University of Colorado – Skagg’s School of Pharmacy Week

From Colorado, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Iowa,  and all over the nation… Here they come!

Natalie Berner (left to right), Jake Grimes, Adrienne kercsak, Jamie Peters, and Matt Schumake pose in the Habitat warehouse for a pic on their last day. The pharmacy students from the U. of Colorado medical campus teamed up with Matt to finish and assemble a set of bunk-beds before they all had to leave. Matt built the beds to create a model for future volunteers to use as a template to build many more. This set was built to fit mattresses that were purchased for the Medicine Crow Habitat family by the First United Methodist Church of St. Loius, Michigan as a house warming gift. A special thanks to Pastor Terri Bentley who led a group from their Michigan parish to Crow Creek to help build the Medicine Crow home in September of 2012. First United’s efforts resulted in $2,200.00 in donations funding, 880 volunteer man-hours, and 6 brand new mattresses for the build. Another shout out of thanks goes to Brother Jake Grimes (second from left)  for traveling so far North from Lafayette, Louisiana to lend a hand. Jake came up to finish the framing tasks, but soon found himself laying sewer line, doing the in-floor plumbing and drain, pouring some concrete, AND a bunch of framing tasks. Jake helped the group frame the raised floor in the volunteer center,  and finish the in-floor plumbing and concrete work as well. Great leader. Thanks so much Jake!



In the Habitat warehouse (left), Matt explains the bed design, and the tasks that need to be finished to put the beds together to Twan Do, Imanibam Etukeren, and Adrienne. Twan (center) helps shave a little off of the frame to ensure a good fit. Ali Burgoon (right) poses with a european style deer mount Matt did for her while she was here from Columbia, Mo. on her alternative spring break service trip. “Hi Ali”! “See ya next year MIZZOU”!



(Above left) Matt shows Emily Sellers, and Jamie Beard from the University of Missouri “MIZZOU ASB” how to do lay-out and framing while working on some drop-soffit pieces for the volunteer center in  the last week of March. (Center) Adrienne and Jamie from Colorado enjoy working in the warehouse on the bed project. Everyone can  appreciate a good screw gun when you are rushing to complete a project! (Above right) Adrienne and her crew pose for a pic with Matt after completing the bed assembly. Next step, stain it.

Matt watches as Christina Zhang (above left) sands the boards that will create the bunkbeds. Matt and Jon (far right),  put their fish on James’ Jeep hood for a pic of their fish. “I heard they had some fun”.

“White Bear” (his new given name) came from Chicago in early February until the end of May to lend a hand getting the volunteer center started. A huge commitment. More of a furniture builder than a framing carpenter, Matt dove into any work I had pressing. He sweated copper fittings, framed walls, and even laid 100 feet of 6″ sewer pipe when we found to our dismay, our line had to be replaced all the way out to the 8″ main line. He accomplished a lot, and learned a lot too, becoming an excellent worksite leader by the time the groups started arriving. “Matt, how can I ever thank you enough”? A very hard working volunteer, Matt was involved in almost everything that went on around here during his stay. He even spent some time fishing with my sons James and Jon.  After many, many days of work, and some of play…Matt finally says good-bye to hurry off to his sister’s graduation ceremonies in Missouri. So long good friend…miss you like crazy!

If you would like to come to South Dakota and join in all the fun this year, the contact info is below….

Bob Werner at 605-680-0402
P.O. Box 487
Fort Thompson, SD 57339

Tigers Take on Crow Creek

This week we had a group of 12 volunteers come into Fort Thompson from the University of Missouri, a part of the Alternative Spring Break program. The Tigers have come to Crow Creek to spend their spring break learning about the Native American culture and to work with Habitat for Humanity.On Monday, the group helped continue the work being done on the new Volunteer Center in the basement of the Golden Age Center. The next thing on the list was to build some interior walls and also the group started the electrical wiring for rooms. By the end of the day on Monday, the group finished an interior wall and had built the frame for the soffit. The group’s goal is to help hang drywall by the end of the week.We commend this group for making the decision to to spend their spring break doing work that will benefit the Crow Creek Reservation!
A broken nail gun didn’t stop the tigers! A volunteer signing his name on a wall stud A volunteer shining light into the joists to rewire a light
A volunteer signing a wall stud A volunteer shining light into the joists


Read about the University of Missouri’s Alternative Spring Break Program here.

