Archive for December, 2011

We proudly honor the President of our Board: Patty Keoke

Patty Keoke was born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, the oldest of eleven children. Growing up, Patty and her family of four brothers and six sisters lived in a two room house for many years, due to a severe shortage of housing on the reservation. These memories, and an education provided only to those who grow up under these conditions, had planted the seeds of her Habitat involvement early on in her life.  Patty graduated from the eighth grade in Chamberlain, South Dakota, and she has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Patty became the Social Services Director here on the Crow Creek Reservation, serving for 15 years in a career that put her finger on the pulse of her community, and again reinforced critical needs on the reservations, especially decent housing.

Patty is married to Bill Keoke, and has three daughters, all whom actively participate in Dacotah Tipis Habitat activities on the Crow Creek Reservation. She retired in 2003 because of her battle with cancer (which has since been in remission), allowing her to continue working with and serving the organization. Recently, Patty has celebrated her 70th Birthday with her large family, hosting a silent auction at their celebration to benefit Dacotah Tipis.

Ask Patty Keoke of chamberlain why she’s been a part of Dacotah Tipis for nearly eighteen years and she’ll tell you she believes that “one of the most important things in life is to have a decent affordable home to live in”. This is why she continues to be an important part of the ecumenical Christian non-profit organization. As a result of that dedication and steadfast determination, Patty was nominated as the affiliate’s “Supporter of the Year” in 2005 and was honored by the affiliate at the Habitat South Dakota Annual Fall  Recognition Banquet. Patty was presented with a plaque at the event to show our appreciation for her commitment. Serving as the President of the Board, as the Chair-person of the family support committee, and a member of the family selection committee, she demonstrates what it means to get the job done. She’s a regular at the Board meetings, and has donated resources including her time, talents and money to support the efforts of Dacotah Tipis.

Patty has served on the Board of Directors for Dacotah Tipis on and off for over fifteen years of it’s twenty year history,  She remains   a committed servant to the community, and hopes to serve for many more years. She and her husband are both Native and are well aware of the housing crisis on the reservations, and having lived for years in Fort Thompson, she is very motivated to do what she can to support the Habitat program there.  As is the duty of all Board members, Patti always speaks highly of Dacotah Tipis to others and as a result has enlisted several people from the community to become board members, committee members, and donors. In her spare time, Patty enjoys spending time with her family, and contributing to her favorite charities, most importantly to Dacotah Tipis.

We proudly present Teresa Estes, Our Board’s Vice President

Teresa Estes was born and raised on the Lower Brule Sioux Indian Reservation. She is an enrolled member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe – Kul Wicasa Oyate. Teresa received her college education in accounting at Nettleton College in Sioux Falls, SD.

Teresa has twenty-three years of government service with the Department of Real Property Management. She has had the pleasure of working in Fairbanks, Alaska and Lower Brule, SD in this capacity. Teresa has many details of where she has lived in her life over the years to include the towns of Winnebago, NE, Rosebud, SD, Crow Creek, SD and New Town, ND. She always enjoys the opportunity to volunteer her professional services to other agencies and organizations, and embraces opportunities to share her knowledge and skills in the field of Real Property Management.

Teresa is a dedicated volunteer and is currently serving as the Board Vice-President on the Habitat for Humanity Dacotah Tipis Board of Directors in Fort Thompson, SD. Working with the Executive Director, Teresa has been an asset in the work required to develop the current Habitat project. She is also, a previous board member for Boys & Girls Club organization of Lower Brule, SD.

Teresa has three sons that she is very proud of. The eldest son, Benjamin Cory Estes is a Paramedic for Chamberlain Ambulance Service. Her second son Nicholas Walker Estes is employed with the Board of Regents of the State of South Dakota, and is currently working in Rapid City, SD. Her youngest son David Charles Estes is in his second year of college at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD studying Criminal Justice with a minor in Lakota Studies.

In her spare time, Teresa enjoys quilting and sewing.  As a result of this hobby, she has established her own successful quilting and embroidery shop “Maka Suta Creations” in Lower Brule, SD.

