The story of REDCO and Keya Wakpala Waicageyapi (Turtle Creek Green Development)
"Who is responsible for the way things are?"
For the Sicangu Lakota Oyate (Burnt Thigh Nation) living on the Rosebud Indian Reservation of South Dakota this is not easily answered. The answer means honoring thousands of years of tradition, while acknowledging more recent unexpected changes. This means moving forward with the realization that, in order to thrive, we must seek a new path to reclaim and define the best parts of who we are.
For a highly resilient people once known to travel great distances in search of buffalo, resources, and trade goods, day to day living has become a matter of struggle and survival. In modern times, with the great buffalo herds gone and aboriginal homelands reduced to reservations, our economy suffers. Yet we have a tremendous history of language, customs, expression, spirituality and life-ways, and with these as the foundation, we continue to define Lakota identity in the modern era.
Since 1999, REDCO has been responsible for community engagement, business creation, development projects, workforce development and jobs creation as the politically neutral, tribally chartered non-profit of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. REDCO's specific purpose is to plan, implement and manage economic development from the grassroots community level to tribal government by promoting economic development and self-sufficiency. Under its charter, REDCO is entitled to the same tax status and immunities under US law as the Tribe, although activities, transactions, obligations, liabilities, and property are distinct and separate from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. REDCO is under the firm leadership of Executive Director Wizipan Little Elk who recently restructured REDCO to grow and profit to support wider reaching community and economic development activities.
In 2012, REDCO was given management control of nearly 590 acres of tribal trust land surrounding the Turtle Creek Crossing Supermarket just west of Mission, SD with the goal of expanding development of tribal assets while also addressing multiple, socio-economic issues faced by the local population including the loss of traditional culture as well as the degradation of the familial tribal structure and language through oppression and poverty.
The site was chosen for its strategic location near the center of tribal population and access to infrastructure while also building off of past development efforts. In 2013, REDCO worked with planning and architecture firm Blue Star Studio to host a series of community engagement meetings and collect surveys to define the larger vision, values and goals.
Keya Wakpala Waicageyapi will be developed and built over the next decade or two.