At $3,000, not including the solar power this housing program could help in a reservation where over 60% of the homes are
infested with black mold. Where an average 17 people live in each home. And many homeless families live in tents or cars,
while other families live in shacks, old trailers, or dilapidated mobile homes.
A natural housing company selected the Pine Ridge Reservation as the place to stage their latest housing workshop. With the
help of workshop participants, volunteers and community members, they erect a house in a week, made completely out of natural
materials and powered by the sun.
But with virtually every material that comprises the house abundant in the area – straw, mud, gravel and rubble –
some see it as a symbol of sustainability and autonomy. It may be made of straw, but against the huffing and puffing of fierce
plains winds this house holds up.
In Porcupine, SD. This Natural building is an earth-friendly building option, using materials that are, by and large, not
industrially processed. Usually a small amount of processing occurs, for instance, the mechanical baling of the straw, but
the mentality is one of conservation.
A goal of the workshop was to build a warm, pleasant, inexpensive house that would last a long time and would have a low impact
on the environment. Further, AMERIND Risk Management Corp, (a not-for-profit American Indian Insurance company) will insure
such a home.
Building the Home
The solar power made this house stand out amid grid-dependant houses in Shannon County. The house was carefully wired to code
with two ceiling lights and two outlets powered entirely by solar energy. The final plaster and the earth floor need to be
finished, along with the soil and plant on the roof this spring. Measuring 11 feet by 16 on the inside and costing about $3,000,
excluding the solar equipment, the house is cool when it is warm outside, and heats up quickly with the wood stove.