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Archive for the ‘Dan Ross’ Category

ABC NEWS Has Come Through For Pine Ridge

Over a year ago, I was contacted by a researcher/producer for ABC News.  She had found one of my blog entries (in which I was chastising ABC for not paying attention to the disasters in the west, especially on the reservations).  She told me they were working on a Diane Sawyer prime time special in her “A Hidden America” series.  The prior one had been on life in Appalachia.  This time they were planning to profile Pine Ridge Reservation.

Those of you who have been reading my blog will know that there is not much that fires up my hopefully righteous passion more than talking about life on Pine Ridge Reservation.  So talk we did, for almost an hour.  And we emailed – resources that they might find helpful.

I had heard that Diane Sawyer was out on the rez this past summer when I was there (no, we didn’t happen to cross paths traveling the approximately 2 million acres on the rez.  But I did here that she went up to KILI Radio one of the days I was there.  Try to keep that quiet when you’re talking to DJ’s.

I am giving you a link to the promo for the show.  Please, if you have ever enjoyed or been moved by anything I have written, I implore you to watch the 20/20 program on Friday at 10 PM.  See with your own eyes the good and the bad of Pine Ridge.  You may not find it possible but this place does exist.  I have been there and I suspect they will not tell you the worst story nor show you the poorest homes.  But it will still be worse than you expect.  After all, the living conditions on Pine Ridge rival those in Haiti and the life expectancy on Pine Ridge rivals that of Burundi.

I work for an organization that works to support self-sufficiency – not an easy thing to have on Pine Ridge.  Many of us work to keep the dam from breaking by trying to improve the life of one person at a time.  The big picture can be truly overwhelming.

If you can’t watch the show when it airs, record it or have a friend record it for you.

I will be honest.  I prayed for someone with greater reach than mine to focus attention on the needs of Pine Ridge.  I did not know (or care) who it would be.  I am grateful to ABC News because I know that if more people see the conditions, they will be moved to respond.  I believe in the American people and I know in my heart that things can improve.  I do not have the answers but I know it can be done.

Thank YOU for helping them to raise awareness.  You can do that by sharing this blog post with everyone you know.

Oh yes, here’s the link to the promo:  http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/hidden-america-children-plains-14708439#.TpOhj9LOE2E.facebook

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If you’re in IA and have passed a young man walking down the road with a golf club cart . . . without the clubs . . . you have had the honor of passing Dan Ross.  Dan is the young musician who has decided to “find himself” in a most unique manner.  He will be walking from IA to the OR coast to raise awareness of the needs of young people on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Dan experienced one learning experience before he set out.  He suffered what he believed to be a knee injury.  In reality, it was a hip problem that caused his gait to be faulty, which then injured the knee.  The result is several life lessons:  preparation is important in any endeavor, even the most exciting; life will always throw us curve balls – adaptability is essential (hence the club cart for his backpack rather than his back); nature is even more capricious than life – things like hail can fall from the sky so having a shelter to wait out the storm safely can be a life saver.

You see, this endeavor has taken me along a philosophical route.  But I will update you a bit in the particulars of this walk as well.

As Dan walks through IA, he is fortunate to have the hospitality of the Rodemeyer home.  Lu’Ella Rodemeyer has picked Dan up from his stopping place for the night then returned him to that spot the next day to continue his walk.  Another lesson:  Friends are essential in life.  They can mean the difference between success and failure.  They can nurse us through our injuries and pain.  Rather than the isolation of a solo journey, Dan is finding the companionship of friends (new and old) is a blessing on the road.

In Dan’s last Facebook post of June 15th, he said,

A BIG THANK YOU to Lu and Dan Rodemeyer, Dan Winkowitsch, and Kurt and Corky Wolf for giving me a place to stay, feeding me and making me feel at home as I journey westward through Iowa!  Without your help I would not have made it this far.

So Dan has about 250 miles under his belt thus far.  And already lessons have been learned — or at least been available for the learning.  Imagine what the next approximately 1750 miles will bring!

If you want to follow Dan’s progress on a more detailed basis, check out the Facebook group Dan Ross Walks to the Pacifichttp://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_125643704165866&ap=1

If you prefer a brief synopsis, stick with this blog.  I will continue to follow Dan’s progress and well as provide my philosophical take on his experiences.

