Thunder Valley on threshold of dramatic transformation

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THUNDER VALLEY, OGLALA LAKOTA COUNTY, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- The year isn't even two weeks old but one thing is already crystal clear: 2019 is shaping up to be a breakout year for Thunder valley, the innovative community under construction at Sharp's Corner on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The Thunder Valley vision of vibrant family and community life on Pine Ridge is coming into focus more and more every day.

Seven homes are completed and three are occupied. (A fourth homeowner is ready to move in but cannot complete the loan process until the federal government partial shutdown ends.) Fourteen additional homes are already under construction. And this spring will see the opening of a community center and a 12-unit apartment building.

"In a year from now you'll see a thriving healthy community that's rooted in those traditional notions of being a good relative that Lakota culture is all about," said Thunder Valley Executive Director Tatewin Means.

And that's before the community green spaces and retail strip open up and Thunder valley blossoms into "a true community in every sense. So you have homeowners, tenants, community space and places to shop and eat," Means said.

Add in Thunder Valley's Lakota language immersion classes, workforce and business development programs and farming initiatives and one can see a comprehensive approach to overcoming adversity on one of the largest Indian Reservations in the country.

"This is our expression of self-determination and sovereignty," said Means. "This is what it means to us and we want everyone to feel a part of that and feel the energy."