Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Giving Back’ Category

I have been pretty “quiet” lately thanks to the work volume all of the wonderful folks who have been stepping up to become sponsors for children and elders on Pine Ridge Reservation since the 20/20 episode aired.  I literally have not had time to write.

That is about to change!

This evening I called an elder to give her a sponsor for the 5 year old granddaughter she cares for.  The longer we spoke, the more I knew I had to share this story.  I’m sharing it because I am so far past angry I can’t keep this to myself.  It is difficult to type when all you can see is red, but I will give it my best effort.

[scrape … scrape … scrape … sorry, the soapbox makes a bit of noise]

I asked Grandmother how her granddaughter, who is in first grade, was doing.  She told me that the girl was happy but having some difficulty in school.  She was told the child may be dyslexic.  That will mean a struggle for her.

I told her I had a sponsor for the girl and she was very happy with the news.  We continued to talk as I confirmed the address information.  It was then that I began to steam.

This little girl’s family had moved away and left Grandmother with a trailer to live in with the girl.  If you could hear me, I would tell you to close your eyes and picture it as I describe it.  Instead I will try to paint you the picture with my words on this page.

The trailer is in a group of trailers.  It is very old.  Grandmother worries that the roof will come off in the wind that comes with storms – and in South Dakota that is often.  It seems that the wind is always blowing on Pine Ridge Rez.

The trailer has no running water or sewer connection.  They were using a nearby outdoor faucet for water, carting several jugs a day.  Some of the neighboring men “rigged” up the sewer pipe so they could use the toilet, flushing by pouring some of the water they had carried into the tank of the toilet.  HOWEVER . . . there was some kind of water line break in the area and the tribal water department had to shut off the water.  Yes, the outdoor faucet that they were using to obtain water is now dry!  The tribe has not made the repair that would allow the faucet to be turned back on.  Now they have to go to someone else’s home to obtain the water they need and carry it home.

Following the dotted line . . . or broken water line, let’s see the additional results of the lack of water and sewer connections. 

The most striking consequence is that Grandmother cannot get a propane tank without the water and sewer connected.  Is that important?  It depends on your perspective, I guess.  Do you think eating is important?  Do you think it’s important to have heat in the South Dakota winters?  Personally I think they are both things none of us would want to go without.  So how does Grandmother cook?  She uses a hot plate or electric skillet.  How does she keep herself and her young granddaughter warm in the poorly insulated trailer?  She uses several small electric space heaters.  The pair sleep in the living room.  Grandmother has hung a blanket in the hall doorway to keep as much of the heat as possible in their small living area.

Picture two old-fashioned thermometers, the kind with the bulb of mercury on the bottom.  One of the thermometers is measuring the temperature outside the trailer.  The second thermometer is measuring the electric bill.  As the mercury in the first thermometer drops (actually plummets at night) during the winter, the second thermometer’s mercury is exploding through the top of the stem like a volcanic eruption!  By spring, the electric bill will be too high to pay – causing the electric to be cut off and a $250 reconnect fee to be added to the next bill.  This is what will happen this winter as Grandmother tries to feed and warm herself and her granddaughter.

Are you beginning to get upset yet?  No?!  Okay then, it’s time for the clincher.

Do you remember that flimsy roof I referred to above?  That roof has another serious problem – it leaks badly!  When it rains, the water comes in through the light fixtures.  It comes down the walls.  Grandmother’s mattress in the bedroom can’t be used – it’s wet.  Even if they had running water, the bathroom would be unusable – the flooring and carpet is wet.  Besides, after her granddaughter got a small electrical shock when turning on the bathroom light to brush her teeth, Grandmother decided it was better not to use the bathroom at all.  So all bathing and tooth brushing and laundry is done in the kitchen.

I asked Grandmother whether she had sought any assistance to get the problems resolved.  She told me that she had.  She told the folks at housing.  A man came out and made one small repair.  He never returned, in spite of her calls.  Her district representative to the tribal council has tried to help her out but he has had as much success as she has had.