If you want to donate to the cause that Dan hopes to raise funds for as he raises awareness of the youth needs on Pine Ridge Reservation, go to the ONE Spirit website:  http://nativeprogress.org

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That’s right, the journey has begun.

As you recall, Dan Ross has undertaken this long walk to increase public awareness of the conditions on Pine Ridge Reservation, to help raise funds for youth programs on the rez and to learn more about himself.

Dan has already begun to complete one of those goals.  He’s learned that he pushes himself harder than he should sometimes.  That led him to injure his knee.  That has brought the reality of “The Tortoise and the Hare” home in a direct, physical way.

Dan has begun walking through Illinois, albeit at a somewhat slower pace.  He will be keeping us updated on his progress.  Here is his most recent journal entry:

Hi everyone,

Sorry for keeping you all in the dark for so long with no updates on my progress. It’s just hard to give news on my progress when I feel like there hasn’t been any to speak of. My knee injury, called illiotibial band syndrome (ITBS), has delayed me longer than I had hoped. However finally, after resting, seeing a physical therapist, and doing LOTS of stretching exercises, I am easing back into a consistent walking schedule. I’ve been racking up the miles here in Illinois in small increments, so the journey is indeed underway. It may not have started how I imagined, but I suppose most things seldom do. Thank you all for your positive words of encouragement – they help take some weight off my shoulders. I will continue to give updates on how things are going, especially since they are going a bit better now.

Also, don’t be afraid to remind me at any time that, “SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE!!!”


So link up and follow along as Dan moves steadily along the 2000 plus miles from Illinois to the Oregon shore.  It’s sure to prove interesting.

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Bad news was received before Dan Ross’ Walk for Awareness of the conditions and needs of the youth on Pine Ridge Reservation could begin.

Here is the latest entry from Dan’s journal:

This journey is off to a much more difficult start than expected. I have suffered an overuse injury in my right knee that requires some rest to heal. After seeing my doctor, I am convinced that I must postpone the start of the walk for 2 weeks, otherwise it will plague me for the entire walk, and could even make walking impossible at times. Once it heals, I will have to go nice and easy, walking slowly and controlled so it does not get aggravated. The injury was caused by me increasing my training too rapidly, and walking too hard and fast –  I think I was a little too motivated/excited for my own good. In the long run, I think it’s best that it happened before the walk, not during it. This has been incredibly frustrating, but I am just considering it all to be part of the journey – a very difficult part. Think positive thoughts everyone.

Dan is right – it is a minor set back.  I agree that it was probably caused by being “too motivated/excited”.  That’s the way it is with things sometimes.  They are so important to us and we want to do them so well that we overdo it initially.

Dan has a lot of support and I’m sure he will get this project off the ground after his knee heals with a more balanced and moderate pace.  I think that is what he was hoping for before all the hype began.

In the meantime, my friends, it gives us time to find more sponsors for Dan’s Awareness Walk.  This walk is not just a personal adventure for Dan anymore.  It is about raising awareness and funds to promote programs for the youth of Pine Ridge Reservation.  So get out there and share – by word of mouth and word of internet.  Ask your friends to share, re-tweet and talk about this gift of remarkable generosity and courage.  Encourage them to sponsor Dan’s fund-raising by going to ONE Spirit’s website:  http://nativeprogress.org to donate.  Both PayPal and checks by snail mail work.

Let’s see how much more support we can get for Dan in the next 2 weeks!!

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I promised that I would keep you up to date on the AWARENESS WALK of Dan Ross, the Rockford, IL musician.  So here is the second installment.

Don’t forget that Dan is walking to raise awareness of the conditions on Pine Ridge Reservation and to raise funds for ONE Spirit to build a Safe House for youth on the reservation.  Raising funds mean Dan needs what? …..that’s right, SPONSORS!

You can pledge money per mile (2000 miles)  per town (70 towns), per state (6 states) – however you prefer.  Just remember that the money will go to build and furnish a home where young Lakota can go when they feel their own home is not safe for them.  I have written enough on the problems that these kids face (alcoholic family, domestic abuse, etc) that you can understand why they might need a safer place from time to time.

