2018 Initiative Edit

Bring back the Horse and the Buffalo Nation will rise

In a conversation with Charles Deland, Sitting Bull was asked, “Are you a chief by inheritance and if not, what deeds of bravery gave you the title?” “My father’s name was Jumping Bull,” He replied. “My father was a very rich man and owned many ponies in four colors: roans, white, and gray.”



Creating a path to healing through the Spirit of the Horse


We come from a horse culture and are actively working to bringing horses back into the lives of our people.  We often talk of the affects the Indian Wars, forced assimilation, US federal Indian policy and boarding schools has had on our people but what we seemed to have forgotten was how traumatic the loss the of the horse was to our ancestors.  All across the world, people who are descendants of horse cultures are working towards bringing the teachings from the horse nation back.

The Lakota Oyate have a point of origin stories of the coming of sunkawakan ki, the horse and the gift they brought. Within those stories is the foundation of Lakota horsemanship, which began with developing a relationship first. Our ancestors weren’t just good horsemen, they were good relatives to sunkawakanoyate ki, the horse nation.  We are committed to preserving the teachings of the horse nation so that our children, grandchildren and those not yet born will flourish.

The Nokota


Photo Courtesy of the Nokota Horse Conservancy

The Nokota are descendants of horses that were confiscated from the Hunkpapa when Sitting Bull turned himself in at Fort Buford in 1881.  Nokota come in many colors but are predominantly blue and bay roans, blacks, and grays with a tendency to throw overo paint patterns, bald faces, and an occasional blue eye. This suggests selective breeding.  Horses that were bred and cherished for these genetic traits.  We would like to revive a Hunkpapa Breeding Program.

In 1883 the Marquis de Mores, who founded Medora, North Dakota, purchased 250 of the confiscated horses from post traders hoping to use the mares as a foundation stock.  In 1884, De Mores sold sixty of the Sioux mares to A.C. Huidekoper, founder of the immense HT Ranch near Amidon, ND.  Wallis Huidekoper wrote that some of the horses still carried scars from bullet wounds suffered in battle.  Over time the Nokota found themselves in the Badlands of North Dakota where they were fenced in when Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created in 1947.  Theodore Roosevelt National Park became the last stronghold of wild horses in the Dakota’s.


In the 1980’s the National Park Service began rounding up and removing the wild horses.  Frank and Leo Kuntz recognized the significance of the history of this unique breed and began purchasing horses from the park.  They would later found a breed registry and the Nokota Horse Conservancy in Linton, ND.  By 2000 the last of the Nokota were rounded up from the park and if not for the efforts of the Kuntz brothers this breed and their story would have been lost forever.

Project Goals:


Nokota Horse Preservation Herd

We would like to develop a Nokota Horse Preservation Herd that will serve as a living exhibit of our past.  A place where people can come and reach back into history and touch our ancestors.  A place of healing where teachings from the horse nation will be shared. We would eventually like to purchase or lease enough land to return the Nokota back to their natural state.  Back to the way Tunkasila intended them to be.


(1)  Bring Back The Horse

Our ancestors knew horses could affect you in powerful ways.  We would like to purchase mares for foundation stock from the Nokota Horse Conservancy.  By purchasing them we also contribute to the success of the NHC.  We want to create learning and healing opportunities for our people by sharing teachings from the horse nation.  We’d implement our own cultural and spiritual approaches to equine assisted wellness and therapeutic horsemanship.

(2)  Sunkawakan Ta Wounspe:  Teaching from the Horse Nation.

With the spirit of the horse, we will nurture leadership among our youth by re-instilling Woope (Traditional Social Rules to the Lakota way of Life) and Wotakuye (Lakota kinship), the foundation of Lakota society. We are committed to preserving the teachings of our ancestors.


Bison Herd

Pte Oyate Ki, the buffalo nation has always provided for the Lakota Oyate and the Lakota people have always respected our relationship with them.  We would like to create a bison coop to reclaim the land by reintroducing buffalo to Standing Rock.  We would like to recreate a buffalo economy and reduce our dependency on cattle which are an invasive species to this continent.



(1)      The Buffalo Nation will rise

We want to repatriate the bison herds of Yellow Stone, the last free-roaming herd of indigenous bison.  Every year the park culls their herd and hundreds are needlessly slaughtered.  We would like to reclaim the land by reintroducing buffalo to Standing Rock and recreate our buffalo economy.  If any bison herd deserves a chance to live it’s the herds in Yellow Stone.


(2)    Pte Oyate Ta Wounspe:  Teachings from the Buffalo Nation

Pte Oyate Ki, the buffalo nation are considered sacred to the Lakota Oyate.  There are many teachings that our ancestors shared of our relationship with the buffalo nation.  We would like to create environments where our elders and spiritual leaders can share their teachings.  A place where people can come to learn the traditional uses of buffalo, hide tanning, arts, crafts, drying meat, etc.  We want to reintroduce buffalo into our diets.

(3)  Eco-friendly herd management:  

Our ancestors had a small ecological footprint on the land.  We can’t expect our government to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels if we’re not willing to change our own behavior.  Our goal is to develop eco-friendly herd management practices completely off the grid utilizing a combination of geothermal, wind and solar energies.  We would also like to create learning environments where people can come and learn about the possibilities.


Food Sovereignty

Our elders tell us that at one time, the Mni Sose (Turbulent Waters), also known as the Missouri River was a garden of Eden.  A place where traditional medicines and food grew in abundance.  Prior to the flooding of the river, there was no obesity, heart disease, and diabetes among our people.  There was no need to go to the agency for health care needs.  All of the people’s needs were met along the river bottom. With the passage of the Pick-Sloan Act and the creation of Hydroelectric dams which flooded the river bottom our people became dependent on Indian Health Services.  Now we are being decimated by obesity, heart desease, and diabetes.



(1)  Community Gardens

We want to decrease our dependency on corporate America by producing our own food via community gardens.  We would like to work with North Dakota State University Extension Services and Sioux County Extension services to explore gardening options.


(2)  Canning to preserve food

We want to bring back the art of preserving food by drying, canning, etc.  By harvesting our own food from our own gardens we would like to share this skill set with the people of Standing Rock.


Projected Budget:


10 mares X $3,000=$30,000

Purchased from the Nokota Horse Conservancy in Linton, ND.

Lease $8,000 X  5 years=$40,000

640-acre range unit leased through the Bureau of Indian Affairs

Solar Panels/Batteries/Inverters=$10,000

Solar Generator=$4,000

Wind Turbine 2000W/Inverter=$3,000

Tillers, shovel, gardening equipment = $3000

Travel to get bison, also to get experts here to do workshops in our community = $5000

Project total:=$95,000

  • This phase of the mission has been completed and we no longer collect donations for Becoming One with the Horse, LLC

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