We run a collection of programs that together we hope will restore some pride, self-reliance and joy to the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Within each of the programs we run projects that help us reach our goals. Please read about our programs, explore our recent projects and come back soon for more details as we discover more about a better way to live and learn.

Here is a chart illustrating the funds for the Pallet House Project. The section in the pie chart labelled “unaccounted” are the funds paid directly to Texas Natural Builders by two private donors.


Our Projects

Cob/Strawbale Hybrid House

In the fall of 2008 shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Shannon Freed was inspired to org...
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One Nation Walking Together Collaboration

In March of this year Earth Tipi helped youngsters living in our transitional living program to buil...
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Pallet House Project

The Pine Ridge Reservation needs 6,000 sustainable homes. A few have already been built but many mor...
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Communities Take Root Contest Won! 45 fruit tree orchard planted.

White Horse Creek ~ Manderson, SD Before Earth Tipi was an organization, Shannon Freed, deep in the...
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Composting With Worms!

Vermiculturist John Victor Anderson aka “The Colorado Worm Man” came for four days and did multi...
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Lakota Waldorf Kindergarten Presentations

During 2012, Shannon Freed, Earth Tipi Founder and Director conducted weekly presentations at the La...
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Zani Radio Show

In 2012 and 2013 Earth Tipi, in collaboration with KILI Radio aired and recorded approximately 30 ep...
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Light Straw Clay Home/Office Project

Publicity of the summer 2011 Pallet House Project sparked interest in Earth Tipi, at that time we we...
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Fruit Tree Planting Foundation Grant

Five more orchards planted! Shannon Freed, now Earth Tipi’s director had received a lot of intere...
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Pallet Cabin Demonstration

This project is currently sponsored and funded by Mike Gray and William Penn House. During the summe...
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Food Forest: 2013 – Present

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Caretaker Cabin

Earth Tipi is more than just a family project. We are here for the community to inspire creativity, ...
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Rocket Mass Heater: 2013–current

As part of the light straw clay home/office project it was important to us to demonstrate techniques...
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Why we do what we do

Building a home for a family in need on the Pine Ridge Reservation

It has been almost three years since I first noticed the campsite off the side of HWY 18 across from the CAP office in Wakpamni just east of Pine Ridge. It has been about two years since I noticed that they were moving materials to the site and working to build some sort of living structure for themselves. It has been one year since I thought to myself “why isn’t anyone helping this guy” and few months after that “someone should help this guy” ….still a few month after that late in the winter or early spring, I saw that most of the work had been blown over by a severe wind storm. I then thought, “If no one helps this guy soon, I’ll help this guy”. I didn’t know his name or who “they” where but I saw them making a huge effort to make something from nothing out of scraps and re-purposed materials and felt strongly that whoever they were and whatever their story, they deserved some help.

In February I was looking through the list of people who had “Liked” my facebook fan page. I was doing random searches to find out what people were working on that they were interested in what I was doing. I found David Reed of Texas Natural Builders in that list and discovered his natural building project in Texas. I was particularly intrigued by a pallet structure he was working on. My initial thought was that we have so many shipping pallets here on the reservation we could surely make more use of them than fences and walkways as is popular among many people here. I sent him a friend request and a note through facebook asking if we could chat. I had no thought at all of building a house from pallets. Within a few minutes of chatting with David, I invited him to come here to build a house for this family who had been working so hard for the past two years to build something for themselves. He almost immediately said yes. We both got very excited making plans and coming up with ideas. My intent was for a paid apprenticeship. This was a strategy that had worked successfully for me the year before when we built this cob and straw bale home, David agreed. We would offer an apprenticeship, a class, where people from off the reservation could come learn the process of building a house from pallets from start to finish.

Now that we had the idea set, I had to find out who this family was. Their names would be a good start. But I didn’t know anyone who knew them. I stopped by but with mud up to my knees and a 2 year old on my hip, I wasn’t able to get to the front door of their camping trailer. 3 weeks later when I hadn’t reached them, we almost reformatted the project to be a simple shed at Earth Tipi’s primary site in Manderson. The night before the final decision was made I received a call from Calvin of Wounded Knee Tiyospaye Project. He asked if Earth Tipi was planning another house building project for this year as we had done last year. I told him that I wasn’t sure. He then started telling me about a friend of his who had been homeless for almost 10 years. That this friend had been living in a camping trailer and had been working to build himself a home for the past 2 years. I interrupted, “is this the guy that lives across from the Wakpamni CAP office on HWY 18?” He said “yes” and that’s when I learned Walter’s name and his story with Alison. Calvin gave me their phone number and the next day we met in Pine Ridge and the pallet house project was officially a go.