The University of Missouri
The MU Volunteer Group at Crazy Horse

Construction on the Volunteer Center is Underway!

Snow on Crow CreekIt’s winter here in Buffalo County. Snow is falling over the hills, ice fishermen are pulling walleye out of the Missouri River, and the volunteers at Dacotah Tipis are working hard to get the new Volunteer Center ready for spring.

The crew broke ground—or drywall to be specific—on February 6. Since then, they have been stripping out the old fixtures to prepare for building. Once completed, the volunteer center will feature a kitchen, dining area, warm showers, bunks for 48 volunteers, and a private room for our volunteer coordinator. In addition, the center will feature a memorial wall with donors’ names displayed on a plaque and a little extra space for volunteers to sign their own names.

In the words of our executive director, the center is a place “for our volunteers, by our volunteers,” and we are excited to get them in there. So far we have gotten a good amount of work done but there is still plenty to do. In the coming weeks we will be plumbing, framing, painting, installing drywall, building bunk beds, and putting in new cabinets. If you have any experience in these fields or if you would like to sharpen your skills, please review our volunteer page and get in touch with us!

Volunteer Center

The Missouri River

The above photos were taken by Matt Schumake, a Dacotah Tipis Volunteer currently working on the Volunteer Center. He is also the author of this blog post. Thank you Matt!



The Crow Creek Volunteer Center

Crow Creek Volunteer Center

Dacotah Tipis.Org, a Habitat for Humanity affiliate on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in central South Dakota is sponsoring and building a community volunteer center to house and support the many volunteers who travel to Crow Creek to help alleviate the critical housing shortage in our community. Our volunteers spend quite a bit of hard-earned money to get here. Once they get here, they have to spend even more to stay in hotels and campgrounds for the duration of their stay. Many volunteers who wish to come here to help (especially the young adults and retired folks) are not able to stay as long as they would like, or even make their mission trips here due to the current economic hardships.

The New Dacotah Tipis Volunteer CenterWell, now we have a solution! For $30,000.00, we can finish a 50 bed volunteer center in Crow Creek by renovating the lower level of an existing/operating building. The center will provide groups and individuals a place to bunk, cook their meals, shower, and relax after a long day of working on our Habitat for Humanity projects and other humanitarian projects here in the community. The center will be built “by volunteers for volunteers” which is how we will complete it so affordably. The project will also give our selected partner families another opportunity to do some “sweat equity” above and beyond the 400 hours they are required put in on their own homes.

$50.00 or more donors’ names will be embossed on a plaque that will hang in the main commons area of the facility to express our gratitude and to inspire volunteers for years to come. All donations of $1000.00 or more will receive a hand-made Native American Morning Star quilt for their generosity. Any amount, large or small is appreciated!

To Donate click on the button below…

Or, donate by mail at:

Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity
Sister Charles Palm
Board Treasurer
Box 487
Fort Thompson
South Dakota 57339

Thank you!

To Volunteer contact…
Jim Huntley

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

Thank you!


Sister Charles Nominated for Outstanding Local Hero

The National Resource Center on Native American Aging is again seeking nominations for individuals in your community who you feel have impacted the lives of your elders. “Sister Charles Palm” has been nominated. She has served the elders of the Crow Creek Tribe for nearly 25 years with tireless commitment against an immense work load of feeding our needy elders.

She has founded the Golden Age elderly nutrition program, Crow Creek Food Bank, and the Dacotah Tipis-Habitat for Humanity affiliate at Fort Thompson, and serves as the treasurer for all to ensure adequate funding and proper use of those funds.

Currently she also serves as the Pastoral Minister for St. Joseph’s Parish here in Fort Thompson, SD. which puts the workload of running two Catholic parishes here on the reservation on her shoulders, including St. Catherine’s parish in Big Bend, SD.

She is the hardest working individual on this reservation, and has been for a long, long time.

