Yankton Sioux Tribe Hosts Coalition’s 5th Annual Tour & Convening

On June 6, 2018, over 50 of our members joined with more than 25 members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe for the Coalition’s 5th Annual Homeownership Tour & Convening.  Hosted by the Business and Claims Committee of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, the day opened with a Veterans flag presentation and drum group, and welcome remarks by Tribal Chairman Robert Flying Hawk as well as other members of the Committee.

The convening provided the opportunity to learn about:

  • The Tribe’s plans for homeownership
  • Preview the Coalition’s new video series showing that “Native Homeownership is Possible”
  • Share updates and accomplishments

For many Coalition members, the tour of the Reservation was the highlight of the day.  During the tour, David LeCompte, the BIA Deputy Superintendent, pointed out different sites that had been identified for future homeownership development.  Many of these sites already have existing infrastructure, including water, wastewater, and access to roads.

According to Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds and a Coalition member,

“I was struck by the opportunity for homeownership with all of the land available.”

As part of the day’s agenda, Coalition members also heard directly from homeowners about their experiences and the benefits of homeownership. Tribal Veterans Service Officer Dennis Rucker shared his experience in qualifying for a Native American Direct Loan from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, while Kenny Cook, the Treasurer of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, shared his experience in accessing a 502 Direct Loan through USDA Rural Development.

During reflections at the conclusion of the day, Coalition members recognized the importance of the Tribe’s support.

According to one Coalition member,

“The support we have seen from the Tribe is outstanding.  Thank you to Tribal Council for promoting homeownership.”


Green Living Practices

The day following the Tour & Convening, several homeownership practitioners gathered for a training session, “Healthy Homes, Healthy Communities.” Focusing on eco-friendly living practices, the training was born out of recognition of the importance of incorporating healthy living practices into post-purchase counseling. It also took into account how green practices can reduce utilities and maintenance costs associated with homeownership, which is a top priority for low-income communities. Training participants were immersed in lessons on using traditional plants, incorporating efficiency into daily habits, and utilizing nontoxic products for maintenance.

Ana Catches, Homeownership and Housing Initiative Coordinator at Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, attended the training and said this,

“I was able to learn about traditional plants – how  they are used for different remedies for homes and families and for clean air quality in homes. I learned about behavior on how to be a smart homeowner and consumer when making purchases on building products and cleaning supplies, and when building a new house to avoid products with high volumes of VOC.”

Upon completing the training, attendees all agreed that practicing sustainable and green living to create a healthy home environment was well worth the investment as it reduces long-term expenses for homeowners and their communities.