It doesn’t surprise me anymore and I wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
My Lakota friends, who had moved off the Pine Ridge Reservation and into Rapid City – again – maybe a month ago, are moving back to the rez.
The reason: Rape. Out of control teenagers. Lack of support.
What’s lost: Friends. Jobs. Privacy. Hope.
What’s possibly gained: Resources to help the teens. Proximity to the college.
What’s actually changed: Living with relatives again. Living among family who drink and use drugs. No transportation in a place where homes/settlements are dozens of miles apart. Lots more walking. Winter is coming and heat will be a problem – propane is expensive when you don’t have a job.
My Lakota friend called me Sunday morning to ask a favor. Her two older daughters were down on the rez, “running wild.” She had no car to run around looking for them. The youngest daughter (my “godchild”) had been staying with her grandmother on the rez after being harassed by family members of the young man who raped her in Rapid City. She is 13 y.o.. Saturday night she stole her uncle’s car and took off. No one has heard from her since. My friend is desperate to move her things back to the rez so she can attend to her daughters’ needs.
But getting from the rez to Rapid City and back is not cheap, especially with gas prices these days. They had a brother-in-law who has a van and was willing to do it for them – but they needed to pay for gas for the van. So I called the grocery store/gas station that I have a charge relationship with and authorized $50 for gas.
So I’ve done my part right? Coughed up the cash again. I wish it were that easy. It isn’t! These people have become my friends. I worry about them. I wish I had more money so I could help them get on their feet. I don’t! I scrimp and save in order to have some “stash” money available when these emergencies crop up – as they inevitably do.
Many years ago, after my father died when I was 12, I remember being extremely upset by the fact that, even though my life had been turned upside down, everyone else was proceeding as usual. It’s the same thing now. I find it remarkable that someone I care about can have her life turned upside down and I continue my own merry life 2000 miles away. My friend was stressed and frantic. I spent the day enjoying one of the best summer days of the year – trimming a tree (dogwood, not Christmas), taking a drive to find veggies at local farm stands, making roast beef for dinner. Such incongruity!
I keep trying to turn my concerns about my friends over to God. I ask for inspiration – how best to help. I ask for miracles for them. I have to turn it over to God. When I try to think about it, my head spins.
One thing is certain – having Lakota friends has been an education in life issues I could not have gotten anywhere else!