More about Sister Charles:

Sister Charles was born and raised on a farm in Richardton, North Dakota. In 1952 during her high school years, Sister Charles was “called” by the Lord to enter the Convent at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota to become a Roman Catholic Nun. While serving her vocational calling, she quickly fulfilled the requirements of Mount Marty High School in Yankton, receiving her diploma in 1953.
In 1955 Sister Charles began teaching in both North Dakota and South Dakota, serving diligently where needed. During her teaching career she pursued her higher education with Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD. There she majored in education and minored in music, earning her B.A. in Education in 1967. Sister Charles continued her teaching ministry until 1974, at which time she began her vocational career in Pastoral Ministry. She served as Pastoral Minister for Saint Catherine Parish in Sisseton, South Dakota improving the lives of the members of the Sisseton/Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, while continuing her graduate studies of ministry with Mount Marty College. Sister Charles received her Masters of the Arts in Ministry in 2001. In 1991, Sister Charles and a handful of other Christian community members engaged each other in an attempt to help alleviate the terrible housing crisis on Crow Creek by creating HFH Dacotah Tipis, a Habitat for Humanity affiliate that would serve within the boundaries of the Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation. Their wondrous efforts resulted in the affiliate being founded in 1992. As a founding board member, and serving the affiliate in many ways, Sister Charles has been directly involved with the Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity program for 19 years. Sister Charles currently serves as Pastoral Minister at Saint Joseph Parish in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and serves diligently as Board Treasurer for both Habitat for Humanity Dacotah Tipis, and the Golden Age Elderly Center which provides a sit-down and delivered healthy meals program for tribal elders of the Fort Thompson, Crow Creek, and West Bend communities.

Re-Member comes to Fort Thompson

Remember group
 Reverend Keith Titus, Founder and Ambassador at Large of brought a large volunteer group from his First Congregational United Church of Christ in Charlevoix, and Atlanta, Michigan to support the work Dacotah Tipis HFH does on the Crow Creek Reservation in October. His group was instrumental in moving the home towards completion for our holiday deadline. RE-MEMBER is a non-profit organization which works with the Oglala Lakota Nation on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Volunteers comprised of individuals and groups (adult and youth) from churches, high schools, colleges, and corporations join them at their facility on Pine Ridge for one week at a time. “Our volunteers participate in various work projects across the Reservation, helping to rebuild relationships, homes, and lives” says Keith. Seated front and center, Keith and his wife Reverend Virginia Titus pose for a group photo after one of Keith’s readings of “Words of Wisdom” his daily readings in which Keith shares from his collection of some of the most profound and inspiring words of Native American and international people.

Group picture above (from left to right) are: Hank Henderson (Dacotah Tipis board member and public relations committee chair), Brian Henderson (Dacotah Tipis public relations committee member and videographer), both of whom travelled to south Dakota from their homes in Massechusetts to document and help with the build; Tom Young, Pastor Neil Wilson, Chandler Sheperd, Patricia Miller, Keith Titus, Jim Huntley, Norma Johnson, Vance Wood, Virginia Titus, Sally Whitley, Cath Kelder, Chauncey Long Crow, Sandy Edel, and Rudi Edel.

A wholehearted effort from a fantastic leader, Keith Titus explains why he has brought his support to Crow Creek, going above and beyond his own mission in Pine Ridge.  Neil and Vance were humble here in their interviews, but they were absolutely go-getters when on the project. Their crew made the closet shelving and baseboard installations look easy. Sally assisted Jim with the door setting and adjustment tasks which requires doing a pretty accurate set job. By the time she was done with the doors, she was confident enough to do it by herself.
The women Habitat for Humanity Dacotah Tipis
A Few Good Women take a break from their spackling, caulking, and painting duties to have some fun harrassing the kitchen cabinet installation crew. Jim gives direction to the cabinet crew as they unpack and ready the beautifull cabinets that were donated by Starmark Cabinetry located in Sioux Falls, SD. Chandler and Tom found out that painting all of the interior doors for the home is no easy task, especially after we found the Wagner power painter to be not so user friendly.
Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity
Although the development site is far from complete, the house is very close to having a family call it home for the Holidays. Sally checks in on the door painting crew, and decides they need “a few good women” to help out. This type of teamwork keeps the work fun. The cabinet crew gets the uppers in place and make some door adjustments while waiting for the lowers to be unpacked and readied.
 Hank and Jim at the Habitat for Humanity site Brian at the Habitat for Humanity Site Habitat for Humanity
Hank and I outside our warehouse. He does so much work for me from afar, but it was really great to have him back on Crow Creek again! Hank’s son Brian takes a break from the video gear to get the laundry room cabinet ready to hang. Seems the construction work is contagious. Tom and Chandler take a breather after painting door after door. They worked long and hard, not quiting until they were all done.

