Skip Navigation

Please note: this site is no longer maintained and is presented for archival purposes only.

Sustainable Spring Break Journal

From March 13-27, a small group of Carleton students will experience firsthand some of the problems facing the White Earth and Pine Ridge Indian reservations in Minnesota and South Dakota. After visiting local groups in Northfield and Minneapolis, they will travel to the reservations to learn about reclaming native land and rebuilding healthy Great Plains economies. In South Dakota they will also stay on the buffalo ranch of author Dan O'Brien to learn about prairie restoration and make day trips to significant places like Ted Turner's buffalo ranch, Bear Butte, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore and Custer Park. The group will volunteer for their hosts and build links between communities struggling to keep their traditions alive as they shape them to function sustainably in the future. Along the way, they'll share their experiences and observations here. The trip was organized by The Wellstone House of Organization and Activism (WHOA).

  • March 27: Day 15

    March 27, 2005

    We woke early on this Easter Sunday. Dave, Emily, Dana and Chris joined Kay in going to Mass at St. Michael’s church. People were warm and welcoming, and much cheer was cast by all singing the numerous church hymns. The congregation was led by Rev. Paul A. Schumacher, a very spirited, older gentlemen. He kept the service lively by encouraging audience participation. Through all of his years of service, he had not lost a bit of his energy. We also met some more of Kay’s brothers and sisters – she has eight other siblings.

  • March 26: Day 14

    March 26, 2005

    On our way from Ted Turner’s Bad River Ranch, we took a side tour on to a gravel road to meet 143 wind turbines out in the fields. We had reached Lake Benton, Minnesota. We hadn’t planned the stop, but we most certainly had to stop and admire the wind and the commitment to wind energy. Each wind turbine stood approximately 25 to 30 Emilys and generated a total of 107 megawatts of energy. The spinning blades on the turbines were easy to personify. Emily leaned back in her seat and munched while watching out the window, “I feel like I’m eating popcorn and watching a good movie…except it’s trailmix and wind turbines!” After a short picnic, we packed up and got back on the main road.

  • March 25: Day 13

    March 25, 2005

    We woke really early and drove to the Badlands to walk around. We came back and went to the infamous Wall Drug. We then drove over highways and muddy back roads to Ted Turner’s Bad River Ranch. Ted’s ranch manager Tom Lafaivre showed us around and cooked us dinner.

  • March 24: Day 12

    March 24, 2005

    We slept comfortably in Holy Elk’s wonderful house, which sits right inside of Rapid City, SD. We got a slow start, again beginning the day with pancakes. After a heroic struggle with and subsequent victory over the remote control, we caught the weather forecast, which predicted more snow for the next two days, with temperatures rising to 65 just as we plan to leave town. Hmmm….

  • March 23: Day 11

    March 23, 2005

    After having a long night talking with Nick about his goals for the Lakota Action Network last night (, we started our day early to head to the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, S.D. We stopped in to have a look at the enormous reconstructed mammoth skeleton.

  • March 22: Day 10

    March 22, 2005

    Today we toured Pine Ridge Reservation with Nick and Mark.

  • March 21: Day 9

    March 21, 2005

    We delivered David Johnson’s donation of ground beef to the SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club and toured their beautiful, new building. Afterward, we visited social sciences teacher Peter Hill, a Carleton alum at the Red Cloud Indian School. He shared his perspective on the school and the reservation with us, and then sent us to the school’s Heritage Center to check out some amazing Native artwork. That evening we visited Alex White Plume, the Vice President of the tribal government and a grower of industrial hemp. He shared with us his dream for the future of his family, the reservation, and the Lakota people.

  • March 20: Day 8

    March 20, 2005

    The thick insulated walls of the Tilsen house guarded the heat of the downstairs woodstove last night. We arose and cooked a breakfast of scrambled eggs as the sun shone on the brown short grass prairie hills outside. It was phenomenally warm outside and we all ventured out in the gentle air. I took off on a run down through a gulley and then up over the surrounding hills. Other group members walked out over the expansive rolling hills behind the house where the only signs of human presence are the occasional barbed wire fence and a couple of distant cows.

  • March 19: Day 7

    March 19, 2005

    Today, we had the extreme pleasure of spending the morning with David Johnson on his land outside of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After the politically-charged conversation of the night before, we spent the early morning chatting lightly at the sunny breakfast table with a feast of pancakes, which David, Chris and Dana flipped on the wood stove in the kitchen.

  • March 18: Day 6

    March 18, 2005

    The day started early. We had a few objectives to accomplish before ending our visit with the generous and welcoming members of White Earth. After packing up our things at our host’s house, which had become a second home to us, we headed to Curtis and Darlene Ballard’s organic turkey farm.

  • March 17: Day 5

    March 17, 2005

    Emily and Ryan delivered food all day with Margaret, hearing her stories while the others shelled corn at WELRP. In the evening we had dinner with Joe and Paul, an elder activist and a healer, who shared wisdom and stories for hours.

  • March 16: Day 4

    March 16, 2005

    Emily and Dana delivered food with Margaret in the morning while Dave, Chris and Ryan shucked corn. We went to the sugarbush to split wood and then visited an organic buffalo farmer. After that, we checked out the evaporator test and then went to a delicious dinner where we had a wonderful conversation with Ojibwe Language teachers for three hours.