Dacotah Tipis Honors “Red” Olson

Red OlsonArmond (Red) Olson was born and raised on the Crow Creek Reservation and is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. Red received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and the Earth Sciences from Black Hills State University in 1980. After receiving his degree, Red took a position with Black Hills State University for 10 years as an instructor and counselor, and later in administration. Currently, he is Deputy Superintendent of Trust Services for the Realty Department at Bureau of Indian Affairs, Lower Brule Agency in Lower Brule, SD. He has been with the Federal government for 26 years, and plans to retire in December, 2012. Prior to the Realty Department, Red was with the Bureau of Education for twelve years. He is a retired military veteran with twenty-six years of service, proudly serving in the U.S. Army with the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions from 1966 to 1968. After his obligation in the active duty service, Red joined the Army National Guard and retired from US Army Reserve School in 1995 as an Instructor. He has been happily married to his wife JoAnn for 42 years, and has three children and 11 grandchildren.

Red is very active in the Crow Creek community, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Dacotah Tips Habitat for Humanity as a Director. He has been involved with Dacotah Tipis since 2004. Red became interested in volunteering with the local organization when he was asked to be involved by Willie Wood, a past President and a very active member. Becoming a very active member himself, he was selected as the “Supporter of the Year” for Dacotah Tipis in 2007, and was honored at the annual fall banquet for his service. Red has been Chair of the construction committee, and was a key individual in the completion of some of the Habitat families’ homes. Red has kept a continuous 26 year American Legion membership, and has participated in the Senior Olympics until 2007. He is a true classic car enthusiast and a member of the Lakers Car Club, in Oacoma, SD. As a hobby, Red likes to rebuild classic cars, tractors and engines.

Red was also past president of the Ecumenical Association, a local organization that had in its ranks the three original founders of the Habitat for Humanity affiliate on Crow Creek. He is Senior Warden for the Christ Episcopal Church in Fort Thompson with aspirations of becoming a deacon to further serve his church and faith. “Church involvement has always been a very important part of my life” says Red. “I felt a calling after I survived a fourteen foot fall from the roof of our Church, so I made a commitment to myself and the Lord in December of 2003 to serve Him and my community”.

Reasons for Giving Back

Working with Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity

In regards to volunteering with Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity, the following article  is excellent. It adds credibility and articulation to what we’ve been saying all along…

7  Good Reasons to Give Back

Improve Your Health and the World Around You

F rom:
By: Leanne Beattie, Health & Fitness Writer

Still other studies have shown a relationship between volunteering and increased self-esteem, with volunteers reporting both greater personal empowerment and better health. Doing for others may stimulate the release of endorphins, which has been linked to improved nervous and immune system functions, too.

Many people report a “high” from volunteering, similar to the good feelings that come from exercise. Others have found that volunteering can help fight depression. Helping others can help take your mind off your own problems and enable you to see the bigger picture. Once you see the difference you can make in another person’s life, your own problems can seem smaller and more manageable.

As more research is showing that people with fewer social contacts have shorter life spans than people with wide social circles, regardless of race, income level or other lifestyle factors. If you are lonely or live in an area far away from friends and family, volunteering is one way to build a social life and improve your emotional and physical health at the same time.

Here are 7 More Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Develop new skills. Gaining skills, knowledge and expertise are common side effects of volunteering. Giving others your time brings you interesting and challenging opportunities that might not come along otherwise. This experience can be added to your resume and could result in a better paying job in the future.

2. Make social connections. Loneliness and boredom are common among retirees, students, and transplants to a new city. Volunteering can relieve this sense of social isolation and help you fill empty hours in the day.

3. Give back to the community. Doing something for a community is a strong motivators. Everyone, rich or poor, takes from society, and volunteering is one way to show a sense of appreciation.

4. Develop and grow as a person. Volunteering is an excellent way to explore your likes and dislikes. If you’re interested in a new career, volunteer in the field first to see if you will actually like it. You may find a totally unrelated field is a much better fit for you, one you’d never consider if you hadn’t volunteered there first.

5. Gain a new perspective. Life can be hard and when you’re feeling down, your problems can seem insurmountable. Volunteering can offer a new perspective—seeing people who are worse off than you are, yet still hanging in there, can help you see your life in a whole new light.

6. Know that you’re needed. Feeling needed and appreciated are important, and you may not get that appreciation from your paid work or home life where the things you do are expected or taken for granted. When you volunteer, you realize just how much you are truly needed. Meeting people who need your help is a strong incentive to continue—people are depending on you. If you don’t do it, who will?