I would like to thank Keith and Ginny for a fantastic week here on Crow Creek. Re-Member’s  group provided significant funding and over 400 hours of volunteer labor to the Dacotah Tipis project. I would also like to say thanks for the hours Ginny and her crew provided to the community while staying behind from the construction crew.
To bring your group to Crow Creek,  Contact:

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

Dacotah Tipis honors their Supporter of the Year

Habitat for Humanity Supporter of the Year


Press Release / 11.2012

Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity Recognizes “Mike Kramer”

Mike Kramer (center) was recently honored at Habitat for Humanity – South Dakota’s annual Supporter of the Year banquet in Sioux Falls. Like all Habitat for Humanity affiliates, Dacotah Tipis receives the help and support from numerous individuals, businesses, and groups each year.  Mike Kramer was awarded Dacotah Tipis Supporter of the Year for his dedication and financial contributions to Dacotah Tipis’ Medicine Crow build on the organization’s 2012 20th anniversary.

Mike Kramer of Grand Rapids, Michigan- 2012 Supporter of the Year

Mike Kramer is a life-long member of The Servants of the Word, a Christian, missionary brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He is also the director of Kairos Mission Trips, a project that sponsors short-term mission trips and character-forming environments for high school students. Through these environments, teens learn that life is not about the development of self but about bringing glory to God and serving others.

Mike’s generous partnership with Dacotah Tipis in 2012 provided two major volunteer groups, and $6000.00 of grant funding he leveraged with nearly1000 volunteer hours, and $2,300.00 in volunteer donations, making an incredible impact on the community of Fort Thompson, SD. and on Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity’s 20th Anniversary Medicine Crow Home Build.

The purpose of the annual Habitat celebration is to inform, inspire and invest. The day began with a Habitat-South Dakota Board meeting and a training session for the South Dakota Habitat affiliates and statewide board representatives. The topic this year was “Working to create a state housing trust fund in South Dakota.”

Scott Parsley from Madison, SD. took the group on a photo tour of his Viet Nam Veterans Global Village trip to Viet Nam earlier this year. His group built a Habitat home for a family in 122 degree heat! Scott has been a Habitat volunteer and board member for his local affiliate and currently for Habitat South Dakota. He began volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in the early 1990’s.

To learn more about Habitat’s work in your local community, Contact:

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

First United Methodist – St. Louis, Michigan!

Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group
The First United Methodist Church of St. Louis, Michigan partnered with Dacotah Tipis in September to help the Medicine Crow family work towards the completion of their home. Pictured from top left to right are: Janice Knapp, Lorna Robar, Austen Cook, Julie Shimunek, Debbie Brune, Rhonda Rennhack, Nancy Hodges, Barbara Hagen, Marcia Royer, Jo Ward, Linda Johnson, Lou Irvin, and Pastor Terri Bentley. On the porch steps are Conrad Medicine Crow holding son Jacob, Codi Holding son Joshua, and son Craig. Bottom row from left to right are:Tom Bentley, Dennis Rennhack, Cheryl Sabatovich, Rich Sabatovich, Gary Irvin, John Shimunek, Philip Robar, Ken Hagen, Eric Johnson and Chauncey Long Crow.
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group
Pastor Terry prepares to lead the group in a morning prayer, Filled with blessings for the family and their home, and prayers for peace and unity while we are about His work. Jim shows Marcia and Cheryl how to carefully and effectively sand the corners out. The gals did a fantastic job getting walls and ceilings ready for texturing! Tom (far right) and Philip (center) step up to help Ken and the trim crew get the picture-window jamb box together.
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group
Janis Knapp keeps an eye on the trim crew (Ken and John) as they invade a  freshly painted kitchen! Codi is busy cutting in her corners in the background. Tom and Debbie work on the underlayment flooring, while Gary checks on the air pressure for the stapler and nail guns. After painting the front door jamb, Austen admires how fast Dennis and that 18″ roller can paint an area that big. “Thanks Dennis for all that hard work”! Jim
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group
Tom sets up multiple BBQ’s to handle the pork chops for one of their group meals at Diamond Willow Ministries campus. What a difference a group can make in a week’s time. Each blog post shows the progress towards completions. Stay tuned! Group cooks Nancy and Rhonda came over to see the progress on the house  during their break for “Indian Taco Day” lunch.
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Group
Conrad wields an 18″ roller full of semi-gloss painting his kitchen with Codi and Janice. Conrad, Codi, and family The Spirit of the Circle Monument honors more than 1,300 people who died after the forcible relocation of the Santee Sioux to Crow Creek

Our volunteers – our most important asset.


