Native Sun News Today: A new community emerges at Pine Ridge

TEDx Talks on YouTube: Building Resilient Communities: A Moral Responsibility | Nick Tilsen | TEDxRapidCity

Thunder Valley CDC: An emerging vision
By Aly Duncan Neely
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

PORCUPINE –– Nick Tilsen gave an inspiring TEDx talk in Rapid City in June of 2015. In it he describes the inception of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation.

Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota Oyate (Nation) is the Executive Director of the development organization that is dedicated to establishing resilient communities, and also is the founder of the Lakota Action Network working to protect Native American sacred sites. Tilsen has established a means of providing training for community members, so that they may be able to organize effectively and implement more sustainable practices, including those associated with renewable energy.

In his presentation, Tilsen related a story about a 92 year old woman who had lived her entire life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Tilsen stated that she approached him at a meeting and said it was the best meeting she had ever attended, and that in her entire lifetime nobody had ever asked her what kind of job she would like to have or in what kind of house she would like to like to live.

Any student, researcher or instructor in the practices of sustainable development will tell you that not only community engagement, but also community input is paramount to a successful project. It clearly amazed both Tilsen and the woman that this was the first time such an inclusive practice had occurred.

Youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota took part in the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation Fit Day Run on November 13, 2016. Photo by Thunder Valley CDC

As a result of this melding of sustainability training for resilient communities and the practice of community inclusivity, Tilsen was able to structure the organization of the Thunder Valley CDC on the Pine Ridge reservation, located near Sharp’s Corner and conveniently accessible from the towns of Kyle, Manderson and Porcupine.

According to Tilsen, Thunder Valley has a mission towards “empowering Lakota youth and families to improve the health, culture, and environment of our communities through the healing and strengthening of cultural identity."

Incubated over a 15 year span of networking with other young people in his community who had a desire to reconnect to culture and spirituality, the objectives were conceptualized. A consensus was formed to act “not from a place of fear but from a place of hope.”

In this a way they might be able to alleviate unemployment and poverty, and to face other challenges to transformation, to thereby build a more resilient community and sustainable future.

Additional information may be obtained from Thunder Valley CDC, 290 Empowerment Drive, Porcupine, SD 57772, or by visiting online at Nick Tilsen’s TEDx talk can be seen in its entirety online at

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Thunder Valley CDC: An emerging vision

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