Donations can be made to ONE Spirit via PayPal or by sending check/money order to:  ONE Spirit, PO Box 3209, Rapid City, SD 57709.

If you are in the Cedar Rapids, IA area on Saturday, April 23rd, there is a fantastic fund raiser being help as Dan travels through that town.  Tickets are only $10 in advance or $12 at the door.  There is a link for more information ( http://heartforpineridge.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/2290972 ) but let me give you a bit of a preview – because I sure wish I was going to be there!

The main part of the program will be the appearance of Lawrence Swallow, a Lakota storyteller, singer and actor.  Dan Ross will also be part of the show with his music.

In March, Dan Ross spent a week on Pine Ridge Reservation to get to know some of the people he will be helping and to experience Lakota culture in a more personal way.

While he was there, Dan kept a journal, as he will continue to do when he begins his walk in about one week.  I found it very interesting and personal.  I will include it here so that you, too, may start to know Dan Ross and Pine Ridge.  I am also including a link here to an update that includes a set of maps so you can follow Dan along his anticipated route.  That link is http://mail.google.com/a/nativeprogress.org/?ui=2&ik=5bcc2b9c68&view=pt&search=inbox&th=12f44c39409152ad

 

Now I’m going to let Dan Ross do the “talking” – enjoy reading his journal of his first visit to Pine Ridge Reservation.

Recently Dan Ross visited Pine Ridge Reservation in preparation for his walk for Pine Ridge Youth in April. The following are some of the highlights of his journey.
PINE RIDGE VISIT JOURNAL
Saturday March 12th, 2011
On the road leaving Rockford, IL by 8:00am. I decided to drive my walking route to the reservation instead of taking the interstate so I could see the places I plan to stay along the way. Driving on state highways amounted to less mileage, but it was still more time-consuming because of the stop signs, slower speed limits, and turns. However, these “cons” of taking this route were actually what made the drive more interesting, and kept me awake and alert.
Saw quite a few things worth noting: a bald eagle in flight, THOUSANDS (maybe 10,000) migrating geese in the air and on the ground in eastern SD, 2 separate herds of about 30 whitetail deer near the Missouri River, and I lost count of the Casey’s convenience stores.
Arrived in Kadoka, SD at the Dakota Inn Motel around 10:00pm, having gained an hour upon entering a different time zone (only to lose it the next day for Daylight Savings). The staff was nice, and the room cheap. I realized it was the first time I’d ever had my own hotel room all to myself. In fact, it was the first road trip I’d ever embarked on by myself. Slept well that night after so many hours on the road.
Sunday March 13th, 2011
Checked out of the motel by 10:00am, and made it out to the Badlands by 11:00am. I’ve visited the Badlands three times before, but always in the summer, so it was awesome to see them with snow. The feeling of isolation you get when you come to this place was magnified by the lack of tourists this time of year, which I enjoyed. Spent most of the day hiking on and off trails, making sure I didn’t get lost. Being the paleontology geek that I am, I was constantly on the lookout for fossils of ancient mammals, something for which the Badlands are quite well-known. My treasure hunting was successful too! I found a 10-12″ inch long lower jaw bone fossilized in a boulder near the “Saddle Pass” trail! After taking photos, I reported it to the Visitor Center and the rangers were excited to hear about it.
After hiking, I found a campsite in Cedar Pass and set up my tent with temperatures dropping into the 30s, with 20 degree temps forecasted for a low. Seeing as the lowest temperatures I’ll have to endure on the walk will most likely be in the 30s, staying warm this night would prove that I am well-enough prepared. So, I bundled up with five layers on my top half, three on my legs, a handkerchief around my head with another around my neck, and crawled into my 15-degree sleeping bag…
Monday March 14th, 2011

