Meet Our 2021 Apprentices

We are delighted to introduce Zani Otuwe‘s 2021 Apprentices. Realizing it is essential to begin to train the next generation of leaders, Makoce Ikikcupi solicited applications to a four-month apprenticeship centered around earthlodge building and community development. We were looking for young adults interested in all aspects of cultural revitalization, including traditional housing and teachings, language, ceremony, food-sovereignty, and simple-living. In addition to earthlodge building, during their time with us, these apprentices will be learning about permaculture design and implementation, how to make garden sunlodges, about traditional plants, foods,  and medicines, history, language, land justice, and traditional governance practices in today’s world. In June 2021, we selected four outstanding young people who are now living on-site at Zani Otunwe. After completing the apprenticeship, it is our hope that these young people will be the earthlodge builders and sustainable living advocates of the future.

Jodi Gregerson

Haŋ mitákuyepi, čhaŋté waštéya napé chiyúzapi! 

My name is Jodi Gregerson and I’m from Standing Rock, though I currently live on Anishinaabe land near Detroit, Michigan. 

In addition to language reclamation and traditional ethnobotany, I love taking pictures, reading, traveling, movie and game nights with friends, and hanging out with my siblings.

I’m so grateful for this apprenticeship opportunity, and I’m looking forward to learning and experiencing everything that I can and helping to provide more opportunities to future generations of Očhéthi Šakówiŋ people.

James Jones

Hello, I’m James Allen Jones. I’m 19 years old. I am both Hunkpapa Lakota and Santee Dakota. I’m proud to say I’m a part of Makoce Ikikcupi or Land Recovery. The reason I’m here at Zani Otunwe is to try and reconnect in a way to those who came before, reconnect to my ancestors. Coming from Standing Rock, I was always taught two things: how to identify and use plants because of my mom, and how my people lived. This opportunity to be at Zani Otunwe is to reconnect to my people in a way. Some of my interests are art (all kinds), traveling, napping, and having all the fun I can.

Justin Barse

Hau. I am Justin Barse, currently enrolled on the Lake Traverse Reservation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. I was born in Wheaton, Minnesota and am of Wahpekute descent. I was raised in large families and through the years have done a lot of moving around. I am 25 years old and I know I have so much more yet to learn. I hope to learn, understand, and pass on the ways and culture as they were passed on the countless years before me. Tunkasina k’a Wakantanka, wopida!

Mikey Weston

Hau mitakuyapi, Mikey emakiyapi!
The biggest gain I have from the first couple weeks at Zani Otunwe is realizing how artificial life is. People live so close to nature everyday but never walk in the grass barefoot. Standing on mother earth is different than standing with Unci Maka. Walking down a sidewalk feels foreign to me now. Houses with electricity and air conditioning makes me feel very disconnected from my ancestors. I feel like I don’t belong in the towns. Too many conflicting emotions are present in daily lives when we should all just breathe and listen to the zintkada oyate


1 Comment

  1. Sinkpehna says:

    “Atah, we know you’re there. It’s Traditional GiveAway time for family. We have make/Unci for GiveAway because it’s available now. For Babies Toddler Kindergarten and 1st-12th, Adults. Oyate. Building Curriculum and you and your knowledge are already beginning, again. We’ve always been with that HeartBeat Mother Earth and Mother Nature have, we hold that very close.
    Keep informed with each other, we’re the Thuwin’s Dekshi’s Lekshi’s you haven’t met yet.
    “Siso, do one of those cool unique prayers… oiye’s ⬅️? Dekshi Art Owen (Tokhel es (?) forgot his name…😶. Oops, he’s probably awake watchin’ and so funny. We’d have a blast. Please tell these youngsters. We’re already creating songs for all those we know we’re somewhere. They’ve been home? And we’re really good at being HeartBeat helpers of Mother Earth and Mother Nature. Add some shiny new fun to our very patient Souls”. We’re all hurting now, again.


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