[okay, breathe . . . in . . . in . . . in very slowly, then out . . . out . . . out slowly, control the breath to control the rising anger . . . again . . . okay]

 

Is this how elders of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the wise people of the Lakota, should be living?  Is this how they should be treated when they ask for help?

We ALL know the OST has no money, though why they don’t is harder to figure out.  But the fact is they have people.  They need to be training more people to do the very repairs that elders need and can no longer do for themselves.  The tribe needs to invest in their own vocational school to train plumbers, electricians, construction workers, carpenters, etc.  These trained workers could be licensed.  They could form companies and do work for an income.  They could also, in exchange for their education, give back to their communities by performing the repairs for elders for free, as a sign of the respect due to the elders.  The tribe needs to work at making it easier to do business on the reservation — especially for registered tribal members.

Lakota culture and values state that elders are to be respected; that women and children are sacred.  But it is only lip service that the tribe gives.  They spend more time with politics and nepotism guiding their decisions than the truth of their ancestors.

So I am left with the question of how I can help this particular Grandmother.  But I am also left with the bigger question.  There are many more grandmothers on Pine Ridge Reservation.  Many do not have the energy or ability to lobby constantly for the repairs they need.  I am trying to use the steam I am still feeling about this to brainstorm ideas on what would help.

If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.  It doesn’t matter whether they are feasible or not at this point.  I just want to know that you think this situation is abominable and how you think it could be changed.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

I was talking to Davidica Little Spotted Horse a couple of days ago about the Independence Through Music project on Pine Ridge Reservation.  I’ve written about it a few times and won’t bore you with all the particulars this time.

The ITM project is progressing well.  The young people from the project are progressing well, too, from raw talent with little or no experience performing in front of others to knowledgeable musicians.  It will indeed be interesting to see the finished product when they eventually produce and promote their CD.

This week ITM was doing workshops on management, booking agents, and the like.  It’s one part of the project I like very much.  It’s fine to provide musicians with the opportunity to perform and to learn how to record.  But if they are not educated in the reality of being a recording artist, they will be open to being manipulated and used.  This project will help them avoid those pitfalls.  It will also train those who are interested in the recording industry but do not have the talent or interest in actually performing.  There is a need for producers, managers, agents, CD cover art designers and other related personnel.

I asked Davidica if there was anything in the way of equipment that was needed by the individuals in the project.  She told me about a laptop that was donated by an individual and a computer program that was donated by the folks at KILI radio.  She said that 2 of the guitar players were being hampered by the fact that they had to borrow guitars to practice and perform.  They could not afford their own.

So that’s where you come in.  If you have an electric guitar or know someone who has an electric guitar that is not being used and is sadly sitting in a closet communing with the dust bunnies, pass it along.  Give a young musician on Pine Ridge Reservation a chance to become a working musician and to make a living from what he or she loves.

You can arrange shipping by contacting Davidica at the contact page on her website:    http://davidica.com  You will be able to get a receipt for tax purposes if you need one.

Just think, you could be contributing to someone’s career

Read Full Post »

A lot of people wait for me to write about the sadness and poverty that I find when I visit Pine Ridge Reservation.  But the truth is, while there is plenty of both to be found, there is also plenty that is positive about Pine Ridge.

The first thing that we saw positive this visit was the land itself.  All of our prior visits have been in the fall or winter.  This is the first time we have visited in the spring.  What a difference a few months can make!  It was green!  I know, it sounds rather simple, but the difference between a green reservation and a brown, dried up reservation is amazing.

The green vista was incredibly beautiful.  It breathed hope and new life.  After seeing the reservation green and blossoming, I understand on a new level why the people who live here would not want to leave.  The beauty may not be there on that level all the time, but when you are in tune with the land and the seasons, you know it will return.

The first two people we met with were as positive and refreshing as the new life that spring brought to the reservation.  They were two inspirational women who believe there is hope for the youth of the reservation and who are doing something to put that belief into action.

