They had a record-breaking snowstorm in Washington DC and the middle Atlantic states this past weekend. I was in Tampa enjoying 60 degrees – cool by their standards but great compared to the 20’s in Massachusetts, which is home. I didn’t watch much TV or read much news while I was away. I did catch the word that I knew would become the newest catch phrase. Snowpocalypse. After hearing that word, I knew we were in for mind-numbing stories of Washingtonians woes. So I ignored the news from then on.
When we got home though, I thought it prudent to see if anything was going on in the world of any significance to my life and our national interests. So Monday night I watched the news again. It was so sad. The people in DC were still digging out from under an average of 2-2.5 feet of snow. Plows were getting stuck in the snow on the roads. There were people who had no power after 3 days. I felt bad for them. But the media kept going on and on about it. Not just one story! Several. You’d think they had never seen a lot of snow before. I know the amount was unusual but snowpocalypse?!! Please!!!
The next story took us to the West Coast, where there were still threats of mud slides due to excessive rain. Again, very sad for the folks involved. But no one forced people to build in areas that are endangered by wildfires and mud slides.
I wondered what had happened in the middle of the country. Was there any bad weather anywhere else? Were there other people living in difficult conditions? Of course, I knew the answer to the question because I read local newspapers for that area online. I have friends who live in that area. It brought to mind again a question that never is far away from me. “Why does the national news media ignore the center of this country?” I have a secondary question that often raises my ire. “Why does the national news media ignore the disasters that occur on the reservations in South Dakota, where Americans live in third world conditions?”
I had just received 4 more families on the Pine Ridge Reservation who were looking for sponsors to help them; asking for clothes, household necessities (cleaning products, toilet paper), shoes, food, blankets and heating assistance. I knew of the emergency on the Cheyenne River Reservation caused by an ice storm – people without power and water for weeks. I had spoken with the grandmother on Pine Ridge whose family had been housebound from December 24 to December 29 due to a blizzard that had created 8-10 foot drifts of snow across roads and driveways, burying cars and half-burying homes. I knew that the homes on the reservations are substandard – few are insulated, many have drafts that blow through; people have no money for repairs or improvements. If you’ve read any of my other posts about reservation life, you have an idea. Why is it so few people know about the conditions there? It’s because the national news media ignores them.
I was so angry I decided to email a comment to the ABC World News Tonight team to “express my sympathy for the poor folks in DC.” That was when I saw it!!! ABC News will be starting a new feature about things that Americans are “fed up” with. I am certainly fed up with the way the national news media ignores the reservations in South Dakota.
You don’t need me to tell you that I jumped right in and wrote a long, detailed account of what I’ve told you here for almost 2 years. If you’ve read any of my posts over the 2 years, you know I do not overlook an opportunity put in my path.
I will keep looking for opportunities and try to make some where none appear. As I told ABC, it amazes me that the people of the US will respond to any emergency they hear about, anywhere in the world. People in this country send money to aid those in many third world nations. More interesting to me, however, is that people in other “developed” nations are sending money and aid to people living in third world nations right here in the USA! That’s right! I have recently given rez families sponsors from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan and Poland!!! But I have not had half that number from the US. Why not? Because most don’t know or don’t believe that conditions can be that bad in this country. Those who have been to reservations in South Dakota know differently.
I will continue to work (that’s volunteer work) for the all-volunteer non-profit organization One Spirit (nativeprogress.org) that tries to help children and elders on Pine Ridge. I will continue to write to try to bring an awareness to this problem.
The reasons I do this are complex. I love the Lakota people – in general and the specific people I have met. I have dear friends who live in unimaginable conditions in this country. I think it is a SIN that people live in those conditions in a country that has given so much to so many others. We must take care of the people who gave the most to this country. They “gave” their homes and their lifestyles to our greed and our belief that we were superior and knew God’s will. Surely we have enough gratitude to give something back.