7. Boost your self-esteem. Many volunteers experience a sense of increased self-esteem and greater self-worth. Helping others makes you feel good about yourself, because you’re doing something for someone that they couldn’t do for themselves.

Research has shown that the good feelings you experience when helping others may be just as important to your health as exercise and a healthy diet. But it’s the smile from a child or thankful person that shows you’re really making a difference in someone’s life. And that’s the greatest feeling in the world.

See Mount Rushmore …and more!

Mount Rushmore
When you become involved with a Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity build in South Dakota, we always suggest taking some extra time to see the area attractions. Mount Rushmore draws the most attention as it is a “Bucket List” national monument, but that’s only one of many great things to see. Our suggestion is to fly into Rapid City then go from there. It is an easy drive from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore – and the ride is absolutely scenic.

Crazy Horse MemorialThe Crazy Horse Memorial isn’t far from the Mount Rushmore Memorial and well worth seeing. It’s educational and interesting. There is a short movie to watch in the visitor center, but it is a must-see. The Crazy Horse story provides a true understanding of the Black Hills history. It may also be worth your time to travel through the Black Hills – especially along Needles Highway, a truly beautiful and majestic route through the granite spires.

Cathedral Spires along Needles Highway




Speaking of granite spires and the Needles Highway, The Cathedral Spires are the most scenic and can be viewed from many angles.




Buffalo at Custer State Park


You have to see Custer State Park. Once again the scenery is great. You’ll see buffalo along the road and a few “begging burros”. Then if you look along the ridges, you might spot some bighorn sheep. So take your time and enjoy.



Wall Drug

Wall Drug is sort of a tourist trap but it provides a well needed rest after traveling from the Black Hills area. There are billboard signs giving the distance to Wall Drug as far away as Australia, and the stop has some international notoriety. Okay, it’s touristy, but in a fun way. I enjoyed it and found some good books on Native American history. And if you haven’t tried a Bison Burger yet, you can have one here with a five cent cup of coffee.

badlands national park



The Badlands National Park is very close to Wall Drug and there is a lot to see. A short detour off the interstate puts you on a highway that loops thru some of the most beautiful and rugged lands in our nation. Make sure your camera has a good charge on it because there is a lot of scenery. Most likely you’ll be seeing pronghorn antelope, buffalo, and probably close up. You’ll see prairie dogs for sure.

Akta Lakota Museum



The Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain is next. By the time you get to there you will be in need of a rest from driving. This is a good place to stop and see the excellent exhibits of Native American culture and arts. The museum is free but they do provide an opportunity to make a donation.

Crow Creek Sioux Indian ReservationAfter leaving the Akta Lakota Museum, the next stop is the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, home of the Dakota Sioux. There’s a lot to do and see on the reservation including great views of the Missouri River which offers some of the country’s best walleye fishing. As you visit the Lode Star Casino and the other establishments, you’ll find the people friendly and talkative.

Building with Habitat for Humanity



Now for the most rewarding event: The Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity Build. This is where you can make a difference in peoples lives and you can see the results unfold. Clearly, you will know why you’re there. For many, this is a life changing experience and after a first visit, many return year after year.



Hopefully this makes a good case for you to get involved. I’ll close with the following:

  • It’s fun
  • It’s interesting and educational
  • It’s rewarding and you will never forget the experience.

To get involved, contact:
Jim Huntley
Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
605-245-2450 Office/Fax
605-680-0402 Cel

Merry Christmas from Dacotah Tipis

Christmas is almost here and there are some signs of it across the Crow Creek Reservation – not the uptown lights you’ll see elsewhere – but you can tell the season is here. People are carrying Christmas trees, there’s a Christmas party announcement on the bulletin board, and there seems to be more spontaneous conversation. Then add lower temperatures and some random snow fall to the picture and yes – it is Christmas time and it feels pretty good.

We wish to thank all of those who have donated to and volunteered for the Dacotah Tipis affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. We mean it sincerely when we say it could not have been done without you. It has made all the difference in the world! Thank you and God bless you.

Some of the Crow Creek residents are feeling better this season because they now live in a decent home, a home that will keep them warm, dry, and give them enough space to feel comfortable. We look at the completed houses with a sense of pride. With the help of our donors and sponsors, we made it happen. But then as we look closer and see the empty lots waiting for houses, reality hits us. There is still a lot a work to do and families still in need of homes. So guess what? We’ll be busy for quite a while.