Though I did stay warm throughout the night, I didn’t sleep that well. Staying down in the sleeping bag gets stuffy, but when I let some fresh air in, it’s 20 degrees! I tried opening a small breathing hole, but after a while, my nose would begin to freeze – so it was a bit difficult. I awoke with the sun still below the horizon, packed up my tent (which was covered inside and out with frost), and slowly made my way out of the Badlands, making a few stops along the way.
Driving into Pine Ridge I didn’t really know what to expect. I felt like an intruder, or at the very least a foreigner. I spotted the sign for the Singing Horse Trading Post and slowed the car. The driveway was dirt and water had cut deep into some places, sculpting a sort of miniature Badlands landscape for my car to drive on. I made it past the worst part without scraping bottom, and parked in front of my home for the next five days. Rosie, the lady who runs the place, was outside. She greeted me with a big smile and welcomed me inside, making me feel less like an outsider.
In the afternoon I met John Dubray, a Lakota man who has been trying to get a youth center built in the Allen area on the eastern side of the reservation. He told me there are a couple youth centers in the towns of Pine Ridge and Kyle, but in outlying areas farther away the kids didn’t have much. John stressed to me the importance of receiving guidance in your childhood that would ultimately shape who you are and how you make decisions. As a result of the poverty, unemployment, and alcoholism, many of the kids lack this guidance and grow up in fear, never learning their own culture and the values of the Lakota people. The youth center in Allen would bring those kids opportunities in sports and the arts, and most importantly a safe place where they can learn and just have fun. Listening to John was eye-opening, and gave me much to think about after he left.
Tuesday March 15th, 2011
Slept well, as I was quite tired from my restless sleep in the Badlands the night before. Rosie’s three dogs are already my best friends, crawling all over me, competing for attention. I decided to go for a drive without any particular destination, and wound up in a place called Kiza Park. The road to the park became so muddy I had to pull over and walk some of the way. The park was also muddy because it had recently been flooded my snowmelt. The place seemed abandoned (partly because I was the only one there), but there was a basketball court, park kitchen, fire pit, outhouses, etc. As I was taking some pictures, a man in a truck drove by and yelled, “Is that you Bill?”, I replied, “No, I’m Dan…”. “Oh, you look like Bill from here”, he said. Not really sure what to say at this point, I walked over so we at least wouldn’t have to yell.
He asked me where I was from and I told him about my walk and why I was on the reservation. It turns out One Spirit had helped him build the park kitchen, and his whole extended family lived in the area near the park. The man invited me for a ride, so I accepted and off we went on the back roads. He told me how the Lakota people have large extended families and stay close usually, relying on each other in a small community. He stressed to me that although people from the outside might look at the trailers they lived in and feel sorry for them, they were actually quite happy, maybe happier than most. “We have a strong culture” he said, “Most Americans don’t have that, and that is why their lives are always about making money”. He laughed and went on to say that making money was a “nice hobby”, implying that it did not qualify as a culture. I would have to agree.
Wednesday March 16th, 2011
Today I met with an elder named Richard Broken Nose, who lived with his family in a house north of Pine Ridge. It was a little difficult to find the place, as there aren’t many landmarks to reference in the prairie, but I made it. I was first greeted by three happy puppies wagging their tails, then by the elderly man, who shook my hand and welcomed me inside. We began talking and he explained the problems the youth are having, focusing on the high drop-out rate and the fact that many of those who do graduate do so with very low grades. He said they don’t get the care they need as kids. I suppose it makes sense that when you receive little care from adults, you have less care to give for things like school. Talking to him reassured me once again that I’ve chosen a worthy cause to walk for.
In the afternoon, I met up with John DuBray again over at Porcupine Butte, where the local radio station called KILI Radio is located. He had reserved some radio time to talk about the youth on the reservation and how I’m going to help raise money with the walk. I was quite nervous before going on the air, still feeling like a foreigner, and hoping I didn’t make a fool of myself. We went on and John talked about trying to build the youth center in Allen to help the kids there, and then turned it over to me to introduce myself and tell everyone what I’ll be doing this year. After I got started, most of the nervousness went away and I ended up more or less satisfied with how things went.
