HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Nick Tilsen, director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporatioin
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro paid a visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Tuesday as part of a two-day trip to Indian country. He was joined by retiring U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota).
He first stopped at the Prairie Wind Casino and Resort to meet with Oglala Sioux Tribe officials and then traveled to Sharps Corner to visit Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation.
Thunder Valley Community Development is developing housing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation using energy efficient homes.
During his visit to the reservation, Castro paid a visit to a two-bedroom home where 13 people live in extreme overcrowding conditions.
When asked what he was taking away from his visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, he said:
“The resiliency of the people and the need. I witnessed families that have up ward of 13 people living in a two bedroom. HUD wants to ensure that tribal communities are able to thrive and I look forward to working with the people of Pine Ridge.”
“The purpose of this visit was to listen, learn and be mindful of the challenges and work hard to find the necessary resources to improve life on the reservation,” Castro continued.
Senator Tim Johnson, Nick Tilsen & HUD Secretary Julián Castro
While at Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation in Sharps Corner, near Porcupine, Castro examined a model home developed by the organization.
“Thunder Valley is helping improve the quality of life on Pine Ridge by planning for sustainable building and development,” stated Sen. Johnson. “Unique challenges continue to face Indian Country, and Thunder Valley is making great strides towards creating more sustainable and affordable housing. I’m pleased that Secretary Castro joined me to witness firsthand the innovative work being done here and meet the dedicated people that are working to improve their community.”
“Thunder Valley is an example of the power of partnerships,” Secretary Castro added. “Community leaders have come together to develop a bold vision for the future — one full of new possibilities in housing, transit and the economy. HUD has been proud to join our federal partners in helping make this local vision a reality on the ground. Together, we’re going to make this an era of expanding opportunity here in South Dakota.”
Editor’s Note: Red Dawn Foster and Bianca Spotted Thunder contributed to this story and reported from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.