OLCERI Workshop for Indigenous Trainees Wisdom

OLCERI Indigenious Wisdom Center (IWC)
Framing and Roofing Workshop for Indigenous Trainees


During the course of this workshop, participants will study with master timber framer Tom Healy from Wisdom River Works, as well as Bryan Deans, indigenous instructor, construction supervisor and certified permaculture designer.

Trainees will consist of young tribal members who will work as crew members and learn to:

  • Mill lumber from logs
  • Construct structural columns: Prepare layouts; create reinforcement structures; create the forms; mix, pour, and cure concrete
  • Plan, layout, shape, and perform joinery necessary to construct a traditional timber frame (post and beam) structure within the context of the reinforced earthen foundation


June 2023

  • pre-event site & event preparation
  • training
  • construction / supervised practice with column-making, framing & roofing skills
  • post-event clean-up, debrief, documentation.


OLCERI Ranch, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, BIA 41, near Oglala, SD (Enter coordinates N43.08548 W102.8168 on Google Maps)

These lands are the ancient home of tribes or bands of the Oceti Sakowin: the Oglala, Brule, Sans Arcs, Blackfeet, Minnekonjou, Two Kettle, and Hunkpapa.


  • Understand concept governing concrete footings, posts and beams in supporting overall structure
  • Understand concrete mix and preparation
  • Completion of all required concrete footings for building
  • Sizing, measuring and leveling
  • Power tool operation
  • Bobcat (front-loader) experience
  • Understanding and erecting timber columns and beams
  • Observing the installation of one truss resting on the installed columns and beams
  • Utilize these skills for constructing homes elsewhere on the reservation


  • All columns and beams complete
  • Truss set on timber beams resting on timber columns
  • Roof in place


The IWC is an earthship style training facility which will offer education in OLCERI’s Regenerative Indigenous Systems (RIS). It will be used for developing local capacity and creating local expertise. This building will provide teaching and living facilities for visiting students from both on and off the Pine Ridge reservation.

The Indigenous Wisdom Center will help create a paradigm shift on the reservation via the co-production of knowledge. Using the concept of building local capacity through training that leads to a thriving local economy.

It will provide training in:

  • permaculture design with an emphasis on drylands techniques adapted for the ecology and restoration of the North American High Plains (cold semi-arid climate)
  • natural building
  • regenerative agriculture
  • water harvesting
  • traditional foods
  • traditional medicines
  • Lakota language & culture


The structure is an Earthship-style building with over 50% of the structure consisting of used tires. In partnership with Engineers Without Borders (at Colorado State University), OLCERI has industrialized the building process, reducing costs to approximately $40/sq ft and significantly reducing construction time. This style of construction takes advantage of end-of-life tires obtained at virtually no cost that would have otherwise ended up being incinerated or in a landfill. It will be passively heated and cooled and run with solar power, thus making it much more self-sustaining than conventional structures.

After a COVID-induced hiatus, construction on the OLCERI Indigenous Wisdom Center (IWC) has resumed in the Fall of 2022. As of September 2022, the base of the Center has been completed, containing more than 1,000 earth-rammed tires. The building methods taught here are usable in many areas of the world but are modified to meet the demands of the rugged climate of the North American High Plains.


Why fund us?

  • Our programs are holistic and designed by Lakota for the Lakota people
  • Create resilience by first meeting the primary needs of the people right now, while considering the needs of the following generations.
  • OLCERI’s programs contribute to landscape regeneration and provide vital adaptations for climate change
  • OLCERI seeks to leverage every dollar into scalable solutions that have the potential to transform the poorest community in the U.S. (the Pine Ridge reservation)


CONTINGENCY (10%) $5,171.88

GRAND TOTAL $56,890.64

Donations (18)

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  • Johanne Burgemann
    • $150 
    • 4 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 9 mos
  • James Lange
    • $200 
    • 10 mos
  • Lynn Borstelmann
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
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Bryan Deans
Pine Ridge, SD
The Oglala Lakota Cultural & Economic Revitalization Initiative
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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