UTO Update – Tiny Houses on Standing Rock
Greetings from Sandra Squires, President, United Thank Offering Board
Shortly before Annual Council in Lincoln, I met with the United Thank Offering Board in Bismarck, North Dakota. We chose that meeting site a year ago because we had funded a UTO project on the Standing Rock Reservation to build tiny houses for young men living on the reservation who are going to school or working.
With UTO funds they have been able to build 4 tiny houses of about 350 square feet each complete with plumbing, a sleeping area, 3 with a loft, and a living room area. These houses are mounted on a trailer, you can see that in the photographs, and then will be moved to a site to connect to electricity, water, and a septic tank. They will then be stabilized with cement blocks and poles imbedded at each corner.
Each tiny house will accommodate one person. Applicants have to either be full time students, full time employed or a combination. They are eligible to live in the houses for up to 5 years as long as they maintain their eligibility.
The Tiny Houses, which are being built for about $10,000 each, are housed next to St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball. This church was burned down by an arsonist several years ago and was rebuilt with a UTO grant in 2012. We met inside the church for some teaching on tribal history and about the protests, they call themselves “protectors,” regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline which is being built near the water supply for the reservation and on sacred burial sites.
Fr. John Floberg, who has served on the reservations of North Dakota for 25 years, was our guide throughout our visit. Coming on to the reservation and returning to Bismarck, we passed through a military check-point to get onto the reservation. There is one huge encampment with tents and tipis and a couple of smaller camps. We visited the larger camp, Oceti Sakowin Camp, the same site where Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gave his talk about the similarity of this protest to the protests in Selma, Alabama, calling Standing Rock the new Selma. That video of Bishop Curry speaking at the protest site is here: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/09/25/video-standing-rock-maybe-the-new-selma/
In addition, there is a photographic essay of Bishop Curry at the protest sites here: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/09/26/image-gallery-presiding-bishop-visits-standing-rock-sioux-reservation/
This journey as President of the United Thank Offering Board gives me a view on the great work of the Episcopal Church, in what Bishop Curry calls the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.
Thank you for your contributions to United Thank Offering, and continue to give generously so we can continue the work you see in these photos.
– Sandra Squires, President, UTO Board