That evening I had been invited to a sweat lodge, a traditional ceremony that would purify me before I leave on my journey. I was excited and a little apprehensive, not knowing exactly what I was in for. I drove to John Dubray’s house and from there he took me down the road to the sweat lodge. A large fire burned outside with rocks in the middle glowing so orange it was hard to tell them apart from the coals. After waiting for them to get good and hot , I entered the sweat lodge with at least ten others. The bright orange glowing stones were placed in the center, medicine was sprinkled on them, prayers were said, and then the water was poured. The steam was hotter than I had imagined, and the air difficult to breathe. I found myself holding my towel over my face, yet the others managed to sing loudly, seemingly unaffected by heat. Though it was difficult to endure by the fourth round of water and rocks, it was a very enriching experience. It was important to see it all the way through, as I will undoubtedly have to see my walk all the way through, no matter how difficult times get. During the ceremony, they had said prayers for me to give me strength for the journey. After that night especially, I began to feel much more comfortable being on the reservation. Any preconceived notions I may have had of Pine Ridge and the Lakota people had literally perspired right out of me.
Thursday March 17th, 2011
Yesterday I was thinking about meeting Merle Locke, a Lakota artist, but the day got so busy that we decided to meet today. I drove down by the town of Pine Ridge and he directed me over the phone to his house. He greeted me, welcomed me inside, and right away began talking about his art. Merle paints on century-old ledger paper, which was used by Indians on the reservations when they had nothing else to paint on. He was very good and the walls of his house were filled with his work. After getting acquainted, we drove to the Red Cloud Heritage Center and he gave me a tour of the art gallery there. I had a great time looking at all the paintings and beadwork, some of which was quite old. Having Merle there to explain the history and meaning behind the art was a special treat – it would not have been the same if I had just gone there by myself. He was a real easy-going guy, who I had no trouble relating to. He said he has always stuck to his own path in life rather than simply following the crowd, which reminded me of my own personal reasons for going on this walk.
Friday March 18th, 2011
Around 9:00am, Billy Jumping Eagle stopped by the Singing Horse, where I was staying. Billy is a school bus driver and had just finished his morning route. Off the job, he runs a “safe house” for kids. Basically it’s his and his wife’s own house which they open up to any kids who need a home away from home, be it temporary or permanent. Through One Spirit, they will be building a second house in addition to their own, so they can house even more kids.
Later on I went over to check out the safe house, which was quite close to where I was staying actually. When I arrived, there were some teenagers extracting an engine from a large van, and younger kids running around inside and outside the house. Billy invited me in and I distributed some of my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies to the kids, who enjoyed them immensely. It was a bustling and busy place, but eventually I found some time to tell everyone what I would be doing this year and all the kids seemed pretty interested. After answering their questions, some began joking around, telling each other they should go with me. The atmosphere was laid back and I didn’t feel like a stranger. After watching some “Wheel of Fortune” with Billy, I decided to head out. It was a good visit though – Billy and his wife Donna (who unfortunately I was unable to meet) do a great thing and it’s obvious they love kids and help them all a great deal.
Saturday March 19th, 2011
Today was my last here on the reservation, but I still managed to unexpectedly meet one more person – a man named Buck, who has been building a new trailer for Rosie at the Singing Horse so she can accommodate more guests. Buck (not Lakota, I think he was from Oklahoma) was down-to-earth and had a good sense of humor. He said he had been an alcoholic, but had been free of it for many years. He told me, “Alcohol doesn’t see colors”, referring to the fact that drugs don’t discriminate and anyone of any race can fall victim. Buck was excited to hear about what I was doing, and compared my walk to the sweat lodge – if I can see it through to the end I will be much stronger for it and it will renew me. I couldn’t agree more. Buck seemed to have a great deal of wisdom from his experiences. He told about how he used to hitchhike and walk long distances by himself, sleep under bridges, and live a hard life. He joined Rosie and me for a big breakfast (which Rosie made for us) and I enjoyed his company a great deal.
All in all, I got exactly what I wanted out of this experience, which is pretty simple really: to understand what I am walking for – not to tell everyone a bunch of statistics about the sub-standard conditions at Pine Ridge, which they could read in a book, but to tell them from my experiences here what kind of help the Lakota really want, especially for their youth. I look forward to walking through the reservation in June, and hopefully visiting many of these people again. Thanks Rosie for giving me such a nice place to stay for my visit, and John for inviting me to the inipi, and Alex, Richard and Linda, Merle, Billy and Donna, and Buck for helping me to better understand the Lakota people’s way of life.

More Updates will follow.

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I got to thinking in the past few days – I know, a dangerous thing for me to do – about how so many of the things I’ve been writing about recently are more like marathon events than sprints.

A marathon is a 26 mile 385 yard (42.195 km) race.  The best runners can do it in a little over 2 hours; average runners may take 4 to 5 hours.  I would probably take 2 – months, that is.  Unless I had a coronary event before that.

Sprints are short, quick races – 60 m (indoors), 100 m, 200 m, never more than 500 m.  The elite runners for the 100 m, for example, can complete the race in about 10 seconds – a brief flash in the pan.  I, on the other hand, would be left in their dust, gaping at the speed while unmoved myself.

In my life, there have been many more marathon events than sprints.  Not actual races, of course, but life events that play out over a longer time rather than events that are done in that flash.

As I noted, marathon events seem to be really predominating lately.

The first would be the commitment I have made to follow and write about Dan Ross, the young musician who is walking from Illinois to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon.  That will be a marathon times 100 – yes, he’s actually going to be walking approximately 2600 miles in his journey.  That journey is sure to bring self-discovery in addition to his goals of drawing attention to the conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and raising funds for the non-profit ONE Spirit who work to improve the lives of those who live on the reservation.

Another marathon will be the clean-up following the flooding on Pine Ridge Reservation.  I know, some will read this today and wonder “What flooding?”  If they did not see my original posting or many Tweets, they surely will not have seen it in the national news media.  That’s because the national news media hardly ever notices what happens in the middle of this country.  When the problem is in the poorest county in the country, it is not going to attract national media attention unless it involves violence.

The marathon that will result from the flooding is not just the drying up of creeks and homes.  It is the rebuilding of lives by people who have very few resources with which to do it.  There will be no insurance to cover the damages.  Homes will be patched as best they can be.  Waterlogged contents which, in insured suburban homes would have been collected and disposed of, will be dried out to see if they can still be used.  There is no money to replace them.  That is not a good thing in a place where many homes already have problems with black mold.  Wet furniture, clothing and bedding will be terrific breeders of mold as the weather improves.  There may be pollutants and toxins in the water that flooded the homes.  They will remain when the water evaporates.  Some things will simply be gone with the water.  It will take a long, long time for most to recover.  Talk about a marathon!

Relationships are marathons, if they last.  Whether it is the relationship of spouse, lover, friend, sibling – they all take work and they don’t survive without a commitment to being an active participant in the life of the other persons.  Gratefully I have a good number of these marathons going already and some new relationships that I hope will develop into marathons.  There is nothing wrong with a sprint, of course.  The acquaintance who is a joy for a time, then moves out of your life has merit.  But it is the marathon relationships which, while certainly entailing work, bring the greatest joy and benefit.

I have been running a health marathon for over 45 years, coping with fibromyalgia.  While some have claimed their fibromyalgia was cured, I do not personally believe that to be true.  I believe they did not truly have fibromyalgia in the first place.  Otherwise, more of us would be taking advantage of that cure.  Instead, most with fibromyalgia run the same marathon that I am running – to make the best life they can with the fewest number of flare-ups.  It is challenging, but so are most marathons.

My final marathon is my personal crusade to bring awareness of the living conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation to a nation that is uninformed and poorly educated.  The people in this country have come to depend on a small number of commercial news outlets to tell them what is happening in their world, their nation and their lives.  If it isn’t on television, they don’t know about it.

Mind you, I am not passing judgment here.  I was no different at one time.  But I do have a couple of assets – a healthy curiosity and desire for life-long learning.  When I learned about the reservation by first sponsoring a child there, then doing research and finally traveling there, I vowed that I would not let the beautiful, proud, generous Lakota people go unnoticed any longer.  As I have taught myself about technology and social media, I have moved further and further along the path of this marathon.  I am no expert at either the technology or social media outlets.

But I am passionate about this journey.  I believe that, if the people of this nation knew about the conditions and loss of hope that have become the norm in these sovereign first nation communities, they would do something.  They would demand change!  I believe this because I have seen it happen with other disasters, both here and abroad.  Americans do not care who is in need; they respond from their hearts and wallets.

It should be an embarrassment to this nation that we allow Third World conditions to exist in the center of our nation.  I am committed to the marathon that will bring this to light and help bring about change.  It can be exhausting as any marathon is.  But it is, for me, the most important marathon in my life.

 

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Today I received an email from the folks at ONE Spirit (http://nativeprogress.org) about a young musician who will be walking across the country – yes, I said walking – to raise awareness of the conditions on Pine Ridge Reservation and to raise funds for ONE Spirit’s work there.  You know how dear to my heart the Lakota people of Pine Ridge Reservation are.  So you shouldn’t be surprised that I have offered to provide information about this event and write periodic updates on Dan’s progress as part of my blog.

Dan Ross is a young Illinois-based musician who can be found on YouTube.com under the guise of “goofyguitarist.”  More information on the Dan and the walk can be found at ONE Spirit’s website:

http://nativeprogress.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=201:spring-awareness-walk-for-pine-ridge-youth&catid=34&Itemid=153
Dan has a Facebook page going to garner support for the walk (from Rockford, IL to the Pacific Ocean in Florence, OR!).  The link is:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_125643704165866&notif_t=group_activity

This is the description of the Facebook group that he gives:

“In 2011, Dan Ross (that’s me) will walk from his hometown of Rockford, IL all the way to the Pacific coast in Oregon. For 5-6 months I will walk every day, rain or shine until I reach the ocean. Why? Well…I watched Forrest Gump recently and…..err….I mean I like to walk, and…I like the the ocean too, so i figured ….uuum… I guess right now I don’t quite know why I’m doing it, however I do know that once I’ve done it I’ll surely know why I did it….. Anyway, I’ll also be bringing publicity to a non-profit organization called “One Spirit”. This organization brings aid to the impoverished Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The reservation contains in it, the poorest county in the United States. Living conditions on the reservation are unacceptable by most American standards, and the children growing up there have little opportunity. As I traverse the land on my epic trek, I plan to encourage people across the country to donate to One Spirit in an effort to help them raise enough money to build and maintain a youth center on the reservation, which will provide new opportunities for the children and teens on the reservation. TOWNS I WILL WALK THROUGH/BY: ILLINOIS- Freeport, Elizabeth, Galena, East Dubuque. IOWA- Dubuque, Colesburg, Edgewood, Strawberry Point, Oelwein, Readlyn, Waverly, Shell Rock, Allison, Dumont, Hampton, Clarion, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Storm Lake, Alta, Aurelia, Cherokee, Marcus, Remsen, Le Mars. SOUTH DAKOTA- Vermillion, Yankton, Tyndall, Wagner, Pickstown, Bonesteel, Gregory, Winner, Mission, Martin, Pine Ridge, Oelrichs, Hot Springs, Custer. WYOMING- Newcastle, Moorcroft, Gillette, Buffalo, Ten Sleep, Greybull, Cody, Yellowstone National Park, IDAHO- Tendoy, Challis, Clayton, Stanley, Lowman, Banks, Horseshoe Bend, Emmett. OREGON- Vale, Brogan, Unity, John Day, Mitchell, Prineville, Redmond, Sisters, Springfield, Eugene, Veneta, Walton, Florence, OCEAN!!!!!!!! “

 

I recently read the interview Dan gave investorideas.com and would like to share a couple of his responses with you.

Question: Can you tell us what motivated and inspired you to take on such a challenging endeavor?

Dan’s response: Honestly, I was watching “Forrest Gump” one night during the fall of 2010 when I was first struck with the idea to walk across 2/3 of the country. For those of you who are unfortunate enough not to have seen the movie (because it’s a good one!), the main character spontaneously decides to run across the entire country, and it is certainly an inspiring moment in the film. Before that night, I had already planned on moving out of my hometown in 2011, in an effort to broaden my horizons and gain a new clarity of mind so that I might discover what I’d like to pursue in life; I just wasn’t sure exactly where I would go or how I’d get there. So I would say that I was primed, ready, and waiting for a good idea to come along. All I needed was a spark of inspiration.  What motivates me to take on such a challenging endeavor is the fact that it IS a challenge. I enjoy pushing myself, if for no other reason than to test my own potential. Also, I believe traveling is one of the wisest things a person can do with their time and money – it allows you to learn things which cannot be taught. The possibilities of what I can learn from this journey are more than enough to motivate me to do it.

