Basic Information

Our Solution

Sovereign Tipi

Our tagline:

Sovereign Tipi: Passivhaus Tiny Homes for the Oyate

Our pitch:

Problem: Located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation... Lack of affordable housing, high energy cost and food insecurity plague my community.  With a growing number of young adults returning from college and returning military veterans only compound the housing shortage. However, with innovation and collaboration we can easily address all three of these issues permanently and sustainable.  

Project: The Sovereign Tipi is a Passivhaus tiny home project designed to address homelessness, high energy cost and food insecurity while creating job opportunities on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Our Tiny homes are passive by design and construction, incorporate active and passive solar energy, and utilize rainwater irrigation and/or redirect greywater to our attached garden.  As a highschool student at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation, I witnessed high levels of both homelessness or overcrowding compounded by many families struggling financially to meet high heating and food cost. This experience had a profound impact on me personally and professionally.  While in College I worked for a construction company that build custom homes, that is when I learned about Passivehaus (Passive) design.  I later took a Design Thinking class where I developed the "Bond, Build & Borrow" business model.

Community Change: I have seen first hand the growing number of empowered community members working together to address our own needs and issues in these areas.  We have community gardens, a growing awareness of solar energy and other renewable energies and this tiny home project is one solution to our housing shortage crisis.  

Where our project is located:

Pine Ridge, SD, USA

The topic our project addresses:

  • Solar
  • Housing
  • Food
About Your Solution

What makes our project innovative:

Sovereign Tipi utilizes renewable energy technologies but the innovation is in our approach/business model of Bond, Build and Borrow.  We are beginning our fundraising campaign to lower the overall cost of building a tiny home, We depend on volunteers and "sweat equity" to lower/eliminate labor cost and we refer future home owners to the local CDFI for financing a affordable mortgage loan. We work with CDFI's because traditional Mortgage loans usually do not cover tiny home mortgages.    

How we use technology in our project:

Our goal is to be Net-Zero Energy by construction and design. Each home will incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to reach not-zero energy usage.  We will utilize both passive and active solar technology, Solatube lights with natural light in interior spaces, optional building/tight building envelope design, energy star appliance and on demand hot water heaters.  Fiber Board siding from recycled material. Rainwater harvesting irrigation and redirect greywater for gardens.

Our project goals over the next 12 months:

my project goal for the next 12 months is to build 12 homes for the community.

Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our project to affect the lives of more people:

My vision over the next three years is to have demonstrated proof of concept here locally and expand to other reservations.

Highlights from our project:

This has been a tremendous learning experience in commitment and perseverance.  The community has shown interest, appreciation and support for my project.  

The cities where we operate or plan to operate in the next 12 months. First city:

Denver, CO, USA

Second city:

Pine Ridge, SD, USA

How our project will be accessible and affordable to our community:

Our project will be affordable by combining donation funds with sweat equity and mortgage loans through local CDFI's.  

How many people we are currently serving with our project:

We are currently working with three families, who are logging "sweat equity" hours for their future home purchase, to building a prototype home for an community elder.

How many people we will be serving with our project in the 12 months and the next 3 years:

Our target is to work with 12 families within the next 12 months and scale that to 24+ families a year over the next three years.

About Your Team

How our project team is organized:

Hybrid of For Profit and Nonprofit

How many people work on our project team:


How many years we have been working on our project:

1-2 years

Our revenue model:

Our revenue model is "Bond, Build & Borrow".  

We started this project with my personal savings and construction construction remnants from past building projects and sheer determination to make this work.  

Bond: Once our first prototype is complete, demonstrating our proof of concept, we will launch our crowdfunding campaign and other community bond campaigns to help with associated start up cost.  

Build: Sweat equity is at the heart of our revenue model.  Future homeowners will work together to build each home to log sweat equity hours to use toward the purchase of their own home, virtually eliminating labor cost. 

Borrow: Future homeowners will work with local CDFI's to quality for a home loan which covers the building material with a 7% markup to cover a modest profit and overhead to insure sustainability of the project.  

Partnership Potential

Why we are applying to Solve:

We are applying to Solve to connect with and learn from other like minded people using innovation and collaboration to solve some of the most pressing issues facing our community and other underserved communities.  This would building our network and knowledge of innovative technologies beyond what we could accomplish alone.  

The key barriers for our project:

We are determined to succeed and overcome ever possible barrier.  Ever setback we have encountered to this point has only made us stronger. Being about of Solve would accelerate our progress exponentially.   

The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Fellows:

  • Peer-to-Peer Networking
  • Technology Mentorship
  • Connections to the MIT campus
  • Impact Measurement Validation and Support
  • Media Visibility and Exposure

Solution Team

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