Mary Collins

Mary Collins 2.jpg

"Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss." - Black Elk

This campaign began with the recent suicides of 5 young teens on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and 7 additional suicide attempts by other teens in the same community. Having developed deep and meaningful relationships with the Lakota Nation over the last 10 years, I was deeply saddened and then angry about this terrible, irrevocable loss of young lives, their promise and potential. Sending my sympathy is not enough. Being in ACTION about these deaths is what everyone connected to this project feels must happen.

In conversation with our LTHN project partners, what became most clear about the young people of Pine Ridge is their desire and willingness to be part of something meaningful and true to the culture. These children and teens have the heart, the intellect, and the desire to do good things, to realize all their potential as Lakota and as young adults. and to be able to navigate this very chaotic and confusing world. While most relatives and friends provide the spiritual and cultural resources needed to make their children's and grandchildren's lives happy and healthy, many of these same families don't always have the financial resources that are also necessary to support their health and wellbeing. Youth sometimes feel a hopelessness that becomes overwhelming.

For those of us who do have the financial resources, and, who can make a donation will help us to build not only Tiny Houses but will add pride, self-esteem and a measure of safety that comes from being part of something positive and worthwhile while not feeling isolated or alone.

Your donation combined with the sweat equity and building supplies that are waiting to be put to use at our staging area in Manderson, SD this summer (just a few miles from Wounded Knee), will help us launch this important project at a time when it will have the greatest impact for these children and families .

The Lakota Tiny House Nation team is asking you to support our LTHN fund to ensure that we have the financial resource in place so that our team can begin accepting applications and prepare to build our first six Tiny Houses in the summer of 2015.

These houses will be built by a dedicated group of mentor/carpenters, electricians and plumbers - from both on and off the Reservation, with a youth-driven team of builders. The youth will also make the decisions about who will receive the finished houses and how they will be used to better the lives of their friends, families and community. Being empowered to make decisions that impact their lives and communities in positive ways is what this is all about.

Your financial help will enable us to launch this project with the capital necessary to build the first six sound, liveable Tiny Homes that can serve as not only homes, but classrooms, food distribution centers, clinics, animal shelters, craft huts, retail stores, welcome centers, safe houses, and much more.

Youth empowered. Youth managed. Youth sustained.

This effort is designed to provide valuable training, job skills, living skills, community-building skills among peers, ownership and equity, and pride in a group of youth that are eager to begin the project. Our further goal is to create a sustainable business and grow it to meet other home and shelter needs while empowering a youth-driven business on the Reservation - a place where jobs are scarce.

Most importantly, this is a Lakota-driven initiative with the support of allies from around the country. It is not outsiders "fixing an Indian problem". It is a thoughtfully considered cooperative action designed to provide a positive solution to a devasting tragedy. We wish to build community and cultural understanding while protecting our most valuable resource...our children.

Any amount you can give will help us purchase materials for the build which will occur over a two week period in July. We anticipate the cost of each house to be between $9000 - $12,000, with some of the materials provided by the recipients themselves and some donated. We are accepting recyleable building materials as well.

Your kindness, generosity and sharing of this campaign is gratefully and deeply appreciated.

Many thanks and welcome to our Tiny House Nation.

Erin Maile O'Keefe