In 2012 we will be attacking the housing problem with more energy than ever before, and again we will need your help. Please keep in mind that anything you do or give will be appreciated. For now we are asking for a $10 Christmas donation. It sounds like a small amount of money but it is highly leveraged with volunteer efforts and the partner family’s sweat equity. It does matter. And, if $10 is too much, please send a $5 Christmas gift.

Raise your “Christmas Spirit” by giving a gift to Dacotah Tipis this holiday season! The need for housing on Crow Creek is urgent, and many, many secret Santas are needed.

Please feel free to call us if you would like more information.

Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Jim Huntley
Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
605-245-2450 Office/Fax
605-680-0402 Cel

Winter Weather and the Crow Creek Homes

winter weather on Crow CreekThe weather at Crow Creek is like elsewhere on the Great Plains. It comes in extremes. Summers reach temperatures over one hundred degrees but the long cold winters can be terrifying. Temperatures can drop to thirty degrees below zero with a wind chill that never stops. The geography of the northern plains also offers little to block the winds.

This winter we can expect many days of sustained cold temperatures well below zero before the wind chill is factored in. Snow drifts will form house-sized hills and horizontal rain will find its way into every crack or crevice. The wind will propel anything loose including roof shingles and open doors. Only a few homes here are capable of enduring the weather and survive the leaky roofs and the cold drafts.

Most homes will survive the storms with unfrozen pipes and a working furnace – but many will not. The reservation has too many homes in poor condition in need of replacement. So what’s being done? Nothing. That is nothing other than what Dacotah Tipis is doing. Our Habitat for Humanity affiliate is the only organization, public or private, building homes on Crow Creek. Our homes are built to the IRC standard residential codes with proper insulation, a robust heating system, and an air tight exterior. Our homes are built for the South Dakota winters, and our Executive Director is a licensed South Dakota contractor who knows what that takes. 

In order for us to continue helping our partner families build adequate homes on Crow Creek, we need your help. Right now we need donations in order to buy the materials needed for the upcoming builds. Please consider a gift of any amount you feel comfortable giving – any amount is appreciated.

Remember… we leverage your donations with our wonderful volunteers’ and partner family’s labor to get an incredible Bang for your Buck!

Contact Jim Huntley at:
Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
605-245-2450 Office/Fax
605-680-0402 Cel

Craft Shopping during a Habitat Build

Over and over again the same question comes up. Other than building houses, what is there to do? Our answer generally provides a list of tourist attractions. We mention the hunting and fishing. Then we talk about the Bad Lands and the Black Hills. You get the point – there’s a lot to do.

Well, we were told that we’re leaving out one of the best features and it’s right on the reservation: shopping. Crow Creek is rich with Native American Arts and Crafts such as bead work, paintings, star quilts, and as you can see below, wood crafts. So now you have another reason to get involved with Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity.

With permission from the artist, it is our honor to display some of Koster’s Wood Krafts. His work is of the highest caliber and it is fun to browse through his creations. Walking sticks are his specialty, but there are many other crafts.

Kosters Wood Krafts on the Crow Creek Reservation

Native American Walking Sticks

Walking Sticks from Kosters Wood Krafts Call Gene at 605-245-2408.


Native American Walking Stick

Each knife is made with 440C hard steel and are $50.00 each.
Call Gene at 605-245-2408 to place an order.

Crow Creek wood craft knife

Crow Creek wood craft knife

Crow Creek wood craft knife
Crow Creek knife

Crow Creek knife

Beadwork for SaleCall Mona at 605-730-4431 for pricing (unless marked)and to place an order.

Native American Beadwork Native American Beadwork Native American Beadwork
Native American Beadwork Native American Beadwork Native American Beadwork

Latest creations from Kosters Wood Krafts Call Gene at 605-245-2408 for pricing and to place an order.

Native American Crafts
Native American Crafts
Native American Crafts
Native American Crafts

Sound like fun? Like to join us?
Contact Jim Huntley at:
Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
605-245-2450 Office/Fax
605-680-0402 Cel

The Perfect Christmas Present

The Perfect Christmas PresentThe Perfect Christmas Present? How about booking a trip to South Dakota to work on a Habitat for Humanity build? I’m serious, because for many this would be a very positive and rewarding experience for you as you improve a family’s life. It’s a feel-good experience and one you will never forget. But it doesn’t stop there. Since the Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity affiliate is on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, you can immerse yourself in Native American culture and while there, you can visit any number of South Dakota’s attractions such as Crazy Horse Monument, and Mount Rushmore in the sacred and beautiful Black Hills. Your humanitarian effort and the fullfilment you receive, combined with the attractions in South Dakota would be a totally unique experience never to be forgotten.

