Everyone wants to know if I enjoyed my trip to the reservation. But there is no single answer to that question. They ask if it was “successful.” But that answer depends on your definition of success and what you were trying to accomplish. They want to know if I had fun. Sometimes yes; sometimes no. I really don’t know how to answer those kind of questions.
Right now, I’m home. I’m catching up on chores and errands – the laundry is all done and gratefully I didn’t have to do it all by hand. I have the luxury of doing laundry at home and can do other things while the machines do the work.
I’m also trying to “process” my most recent visit to the Pine Ridge Reservation and some who live there. I say that I need to “process” the visit because there are always many layers of experience to any visit to the rez.
This visit was different from any of my prior visits because the first four days were spent traveling to Salt Lake City and back. It was a very exhausting way to start the visit. But visiting the rez can be tiring for me in itself, because it’s necessary to travel so many miles to get from one place to another, regardless of where you stay or who you want to see. When you add in the amazing amount of road construction being done on the county roads with the delays that causes, it becomes a daunting task. In the three and a half days we were on the reservation, we covered 611 miles – primarily traveling in and between the settlements of Oglala and Pine Ridge, with a side trip to Kyle and Wounded Knee. None of that was “highway” miles, of course.
The following was our itinerary for the 10 days. In the next few days, I’ll be writing more detailed accounts of some of these items. I hope you’ll bear with me as I try to get my thoughts organized.
Day 1: Flew to Denver, CO; rented an SUV; drove to Kyle, SD and checked into the Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort Motel and Restaurant; drove to Allen, SD to visit our Lakota friends then back to Kyle, SD and our room
Day 2: Drove to Allen, SD to pick up our friends; drove through the reservation and headed to W Jordan, UT (just outside Salt Lake City, UT); stopped in Casper, WY for the night
Day 3: Finished the drive to Salt Lake City, UT; visited my friends’ daughter at the facility in which she currently resides; stayed overnight in W Jordan, UT
Day 4: Another visit with my “goddaughter” in the morning; headed back to the rez; stayed overnight in Rawlins, WY
Day 5: Drove the rest of the way back to the rez; drove to Allen, SD to bring our friends home; drove to the Prairie Wind Casino, Hotel & Restaurant west of Oglala, SD to check into our room and get some rest.
Day 6: A late start after some much needed sleep; met with Davidica Little Spotted Horse, the driving force behind Independence Through Music and her mother, Jean Belt; made many calls to try to set up other visits; visited a disabled elder; enjoyed dinner with a ONE Spirit volunteer who lives on Pine Ridge Rez and one of her co-workers.
Day 7: Spent some time at the Heritage Center located at Red Cloud High School in Pine Ridge; explored the Sioux Nation market and checked prices; visited a new mom to whom I had given a sponsor for her children; visited the Pine Ridge CAP office; ate a tasty dinner at the Lakota Cafe in Pine Ridge; watched the return of the Crazy Horse Ride riders; met with a father to whom I’d given a sponsor to see his artwork; attended the free concert by the young people involved in the Independence Through Music project from 6 – 9 PM.
Day 8: Visited the daughter of a ONE Spirit sponsor – the daughter and her family live in Oglala; visited a couple who have a sponsor in France and saw their artwork; visited an elder who recently got a sponsor; attended the Veterans Powwow in Pine Ridge.
Day 9: Left Pine Ridge Reservation and headed back to Denver to fly home the next day; spent time in one of my favorite places on the way – Estes Park, CO.
Day 10: Returned the rental car and flew from Denver to Nashville to Hartford.
Day 11: Wait a minute . . . I’m home . . . chores . . . that’s right, I started this post on Day 11.
It would be Day 14 today and I’m finally getting it finished! I haven’t written as much as I had hoped by now. But I have downloaded and edited all our photos. I’ve edited some of our videos. I celebrated my daughter’s 32nd birthday. I watched the Bruins win the Stanley Cup!
I hope to get the videos done and do a lot more writing in the next few days. You’ll be in for some treats and a few hard tales when I do.