Question: You have chosen the youth of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the building of the Safe House and youth center as your non-profit to dedicate this to. A white youth from Illinois dedicating his walk to the native youth at Pine Ridge is an unexpected storyline; can you tell us how that came to be?

Dan’s response: Once I was certain that I would walk to the ocean in 2011, I began to think that maybe someone besides myself could benefit from this whole thing. After quite a bit of brainstorming, I was still unable to decide what cause I would walk for. Then, amidst the planning of my route, I noticed I would be walking right through the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, a place which I knew nothing about at the time. So I did a little research, and the information I found was startling and overwhelming unemployment estimated at 87%, life expectancy of about 50 years, 90% living below the federal poverty level, and teenage suicide rates 3 1/2 times the national average. I couldn’t believe that this place was located practically right in the middle of the United States. The fact that I was unaware of the situation at Pine Ridge makes me think that most others living in this country are unaware, as well. From this point on, I was sure that I had found a just cause.  After notifying One Spirit that I would like to help, we decided I should dedicate the walk primarily to the youth on the reservation. If you provide the younger generation with a safer childhood, and more opportunities to learn and grow, it becomes likely that they will want to take action to help the next generation in the same way. If all a child knows growing up is poverty, it’s easier to turn to drugs and/or gangs as a way out. I want to help show them something better.

 

Can you imagine doing what this young man is doing for people you don’t know?

Okay, if you’ve read any of my earlier blog entries, you’ll know I, personally, can’t imagine walking any farther than absolutely necessary, except on a treadmill – and that is an act of will.

I could get all spiritual on you (pun, get it?) and quote Christian scripture:  “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die.” Rom 5:7  All right, don’t moan, I can hear it from here.  I know Dan is not planning to die.  But you get my point.  This is a really big thing for a person to do for someone else.  It shows a generous heart.  I am impressed and inspired.  I hope everyone who reads my blog will support Dan in this walk – if only by sending him good wishes or checking out his music.

I think it will be very interesting to follow this trek and see what Dan learns about himself as he tries to educate the nation about Pine Ridge Reservation and ONE Spirit.

This is a copy of the information I received today about Dan’s initial plans for his walk.  If you are on his route and can support his effort in any of the ways noted, you should contact ONE Spirit directly (if you send offers to me, it will only delay things).

If you aren’t on the route, you can still support the effort by forwarding a link to this blog entry or the ONE Spirit website or Dan’s Facebook page to friends and acquaintances.  The more who know about this effort, the better.

As we gear up for Dan Ross’s walk from Rockford, IL to the Oregon Coast to raise awareness for the youth of Pine Ridge, we are again relying on the help of our generous One Spirit supporters.

We are planning out the Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota legs of the walk and need the help of local supporters to provide a place for Dan to stay, help arrange for media coverage, and facilitate awareness gatherings if at all possible.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box on ideas for this. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Even if you have a contact or a lead that you would like to share with us so that we can follow-up, we are grateful for your help.

Below is a list of dates and times Dan will be passing through Illinois and South Dakota. If you are able to assist in any capacity with these stops, please contact One Spirit. If you know of a friend or relative in that area who might be interested, please forward on this email.

Chicago area volunteers are needed for publicity and awareness campaigns. If you know of a media outlet that will be able to spread the word, or if you are able to set up a benefit concert or donation drive, please contact One Spirit.

IOWA STOPS
4/20/11 – Dubuque
4/24/11 – Oelwin (we have a grateful volunteer who is willing to cover this stop
4/26/11 – Wavery
4/28/11 – Hampton (we have another volunteer who is taking care of this stop)
5/11/11 – Humboldt
5/5/11 – Storm Lake (we have a volunteer taking care of this area)
5/8/11 – Le Mars

SOUTH DAKOTA STOPS
5/10/11 – Vermillion
5/12/11 – Yankton
5/16/11 – Wagner
5/21/11 – Winner
5/28/11 – Martin (We have accommodations arranged for this area)
6/7/11 – Hot Springs
6/9/11 – Custer

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