HOPE FOR HOUSING

National Guard soldiers build, repair homes on the Crow Reservation
Thursday, August 8, 2019
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Photo by Luella N. Brien

Hawaii Army National Guard engineers talk while working on a home in the Veteran’s subdivision in Crow Agency. The soldiers came to Crow Agency as part of the Innovative Readiness Training program, which matches needs of a community with training needs of the solders.

Article Image Alt Text

Photo by Luella N. Brien

Major Kyle Halseth of the Montana Army National Guard (left) and 1st Lt. Cliff Yim with the Hawaii Army National Guard discuss the progress of the nearly 90 soldiers who have been working on a new home, as well as repair and rehabilitation projects in Crow Agency.


The Apsáalooke people have partnered with the U.S. Military for over 150 years, and those partnerships continue as National Guard solders from Hawaii and Montana work with the Apsáalooke Nation Housing Authority to rehabilitate one house, build another and complete other projects over the course of the last few weeks, said ANHA Reno District Commissioner Lanny Real Bird.

“It’s been going on for 150-plus years, we called them ‘scouts’ but they served side-by-side with Miles and Custer, we had code talkers like Barney Old Coyote and his brother Hank Old Coyote,” Real Bird said. “This is another example of the Crow and the U.S. government working together as entities for the betterment of each of their civilizations.”

The Montana Army National Guard 260th Engineers and 230th Engineers, supported by the Hawaii Army National Guard 230th Engineers, will complete construction new home in the veteran’s subdivision in Crow Agency this month.

“What they are doing it vital,” Real Bird said. “ It gives people a safe place to stay. People are grateful for their service to our community and are recognizing their efforts, even if it’s not their home that’s getting repaired.”

Real Bird said many people are bringing the soldiers food and water throughout the work day just to show their gratitude.

The soldiers came to Crow Agency as part of the Innovative Readiness Training program, which matches needs of a community with training needs of the solders.

“Any community can sign up and get on board with these types of projects,” Halseth said.

The project will conclude on Aug. 14.

Marilyn Simpson, Pryor District AHNA Commissioner said building partnerships like the IRT program with the National Guard is beneficial to everyone involved.

“We supplied the materials and the National Guard supplied the labor and they get the training they need,” she said. “It’s really important, and (the soldiers) are fulfilling a need.”

Two years ago as part of the IRT program National Guard soldiers repaired vacant homes in the veteran’s subdivision, and last year they made repairs on veteran’s homes across all six districts on the reservation, Simpson said.

“It is a blessing,” she said. “There are so many of them, they can get it all done, and they are taking care of a great need.”

In addition to building and repairing homes, the Montana Army National Guard 260th Engineers will also be excavating a site for a future new construction build and installing utilities for future new construction builds.

Hawaii Army National Guard 1st Lt Cliff Yim, the acting commander of the 230th Engineer Company is in charge of 49 solders from Hawaii, many of them Native Hawaiians.

“It’s similar to Hawaii, but drier,” he said. “It’s very beautiful country here, everyone has been very friendly to us and the culture is similar to native Hawaiian culture, so it feels very natural here.”

As “vertical engineers” the soldiers working on the construction projects in Crow Agency need regular training constructing homes and shelters. Yim said he was in charge of a group of Nation Guardsmen who recently built shelters in Hawaii after a volcanic eruption.

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