This has been an amazing week! Not only did 375 HUD Sustainable Communities grantees, federal partners and technical assistance organizations get together in Washington to share strategies and best practices, President Obama recognized the Thunder Valley CDC, a 2010 grantee, at the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference on Wednesday.
“I’m hopeful because of young folks like Nick Tilsen,” said Obama at the closing session of the Tribal Conference. “I just had a chance to talk to Nick, a Lakota Indian who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which is one of the poorest parts of America. And unemployment there is rampant; high rates of disease and violence are often forcing folks to downsize their dreams. But there’s a more promising statistic in Pine Ridge. More than half of Pine Ridge’s population is under 30 years old. And many of those young people, like Nick, are giving all they have to help turn things around.”
“So Nick heads up a non-profit in Pine Ridge,” the President continued. “A few years ago, with the support of some grants and other members of his tribe, Nick built a community center that uses spiritual and cultural teachings to help young people stay off drugs and their parents live healthier lifestyles. And it’s making a difference. So today, he’s building something bigger — a clean-energy community that will provide affordable housing for folks who need it and help more Lakota small businesses get off the ground.” (Click photo here to see the President recognize Nick Tilsen and here for the speech transcript.)
In Nick’s own words: “Today was exciting, with the Secretaries of USDA, EPA, HUD, DOT, EPA, DOL, DOI and others sharing their commitments to helping Indian Country and the President of the United States giving a shout out to Oglala Lakota people, Thunder Valley, and a certain “long-range plan” (Oyate Omniciye) in front of a packed house at the Department of Interior.”
We are so proud of all of our grantees doing incredibly things in their communities; and we could not be prouder of Nick Tilsen, Executive Director of the Thunder Valley CDC, his staff and community members for their tireless effort to increase the well-being and prosperity of the Pine Ridge Reservation!
Shelley Poticha is the Director of HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities