I haven’t posted about Pine Ridge for a bit because I wanted to give you a break from the heart wrenching stories. Okay, that’s not true. I needed a break from writing about them! It is hard enough to hear them first hand. When I write them, I relive them so I can get the pain and hurt across to you. Sometimes it becomes too heavy and I need a break.
But I recently heard a story that I knew had to be told.
A 15 year old girl was living with her grandfather in the northern part of the reservation so that she could attend high school in Rapid City. She wanted a good education, I assume. While she was in Rapid City, she was raped. Rape is enough for a 15 year old to cope with – this girl also became pregnant as a result of the rape.
The Lakota hold children as sacred, so her grandfather persuaded the girl not to get an abortion. (This is NOT a discussion on abortion vs pro-life; PLEASE do not make any comments to that topic – they will be deleted.) So now this young lady has an infant son.
She has moved out of the area she was living in with her grandfather and moved back to her mother’s house, which is in an area I serve. She is attending “virtual” high school so she can care for her baby and still keep up with her education. I hope and pray that she will be able to do both.
I will be looking for a sponsor for the young woman and her infant son. I will probably be adding other children from her mother’s home who will also need sponsors.
I am trying to understand all that this young girl must be feeling so that I can make an appropriate match with a sponsor for her. I have some memories of what it is like to be a teenager. I know the statistics that 2 of 3 Native American women will suffer sexual assault in their lifetimes. Does that mean I will have support? Or does it mean I will be expected to accept what happened, love my son and move on?
Did I want to go to college? Am I now looking at my hope for a better future being torn away? Will my son grow up with the same experiences of hunger, cold, lack of things that I did? Will he have any hope? Will I be able to give him any hope if I don’t have any for myself?
In urban and suburban areas, teens like this young girl might have a support group with others in the same situation. On the rez, distances are too great to gather girls for this kind of thing on a regular basis.
I don’t think I’ve managed to scrape the surface of this young woman’s feelings. I apologize for that. I think there are a few things that are difficult to write about if you haven’t experienced them and perhaps this is one of them.
But I certainly will work to find this girl a good sponsor for herself and her son.