Crow Creek in the News

January 15, 2016

Kella grew up on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation and is a 1984 graduate of Crow Creek High School. Kella's father, Lyle Gravatt, is an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.

Kella is also a member of the Hunkpati Oyate Lodge Tribal Veteran Color Guard.
Kella With Horn

January 14, 2016

Jasmine Rae Pickner-Bell, enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, will be performing February 6th at the Verizon Center in Washington DC for the 25th Anniversary for the Teach For America. John Legend, Justin Timberlake, 20,000 people and President Obama are expected to be in attendance. Jasmine Rae Pickner-Bell is a World Champion Hoop Dancer.

Jasmine Rae Picknere

April 28, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Murschel, CACSD Coordinator
Phone: (605) 951-5174

One woman's fight to end violence

Veterans Memorial Lodge DOJ honors Crow Creek shelter director with award for dedicating career to helping abused women, children SIOUX FALLS, SD - Standing up for battered or abused women and children is a courageous feat in itself, but for one woman it has been her life's work. Lisa Heth is the executive director of the Wiconi Wawokiya shelter that provides victims' services on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in Fort Thompson. To recognize the years of hard work and devotion she has shown in reducing violence in central South Dakota, the Department of Justice (DOJ) honored her with its prestigious Crime Victim Service Award. The award ceremony was hosted by the DOJ Office for Victims of Crime in observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and held on April 21 in Washington D.C. "It was a very humbling experience and I'm very honored," Heth said of receiving the national award. After providing victim services for almost 25 years, she dedicates this honor to numerous advocates in Indian Country, staff members at Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc., and to God for illuminating her purpose in life. "We've gone through some tough times over the years, so I wouldn't feel right to not give glory and honor to our Creator for his guidance and his ability to show me the way and provide me with the strength to sustain and keep going. Heth said, "It's heartbreaking to see the pain abused women and children go through and thankfully God has provided us with the means to meet their needs." Wiconi Wawokiya Inc. translates from Dakota into "helping families" and often referred to as Project SAFE Shelter. But it also includes Children's SAFE Place, which is a member of the Child Advocacy Centers of South Dakota (CACSD). Heth's mission is to empower victims by providing them with a safe haven, while working to engage and educate communities throughout South Dakota on the dynamics of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, rape, and child abuse. "On behalf of the Child Advocacy Centers of South Dakota, we applaud Lisa on receiving this well-deserved honor from the Department of Justice, and appreciate the much-needed services she provides for so many victims," said CACSD Coordinator Casey Murschel. "Too often the public is unaware of the critical role victim services plays in the healing process of abuse victims, both children and adults. This award recognizes the importance of that work. Project SAFE Shelter and Children's SAFE Place both offer multidisciplinary victim services, including the battered women's shelter, and a site for forensic and physical interviews and exams for adult and child victims. In addition, Heth created a computer center for victims to search for jobs, take classes online and provide victims with services to relocate or restore financial independence. The nonprofit shelter opened its doors in 1985 and serves a large rural area in the central part of the state, including the Lower Brule Indian Reservations. And because of Heth's efforts in securing invaluable funding through grants on local, state, and federal levels, it will remain open. For more information about CACSD, call (605) 333-2226 or e-mail Casey Murschel at For more information on Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc., call (605) 245-2471, e-mail, or visit

Veterans Memorial Lodge
Volunteers with Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc., a shelter for abused women and children on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in Fort Thompson sort through boxes of donations. The Department of Justice recently awarded its executive director with the Victim Service Award. Photo courtesy of Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc.

The Crow Creek Communities:

Shawn Hawk confirmed for Cleverly world title defence

Nathan Cleverly will defend his WBO World light-heavyweight title against Shawn Hawk (from Crow Creek) at the Staples Center, Los Angeles on Saturday night. The American, 28, steps in at short notice and replaces Ryan Coyne who was forced out of the big showdown because of contractual problems. Welsh ring idol Cleverly said: 'He has a good record with a high KO ratio. So he's a big puncher and I won't treat him lightly because I can't get careless or reckless. 'He has a big opportunity by coming in late for a world title bid. He has nothing to lose. He is dangerous but I will be on my guard.'

