The Timber Project was founded in 1990 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to create housing appropriate to the land, people, and need.
Founder Tom Cook (Akwesasne Mohawk) in front of a structure built by the Timber Project on the Pine Ridge Reservation
Tom Cook (Akwesasne Mohawk), a Running Strong Field Coordinator, created the Project to address problems with housing on the Reservation.
Families were suffering because traditional insulation in houses was causing severe black mold problems.
Tom Cooks’s idea for the Timber Project was to develop a grassroots timber framing initiative that could come up with alternative housing solutions for families on the Reservation.
The Timber Project has two main goals:
• building and repairing homes on the Pine Ridge
• assisting with community events on the Reservation.
Since 1990, the Timber Project has collaborated in the construction of eight buildings featuring all natural materials and various building systems.
In 2005, Running Strong wrote a grant to complete a 1,536 sq. foot timber frame building to serve as an office and support volunteers at the Slim Buttes Base Farm and Running Strong provides some general support for the project currently.
Addressing New Challenges on Pine Ridge
With Pine Ridge Reservation in its ninth consecutive year of drought, an observed depletion of surface and groundwater is occurring on the Reservation.
Residents are concerned about recent proposals to expand uranium mining that is taking place in north-west Nebraska. If this expansion occurs, the 4.5 billion gallons of water the industry currently uses will increase by an additional 2.4 billion gallons per year, in addition to contamination issues for water sources on the Reservation.
Tom Cook (center) and tribal elder Joe American Horse (right) represent Pine Ridge residents at a hearing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Tom Cook, along with four other primary petitioners are working to enact grassroots change and make sure that the community’s voice is heard by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on this important environmental issue.
TIMBER PROJECT IN THE NEWS
See KOTA interview Tom Cook about the uranium mining and its issue on the Pine Ridge water supply (October 3, 2008).
Also, read about the NRC proceedings in Indian Country Today (May 9, 2008).