Lakota community granted new meat processing facility for growth and tradition

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (KEVN) - A grand opening comes after a 13-year vision by One Spirit to meet the hungry needs of a struggling population.

"We started distributing food and we went from there to realizing along with the Lakota people that food was really instrumental to what was happening with the people health-wise," said Jeri Baker, director of One Spirit.

The New Charging Buffalo Facility answers prayers for something that has always been of sacred use in the Lakota community.

"We talked about and we learned about the buffalo and what the buffalo's role was in the history of the people and Bamm said what we needed to do is bring back the buffalo," Baker continued.

The meat processing facility designed to process tribal buffalo herds and game coming strictly from the reservation, offering the Lakota people a more sound nutrition. It houses a hoist, walk-in cooler, and a cutting and package are, a push towards a better economy.

"There were no processing facilities on the reservation and everybody was taking their critters off the reservation and we wanted to be able to keep the revenue here on the reservation so, therefore, we built this building," said Charles "BAM" Brewer, manager of the food program for One Spirit and the Charging Buffalo Processing Facility.

At the grand opening on Saturday, donors were personally thanked for their contribution.

"We're just thankful for all the sponsors who came and helped us out to complete this dream of being able to process our own sacred buffalo and also giving jobs to the people here by creating this business," Bamm continued.

Donors said they could not miss out on an opportunity to support an initiative that is three-fold.

"It provides food for people who need it, it provides economic development for this area and it also preserved culture of the Lakota people so we're proud to be a part of this project and happy to be here for the celebration today," said Liz Hamburg, Executive Director of the Black Hills Community Foundation.