Meet Bob Vickars, Ron Hopkins, and Chuck Tillinghast. Although these three gentlemen are from different parts of the country and different walks of life, they all have the same reasons for being involved with the Dacotah Tipis Habitat project here at Crow Creek… To give back to the Creator and society. Bob and his wife Pam roared up here in their motorcoach for a week or so of service from South Carolina. Ron owns Hopkins Plumbing & Heating in Chamberlain, SD and was happy to roll up to Fort Thompson to consult us on the rough-in @ no charge, and to provide us with the plumbing supplies for the home. Chuck drove out from Boston after becoming a lay-off victim of the economy to spend a couple weeks helping me finish painting the home and hang sheet rock. These folks didn’t HAVE to come, they didn’t get compensated for anything, and they probably spent a wad to get here and get home, but when I ask them if it was worth it, they all say the same thing… “I’m so happy I came, I had a wonderful experience here. I really enjoyed myself working on the home. It was well worth it!” 

Pam McClure, Bob’s wife, played a support role of cold drinks, food, and safety supervision when she wasn’t working and painting on the house. Bob and Pam fit the catagory of caravanners, driving their motorcoach here, camping along our wonderful Lake Sharpe, and working on the Habitat project during their stay.Pam had Bob bring the coach to the project everyday so she had all the comforts of home while on site. After what Bob himself had charectorized as a “fantastic time” working with us for a week or two, he has already begun to plan his trip here next year, recruiting a few more caravanners for a week of service together as a team. “I want to buy a whole week next year so we can have the place all to ourselves when I bring the team!” says Bob. A special thanks to Bob and Pam for their generosity and service.
Chuck painted a few houses in the summers to get through college, so he was an old hat at getting the job done. He made it look so easy, and was having so much fun that Bob just had to go outside and paint with him and Pam. Turned out it wasn’t that easy with warm, dry, and breezy conditions trying to dry the paint on the rollers and brushes. Great job Chuck! Thanks!

 If you would like to travel to South Dakota, see all we have to offer and join us on the Habitat Build project, then give me a call, load up the rig and come on out. We can use the help, and you will have… in Bob Vickars’ words… “a fantastic time you will never forget”.

I’m Jim Huntley,  and I would love to take your call for more info @ 605-680-0402. 


Great work from a Great Crew

The Support for Dacotah Tipis Keeps Growing – Thank You!

A very special thanks goes to Mike Kramer (front row on steps) of Kairos Mission Trips- Lansing, Michigan. Mike brought about 35 people to the Crow Creek Reservation June 18th – the 25th for a week of incredible service. He wasn’t alone in guiding the very motivated kids though. I would also like to thank Joe Firn, Jim Bergler and Miguel Vargas for helping Mike and I manage all that manpower! I would also like to point out that Jim Bergler and Miguel Vargas were absolutely fantastic group leaders, keeping things focused and productive with 20 workers in the house every day. Thanks again guys! Jim
 The interaction between our wonderful volunteer groups and the kids of our community is magical. We would like to thank the girls for all the hours spent making a difference with the children. Well done!   The guys worked on the Medicine Crow Habitat home while the girls stayed at Diamond Willow Ministries serving the children and families involved in their programs. They also combined their efforts on a couple other projects. This allowed Kairos Mission Trips to have an large impact across our community during their stay.
No matter what needed to be done on the project, from mowing the development to sheetrocking… this group hit it hard until they finished their tasks. Jim Bergler in one of the rare moments he wasn’t busting his hump. This gentleman led the guys’ crew by shining examples of working hard, working smart, and working safe! Thanks Jim
(Left) Jim Bergler leads the painting crew to the completion of the first coat of “Tumbleweed Tan” on the home in one day. (Right) Miguel Vargas ensures the guys get the rock completely screwed off before starting a second wall. The guys’ crew insulated the rest of the home, put on a coat of paint, and sheetrocked 4 bedrooms in a couple of days. Great work… from a Great Crew!

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

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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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