Overview of the Crow Creek Reservation and the Dacotah Tipis Organization

Location: Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation, Buffalo County South Dakota, Home of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, descendants of the Dakota/Lakota Oyata displaced to the Fort Thompson prison and reservation encampment after the Dakota War of 1862.

Demographics: Located on the beautifully scenic Missouri River in central South Dakota, the Dacotah Tipis HFH affiliate office is within walking distance to the Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson, giving our volunteers extremely convenient access to swimming beaches, picnic areas, primitive and full amenities camping, fishing and exploring.

Well know in walleye fishing circles across the nation, Lake Francis Case (below) and Lake Sharpe (above) provide some of the best fishing in the mid-west and upper plains for walleye, small-mouth bass, northern pike, catfish, paddle-fish and white bass. Our volunteers and visitors fall in love with the Missouri River at first sight, and many seek its cool refreshing comfort after a long day working on the Habitat partner family’s home.



Its remarkably clean water comes to us from the Montana Rocky Mountains snow melt, yet warms nicely into the summer hosting frolicking swimmers well into the evenings. Always a wonderful opportunity to join the local kids at the swimming hole.




After supper and reflection, our North Shore use area immediately upstream from the dam is perfect for outdoor mass celebrations, reflection, daily roundtables and large bonfires with barbeques and S’mores.



Population: Although the Crow Creek Reservation encompasses 125,591 acres, the tribe only consists of approximately 1,230 enrolled members living on reservation, again consisting primarily of exiled descendants of the Minnesota Bands- Mdewakanton (People of Spirit Lake), and Ihanktonwan (People of the End).

During the mass relocation of many Dakota after 1862, over one third of the people died from disease and starvation leaving a decimated population to begin building a new community at Fort Thompson. Many, many never completed the journey.


Pictured here, the Medicine Crow family cut a caution-tape “Ribbon of Hope” for the future of their children as they break ground on their new home in the Habitat development. County wide for Buffalo County – South Dakota, the population was 1,912 as of the 2010 census, with the majority of non-Native residents being white farmers and ranchers.



Basic economy: Typical to the Great Plains, the largest industry here is agriculture. We are in the heart of America’s breadbasket, and corn, wheat, milo, sorghum and soy beans cover any tillable landscape here.
Dacotah Tipis has even turned a shovel to 5 acres of cornfield to create our latest housing development containing six, three-quarter acre lots. Being very rural and remote, most local employment opportunities consist of tribal administration, tribal utilities, tribal schools hotel and casino operations, and Bureau of Indian Affairs admin, realty and road departments. The average median income of resident households in Buffalo County, South Dakota was $12,692, and the median income for a family was $14,167 as of the 2010 census. That’s annual income!

Cultural/ethnic background: Volunteering on Crow Creek is an immersion into the lives of the present and past Great Sioux Nation. It is a privilege to visit and serve here; a community of old ways and new tribulations, and a community with new ways and old tribulations. Immerse yourself into a conversation of raw local history with one of our tribal elders, or challenge your wits and stamina by engaging in the high-energy environment of the Boys and Girls Club of Three Districts during non-construction diversified volunteering efforts.

“Waste Mani” (washte’-mo’ny) means “To walk in a good way”.
Daily, volunteers diversify their efforts of serving our community in many good ways. We don’t just build homes here, we build bridges of hope & reconciliation working with children at the Boys and Girls Club, Elders at the Golden Age Center, and with other local programs and agencies here on the Rez.


Affiliate history: Dacotah Tipis was founded in 1992 by an ecumenical group of ministry from three local churches in Fort Thompson in an effort to help alleviate the critical housing shortage and conditions on the reservation. When the organization received affiliation status with HFHI, Dacotah Tipis became the very first Native American Habitat! It has always been a struggle for the very impoverished and ultra-rural affiliate, but to this day has survived to be the only active and building Native American Habitat affiliate.

Proud to be a supporter of our state SSO and mission, Dacotah Tipis strives to continually participate in statewide training events, networking opportunities, and fundraising galas.
Pictured is a Dacotah Tipis raffle basket of our local Native art and craft on display at HFH SD’s annual event. The collection was put together by our donors, volunteers and board members.
Community housing need: “Situation Critical” Locally on the reservation there is a critical housing shortage forcing multi-generational families to live unbearably cramped living situations. Much of the housing stock that exists is older and in poor condition.

Due to ancient ways of taking care of the village, cases of families housing immediate and extended family members to the tune of 12 persons in 2 bedroom homes are pretty common, with children lacking not only bedrooms, but also the beds to sleep upon. The housing stock on the reservation is mostly government rental housing with some old self-help program homes mixed in on family parcels. The rest consists of trailers and very old homes that lack weatherization and maintenance to withstand the brutal -30 degree F winter temperatures and winds here.

Meeting the need: Oh, there is hope! In 2009 Dacotah Tipis found a new Director to invigorate the program with some badly needed funding sources and a greater and more consistent volunteer base. The creation of our new public relations and marketing campaigns has significantly boosted donations and support, as well as providing a steady stream of fantastic volunteers from all over the nation and Europe. Leveraging these donations and volunteer man hours with local fundraising and volunteer efforts, Dacotah Tipis has been able to close on and dedicate 2 homes to families just in the last few years. This home pictured above is owned by the Medicine Crow family, our 2013 closing and dedication.

Building Globally: As we build locally, Dacotah Tipis Tithes to build globally. A short year after it’s founding in 1992, Dacotah Tips began its support of Habitat Guatemala thru a global tithe initiative program. As the old saying goes; “Wish for others, that, you wish to receive” Since 1993, our commitment to Habitat Guatemala has resulted in 8 families served, with new houses to call home and raise their children in. Our goal remains: 1 home here and 1 home there, per year.

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