 Why we need you:  Crow Creek is in desperate need of housing and Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity is the only organization building homes here. There are too many residents living in overcrowded and substandard conditions. In order to continue our mission and reach our goals,   we must continue to receive support in the form of volunteers and donations.

About Crow Creek:  The Crow Creek Indian Reservation was established by executive order following what was known as the Minnesota Uprising, as a prison camp for the exiled Isanti Dakota and Winnebago people. These were the survivors, mostly women and children, of the largest known public execution in American History, “The Hanging of 38 Dakota Men at Mankato Minnesota.” From 1863 to 1866 approximately 300 died on the way to, and at Fort Thompson, suffering from starvation, sickness, disease, exposure, hardship, and heartache.

At present, the reservation suffers from lagging economic indicators with few signs of development. In 2000, Buffalo County – where the majority of the reservation is located – was named the poorest county in the United States,with just under $5,300 per capita income annually. Astoundingly, the average Native American income in the county is actually lower than that.

However, over the decades Crow Creek has persevered through many hardships, including broken treaties and the loss of land due to the construction of the Big Bend Dam. While the difficulties of the current economic situation are important to understand, they should not be seen as the tribe and reservation’s defining characteristics. Crow Creek is a beautiful place with beautiful people and Dacotah Tipis is excited to partner with the people of Crow Creek and other emerging non-profits    to develop a brighter future for the community.


  • Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center – offers a proud collection of traditional items, art, research material and more. Admission is free; tours are offered, and visitors are welcome year-round.
  • Lode Star Casino – Dining and gaming surrounded by murals by Native artists.
  • Fishing the Missouri River at Crow Creek . The best Walleye Fishing in the country!
  • The Crow Creek Reservation offers exceptional upland game bird and waterfowl hunting,        as well as deer, antelope and varmint hunting, including abundant Prairiedog towns.
  • Dancing and dinning at Kate’s North Shore Pub and Grub.
  • Within driving distance you can tour the South Dakota Hall of Fame, the Badlands of South Dakota, see the Mount Rushmore Memorial, and visit the Crazy Horse Memorial. You can also see the Falls of the Big Sioux River, and shop the Sioux Empire Mall.

Interested? Please join us.
Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
605-245-2450 Office/Fax
605-680-0402 Cel

The Other 1%

Crow Creek Indian Reservation

“The 1 Percent” is all over the headline news. It refers to richest one percent of the country’s population in contrast to all the remaining citizens – the 99%. But for many, particularly those on the South Dakota Indian Reservations, this comparison is upside down. Since it is more common to see the evidence of extreme poverty than the toys of the super rich, there is no basis for comparison. As a result there is a tendency to compare the super poor (the bottom 1 %) to the rest of us.

Unfortunately the bottom 1 percent rarely makes the headlines. Perhaps it’s too hard to believe that in this country children go to bed hungry in a shelter or home the rest of us would deem unacceptable, but it’s true and you can see it on South Dakota’s Crow Creek Reservation.
The people of Crow Creek have been referred to as “The Forgotten Ones”. Few are even aware of such a place and others know about it but don’t know what to do. After all, it is a complicated situation.

At Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity we believe we can make a difference in one aspect: housing. If we can put families into safe affordable homes, we can make a difference. A big difference that perhaps may even lift some of the next generation of  families out of the 1 percent.

If you would like to work with a program that it not a hand out, but a leg up that also inspires others in the community as well… please contact us:
Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339
605-245-2450 Office/Fax
605-680-0402 Cel

Learn about the Dacota 38

Click here for Full Dacota 38 movie

If you plan to volunteer, please become familiar with the best practices for safety and loss prevention.

Volunteer Safety Training

Christ Episcopal Church on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation
Faith Based Partnerships

Click the image below to see the Google Map. Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity
See us on:
Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity

Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity
To apply for Home Ownership...

Sister Charles at Box 487, Fort Thompson, SD 57339


Dacotah Tipis – Habitat for Humanity

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