Building Bridges for Community


Building Bridges for Community
Mother Nature Needs Good Neighbors

In South Dakota, the Crescent Street bridge of Flandreau has been for over 10 years a source of concern and angst for residents and others. The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic. This leads to deterioration of law protection and maintenance attention to the Big Sioux River-Crescent Street intersection, including dam, bridge, street rights of way, and vandalism.  Access to the river is impeded for those who wish to fish, canoe, kayak, walk the embankments, and/or otherwise enjoy the river’s many benefits. Shutdown also closes the only direct access from the city to the Flandreau Indian School. 

 There is a long and controversial history to closing (and re-opening and reclosing) of the bridge. The split is represented primarily by representatives of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and Flandreau Indian School on one side and City and Moody County officials on the other with residents split between them. This geographic area also hosts a remarkably diverse population. Cultural groups involved include Native/Indigenous, Eastern and Western European, United Kingdom, Hispanic/Latino, Filipino, Hutterite, Mennonite, and African American.

The bridge’s condition and future is in open dispute, and ideas for addressing the situation diverge significantly. Pathways are needed for unifying the community.  Decisions, plans, community will, organizational structure, and funding are required for proposed solutions.  Developing a comprehensive plan to address this complex situation is the focus. 

Turtle lsland (North America) Learning Circle is a Native-based non-profit corporation operating in Michigan and South Dakota. TILC’s primary mission is to protect and promote diversity and recognition of the interdependence of all life – floral, fauna, and human – to flourish in mutually respectful relationships nurtured by intersecting learning circles.

A river is considered the lifeblood of a community, an integral part of the environment on which we historically depended for food, shelter, and basic survival. Flandreau – originally named Wakpa Ipaksan or River Bend — would not exist as a city without the Big Sioux River. Over time, traditional river-based activities have been eroded by negative effects on fauna, floral, and human life. River restoration, on the other hand, provides a wide range of social benefits, including physical and mental well-being, recreation, social cohesion, aesthetic impact, education, and cultural awareness.

The Big Sioux River, which traverses Eastern South Dakota 430 miles from Summit to Sioux City, Iowa, is the most heavily populated river basin in South Dakota.  Great strides have been made, especially south of Flandreau and including Sioux Falls, for improving river quality. Touched by the river’s bends on over half of its boundaries, the city has an unequaled opportunity to join a national conservation and restoration movement.

TILC has volunteered to take on these challenges. We encourage and welcome input from all who wish to be heard or recognized. We enlarge the scope of attention to the total area under consideration. We acknowledge the essential attributes of all resources and potential partners: river, bridge, dam, and land. We launch our best effort to inform, educate, and encourage necessary support, including funding, for our efforts.

Mother Nature Needs Good Neighbors