The Tánji Gri Prairie Restoration Project

The Tánji Gri Prairie Restoration Project

By Christina Haswood, Edited by Olivia Brien


Behind the White Cloud Health Center (WCHC) is a walking trail where community members can exercise and observe nature. Soon, there may be a lot more to see during your walk. The Tánji Gri (“prairie returning home” in Báxoje Ic^e) Prairie Restoration Project is working to restore prairie around the reservation—including within the walking trail behind WCHC.

The objective of the project is to learn about and revitalize traditional Ioway land stewardship practices, along with replanting Indigenous plants to help heal Tribal lands and increase pollinator habitat. These objectives are “climate resilience strategies” outlined in the “Pathways to Climate Resilience” report completed in 2023. The project also seeks to address invasive species by promoting native habitats.

This project is possible through a partnership with WCHC, where Community Health Representatives (CHR) help maintain the trail and continue public engagement. Eventually, health workers may also help educate Tribal members on the medicinal benefits these plants can bring and encourage others to incorporate these plants into their health routines.

This seed is sourced from Ioway homelands and includes 85 species of native forbs and grasses. Photo by Olivia Brien.

The seeds for the project were provided through a partnership with the University of Kansas and a National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR grant. The seed mix contains 85 species of native forbs and grasses and has been spread throughout multiple restoration sites on the reservation. Sites include the walking trail behind WCHC that was hand-seeded by community members in April of this year and a 40-acre area within the Leary Site—a unit of Ioway Tribal National Park—seeded using a 10-foot seed drill. All the seeds were initially gathered throughout the state of Iowa, bringing seeds from Ioway homelands to the reservation.

Brett Ramey, who leads the Tánji Gri Project, drills seed into the Leary Site, part of the Ioway Tribal National Park. By stopping agricultural pursuits on this site and devoting it to prairie restoration, the sacred site will be better preserved. Photo by Olivia Brien.

The Tánji Gri Prairie Restoration Project is just getting started, with future plans still in development. Community participation is a significant component. Upcoming events include a workshop on Friday, May 10th, at the George Ogden Community Building and a field trip to the Konza Prairie in June. Tribal members and the entire Ioway Community are encouraged to participate in upcoming events!