Four scholarships, 7,000 trees and work for artists in the Oglala Sioux Nation
Lakota People’s Law Project
As the world holds its collective breath and isolates during the outbreak of COVID-19, one business has teamed with two organizations to create three partnerships with the potential to bring support and healing to people and planet.
Nomadics Tipi Makers is working with the Lakota People’s Law Project, a Native American advocacy organization, to provide support to the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation, including four college scholarships for young Native women and a partnership with artists to produce unique tipi covers. In addition, the Lakota People’s Law Project networked Nomadics with Red Cloud Renewables, a Native-run sustainability business, to plant 7,000 trees on a sacred site in the Black Hills.
Nomadics has supported the work of the Lakota People’s Law Project for several years, and the company’s owners, Jeb Barton and Nicole Loffler, say their cooperation has evolved into a personal connection and mutually respectful friendship.
“Lakota Law’s expertise and understanding of the needs at the Pine Ridge Reservation paired with Nomadics’s creative ideas about sustained support has created some wonderful win-win propositions,” Loffler said.
Nomadics’ owners say that making authentically designed, well-crafted tipis is not just a business, but it’s foremost a project in cultural education and sustainability. “It’s an attempt to steward and guide society toward a respect for nature and for the values exhibited by Native cultures,” said Loffler.
Since Nomadics’ support of the Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in 2016, Loffler said she’s focused on creating a company of expanded ethical accountability. Besides switching all production to 100 percent organically grown cotton, she said the company also pledges to plant one new tree for every tipi pole sold.
Daniel Nelson, director of the Lakota People’s Law Project, suggested that Nomadics link their planting commitment with Red Cloud Renewable. Red Cloud Renewable, 100 percent Native American owned and operated, focuses on bringing renewable energy to the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The organization’s operator, Henry Red Cloud, a MIT Solve Laureate for his solar work, is also engaged in tree planting efforts to restore sacred sites, help reduce energy costs and bring fruit-bearing trees close to homes on the reservation. Red Cloud and his team have received $17,500 from Nomadics to facilitate the planting of 7,000 trees.
“For the past three years, we’ve been doing reforestation project at a sacred site in Bear Butte in the Black Hills,” Red Cloud said. “With help from Nomadics, we’re going to put some fruit-bearing trees out there this year — chokecherries, plums, and buffalo berries, along with about 4,000 cottonwood trees.”
According to Red Cloud, combining work with other organizations that care can make a critical difference for both people and planet. “Partnerships are key at this moment,” he said. “There’s no time to reinvent the wheel. Just partner up with people that are already doing it. It’s important for Native communities to reach a point with economic development where we’re stimulating our own economy and lessening our carbon moccasin print.”
Loffler said that the Lakota People’s Law Project is also helping facilitate Nomadics’ commitment to a new scholarship program for young Native American women. To provide sustained support to Native people, Nomadics’ owners have established a $20,000 per-year scholarship fund which distributes $5,000 each to four young Native American women to attend Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Lakota Law also helped Nomadics collaborate with Native American artists to paint tipi covers with authentic, personal artwork. Nomadics will send the covers to Pine Ridge, where the artists will paint them and receive payment from Nomadics.
Nomadics Tipi Makers is proud that its ethical approach to business has led to the approved membership to “Green America” and “1% for the Planet.”
The Lakota People's Law Project operates under the 501(c)(3) Romero Institute, a nonprofit law and policy center.