THE EARTHEN LODGE PROJECT
Climate Resiliency through Indigenous Knowledge
and Food Sovereignty
The recent IPCC reports have made it clear the harrowing impacts of the climate crisis to expect in coming years, and Oklahoma is no exception. Drought, heat waves, and climate disasters, like tornadoes, are expected to worsen throughout Oklahoma. As the climate crisis escalates the need for safe sanctuary that can house and feed marginalized communities is also escalating.
In response, WECAN is excited to announce the new Ponca Earthen Lodge Project for Food Sovereignty, based in Ponca Nation, Oklahoma! The project is being initiated through a partnership between Indigenous Ponca Nation Environmental Ambassador, Casey Camp-Horinek, the visionary of the project with WECAN Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake, as part of the WECAN Indigenous and Grassroots Women-led Food Security and Sovereignty Program. This project is led by Casey Camp-Horinek and the Women’s Society in the Ponca community. Please see below an inspiring video message from Casey about the inspiration and vision for this project.
Most immediately this year, as part of this project, we are building a traditional Earthen Lodge for food security and sovereignty, safe haven during climate disasters, and to address rising domestic violence in the region. Not only will this be a place for safe harbor and cultural ceremonies, but the Earthen Lodge can withstand extreme weather conditions and provide space to grow and store Ponca traditional first foods.
This project will work specifically with women in the Ponca community, as they seek seventh generation survival for their Nation in the midst of climate chaos. The food grown will use traditional ecological methods that rely on generational Indigenous knowledge, and address the degradation of soil and land in the region. Oklahoma ranks fourth in the country for crude oil production and extraction of natural gas. The Ponca tribe lives in a fossil fuel epicenter of fracking, pipelines, petrochemical plants, and refineries, which has led to severe pollution of the air, soil, and waters.
The site where the Earthen Lodge will be built in Ponca Nation, Oklahoma.
Photo Credit Courtesy of Casey Camp-Horinek.
Another impact of fossil fuel extraction in the Ponca Nation is the proliferation of man camps, which are proven to lead to increased rates of sexual and physical violence. This violence contributes to the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), which greatly impacts Indigenous communities across North America. Considering this impact, the project will also provide safe refuge for women who are or have experienced sexual or physical violence, including acting as temporary safe homes, ensuring the participation and leadership of women in program efforts, and providing opportunities for economic independence.
This project will be housed within WECAN's Indigenous and Grassroots Women-led Food Security and Sovereignty Program, which collaborates with Indigenous and frontline women to secure and grow food and medicinal herbs for their communities to support a sustainable path toward community resiliency during cascading crises of climate and colonization. Through garden and farm networks and tree nurseries, women are working to preserve and propagate plant knowledge, developing sustainability, community and local economies by returning to seeding adaptive practices, rooted in Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and inspiring solutions to modern-day challenges, like climate adaptation and mitigation.
Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation is a community leader, long-time Native rights activist, Environmental Ambassador, actress, and WECAN Board Member, international advisor and Ponca Program Coordinator. As traditional Drumkeeper for the Ponca Pa-tha-ta, Woman’s Scalp Dance Society, Camp-Horinek helps maintain the cultural identity of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma for herself, her family and her community. She has been at the forefront of grassroots community efforts to educate and empower both Native and non-Native community members on environmental and civil rights issues and she has raised her voice and taken action in countless forums across the world.