Shawn Hawk from Crow Creek
Shawn Hawk

Protecting Families In Fort Thompson, S.D.

The Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc. shelter - also known as Project SAFE - is on the Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation in central South Dakota. It serves more than 350 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

"The needs are great," says the program's director Lisa Thompson-Heth. The center provides an array of services, including crisis counseling, medical assistance and legal advocacy.

The reservation spreads into three counties, including Buffalo County, the poorest in the country. According to the center's website, Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc. "has hope for a better tomorrow without violence in our community." [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Crow Creek grandmother gains nationwide support

A Crow Creek Sioux Tribe grandmother was recently surprised and overwhelmed by a wave of support.

Janice Howe was featured in a late 2011 NPR three-part series that focused on the public radio network's year-long investigation into South Dakota's foster care system under the Department of Social Services..

Read more

Vernon Ashley on Fathers Day

Each of Vernon and Rose Marie Ashley's offspring earned college degrees - and most of them got post-graduate degrees - at a time when few Native American students were even enrolling at universities. Higher education is a family tradition that the elder Ashley traces to his father, Wallace Ashley -- who was born Tasunke Hinto -- His Gray Horses -- on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in 1872.

Read more

Dacotah Tipis Celebrates it's 20th Anniversary

The Dacotah Tipis affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International began 20 years ago on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation and has operated "in good standing" without interruption since 1992. We are proud of that - and we are just as proud that we were the very first Habitat for Humanity affiliate on any Native American reservation.

We have a lot planned for 2012 and we would like to think that we are every bit as energized as our founders were when the began our mission, but we can say that with your help, this will be a big year for us. Read more

Crow Creek Sioux Tribe announces wind farm project

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe has created a new company called Sioux Wind to generate electricity from wind turbines that would be built on or near the tribe's reservation in central South Dakota.

The tribe will own 80 percent of the new company. The other 20 percent will be owned by Dalton Creations of Houston, which will lead the effort to raise $15 million from investors to launch the wind farm. Read more

New center graces Crow Creek Reservation

The new community center for the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in Fort Thompson stands out as inspiring, aesthetically pleasing - and practical.

Once the Boys & Girls Club of the Three Districts begins to use the new community center, funds that were seeping out of its old building in the form of lost energy might be used to better purpose. The new building is well insulated and uses geothermal technology - and that, said Ronda Hawk, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, will allow for greater energy efficiency than the building it will replace. That means money that's been poured into heating, for instance, can be channeled to better purpose. Read more

Other South Dakota Reservations:

Pine Ridge Boys & Girls Club to celebrate 20 years

SuAnne Big Crow dreamed of a "Happytown," a safe place where young people could take pride in their accomplishments and support each other, away from the poverty, alcoholism and violence endemic on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

In 1992, when the 17-year-old honor student and star athlete was killed in a car accident, SuAnne's mother pledged to honor her vision, batting aside obstacles to launch the first Boys & Girls Club in Indian Country. Read more

Oglala Sioux Tribe Poised To Take Control Of First Tribal National Park

The South Unit of the Badlands National Park, which is entirely within the Pine Ridge Reservation, could soon become the first ever tribally run National Park in the country.

The Park Service and the Tribe have "worked together" to manage the South Unit's 133,000 acres for almost 40 years. If a tribal national park is enabled by Congress through legislation, the Oglala Sioux people could manage and operate their lands. Read more

Feds charge 17 for selling drugs on Pine Ridge

A federal grand jury has indicted 17 people for distributing drugs on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, according to U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson. Among those indicted are three from Gordon and one from Chadron.

The charges for the distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine follow a multi-agency investigation. Ten of those indicted are under arrest. Read more

Surgical scars some see as racist provoke SD march

RAPID CITY, S.D. - Hundreds of people marched Monday in support of a man who says the letters KKK were carved into his stomach by a surgeon at a South Dakota hospital.

A YouTube video featuring 69-year-old Vern Traversie, a Lakota man who lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation, has gone viral in Native American communities. In it, Traversie shows a photo of his abdomen. Though he himself is blind, Traversie says he was told by others that the scars left after his heart surgery make out the hateful letters, and he is outraged. Read more