2013-09-26 / Headlines

What’s In A Resilient Community? Public Input At The Heart Of ‘Keya Wakpala’ Green Development

Community Visioning Meetings in Rosebud, SD and Mission, SD to spark direction on future decision-making for a new community-oriented development

Mission, SD– September 21, 2013 -- Who can take part in defining the future for a large tract of tribal land just west of Mission, SD? “Those who have passion and ideas for a brighter future,” says Wizipan Little Elk, REDCO Executive Director.

Little Elk is carrying forward REDCO’s mission of economic development for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe on multiple levels with the announcement of public meetings and master planning work related to a new community development in the works, called ‘Keya Wakpala’ (“turtle creek” in the Lakota language) on the Rosebud Reservation of south/central South Dakota. This project has its roots in various efforts to expand the availability of quality housing of different kinds, a variety of business space, access to opportunity in terms of education, jobs and support services, tie-ins to regional transportation systems, activities and entertainment, and much more.

“This is a big task, and we do not plan on doing this in isolation,” shared Little Elk. To achieve something of this magnitude, REDCO is seeking to engage a wide range of people - from tribal officials and programs, to business owners and entrepreneurs, to spiritual and cultural leadership, to youth, families, elders, and others.

Thus, Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) will host two community meetings next week on Monday, September 30, 2013 at the Rosebud Community Center in Rosebud, SD (building across from the powwow grounds) and on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at the Sinte Gleska University Multi-Purpose Center in Mission, SD. Doors will open at 5pm both days, with the meeting set to end by 8pm. Food/drinks as well as limited childcare will be provided.

Those planning on attending should not expect to just come and listen, but also get involved. The format of the meetings will give attendees a solid overview of what the basics of the Keya Wakpala project are about, but quickly move into round table discussions that allow for fair, open dialogue focusing on creating attainable visions for the future of the development. “We want to make this informative, yet fun,” added Little Elk.

The piece of land in question surrounds the current location of the Turtle Creek Crossing Supermarket just west of Mission, SD and north of Highway 18. The efforts of others from over the last decade on this site, formerly known as the Koskan Property, will be taken into consideration, but also new elements of green technologies are now being looked at by REDCO under its new leadership.

“We are very interested in finding game-changing ways to make our Nation stronger and more nimble in times of social, economic and environmental uncertainty,” explained Little Elk. REDCO has researched options and settled on a simple concept best defined as resilient design, and the Keya Wakpala project is taking aim at what that might mean.

REDCO is inspired by what is defined as “resilience” - which is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption of some sort. At various levels — individuals, households, communities, and regions — through resilience, communities can maintain livable conditions in the event of natural disasters, loss of power, or other interruptions in normally available services.

“And for us as Lakota People, this can also mean the interruption of our cultural and spiritual lifeways,” states Little Elk. “We really need to look at that and create solutions in the communities we make for our children and grandchildren.”

Furthermore, resilient design can be seen as the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to vulnerabilities caused by disturbances or interruption, but with a heavy focus on practical, onthe ground solutions to these vulnerabilities.

The pre-development work, including next week’s meetings, as well as the accomplishment of key “catalytic projects” for the Keya Wakpala green development project are expected outcomes that will unfold over the next 5 years. REDCO is aggressively seeking to make this happen. The valuable input of community members will be the spark for the underlying vision and goals of the development, which will enable various programs, services and funders to find the best ways to “link in” with the various projects, operations and funding streams needed to maintain growth and longevity of the master planned community.

Ultimately, the full build-out of the project will take multiple years as is often the case for large-scale developments. It is expected this project is one of many that could be undertaken by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe over time as the population increases and others seek to move back to the area.

In a time of uncertainty and shrinking budgets, REDCO and its circle of partners within the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and beyond are strongly determined to keep moving forward without fear or doubt. “I truly believe we can do this. And by “we” I mean every man, woman and child willing to take courage to come out and tell us what they hope for and what might really work,” said Little Elk. “This is a time of great change, and it will not be easy, but it is worth it. We are human beings trying to make things better than they have been in the past. We may even make mistakes, but we will learn and grow stronger. We will not give up.”

Those who live, work or do business on the Rosebud Reservation are invited to attend. For more information on the Keya Wakpala Community Visioning Meetings starting at 5pm (both days) in Rosebud, SD at the Community Building on Monday, September 30, 2013 and in Mission, SD at Sinte Gleska University on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 please call REDCO’s main office at (605) 856-5090 or drop by REDCO’s offices located at the AERI facility just east of Sinte Gleska University at 101 Research Park Drive, Mission, SD 57555.


REDCO is a chartered corporation owned by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and managed by an independent Board of Directors for the purpose of generating revenue for the Tribe and promoting economic development. Through business management and development, policy development, and community development, REDCO works to create employment, strengthen the local economy, and provide self-sufficiency for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. For more information please call (605) 856-5090.


In 2013, the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) and project partners committed to the predevelopment for a sustainable development on the 600 acres of tribal land comprising the Keya Wakpala Green Development area. The commitment partners will create a master plan for a sequence of projects and multiple phases of construction for a mixed-use development at Keya Wakpala which may include renewable and distributed energy, energy efficiency housing, community supportive facilities, new businesses, and infrastructure projects. After master planning is completed, the project will be accomplished in multiple implementation phases over a longer span of time (15-20 years).


Keya Wakpala is also part of a commitment made to the Clinton Global Initiative at the 2013 CGI America conference held in June 2013. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) addresses economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting, CGI America participants have made more than 200 commitments valued at $13.4 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit

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