I encountered Davidica Little Spotted Horse the first time because she had heard of the ONE Spirit program and wanted to know more about it.  She cares very deeply about her people, the Lakota people, and wanted to find out if we really did help people on the rez or not.  Sadly, there are organizations that say they are helping (and may on some level mean it) but who turn out to be divisive in the community.

Davidica and her mother, both of whom we met on our visit to the rez,  consider themselves “traditional Lakota.”  They hold fast and practice the Lakota traditions and values.  They pass those ways to their children.  Talent and positivity runs through the family like the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon – strong and creative.

This is the bio that I found of Davidica on Facebook after I spoke with her the first time,

I am a singer/songwriter, artist, businesswoman and mother. Currently the opening act for The Women of the Four Winds featuring Martha Redbone, Tracy Bone, Wayquay, and Davidica-www.myspace.com/dlittlespottedhorse
For Booking info fourwindstour@hotmail.com

My name is Davidica Little Spotted Horse.
I am a singer/songwriter from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. If I had to describe my lyrics in three words it would be, “heartfelt, personal, and passionate.” My songs are about love, loss, hope, and happiness, I believe these are feelings all human beings deal with. My songs are my connection to my inner self. All of the songs I wrote are about my own life and the two I co-wrote with my brother Isnal-Wica Belt are about his struggles. The song “Aaron’s Song” my brother and I wrote together is for his best friend Aaron Lakota because we wanted to give him a gift for being such an important part of our family and to voice that we understand what he’s going through.
I am a singer/songwriter first and foremost I just happen to be native, but more than anything I am a human being. So I humbly give all my songs to humanity no matter what your race because we can all relate to the human condition… life. I’ve always had a dream I would leave something behind to make my mark in history for my future descendants. My music is my gift to them. My children are my biggest supporters and the reason I recorded this album. I cherish my children, my extended family and my friends everyday.

I am also an artist. My beadwork is another way for me to share my creativity. I put my heart and soul into my work to create the best quality beadwork possible. My traditional beadwork is only Lakota style beadwork and I take tremendous pride in knowing how to make traditional pieces.
I also make contemporary beadwork which includes many different beading techniques and I make sure these are also excellent quality work.
You are welcome to purchase any of my beadwork that is put up for sale in my “Beadwork” Album in the photo section of my profile. I also accept orders for specific projects. Just message me and I’ll contact you with more details.
Much Respect.

I had wanted to meet Davidica after our first conversation.  She is thoughtful and open to everyone.  She is an incredibly giving woman.  She has nurtured those same values in her own children.

Davidica is a recording artist.  That is a remarkable thing for someone living on Pine Ridge Reservation.  But she is more than that.  She is a strong Lakota woman.  She puts those Lakota values into actions — they are not just words for her.  She treasures the children — her own and all those on the reservation.  It is Davidica who is responsible for the Independence Through Music project becoming a reality.

Independence Through Music is a project to identify talented young people on the reservation, to teach them about recording and performing, to teach them about the recording industry and to give them opportunities to become self-sufficient — not only by being performers, but also producers, managers, booking agents, web designers, art designers, etc..  This is not a “The Rez has Talent” contest where talented performers place themselves into the hands of strangers.  This is a comprehensive educational experience and an opportunity for young people to grow into careers and futures.

We were grateful that Davidica took time out of her day to meet us on a day that was a busy one for her prior to the ITM Concert the next evening.  We met at her mother’s home and except for the many calls she received regarding the details of the concert, their attention was on getting to know us.  We did not feel like we were being a distraction to their day.  We talked about the program, life on the rez, raising children and many other things.  It was a very pleasant time.

I have not written as much about Davidica’s mother yet because she was not the center of attention.  Yet I think she is very much the center of strength in the family.  Her deep spirituality and love of her people was very evident.  Some lead by the actions rather than many words.  This is the way Davidica’s mother leads.  I came away feeling it had been a privilege to meet her and wishing we had more time to chat one on one.

After leaving these two amazing women, we went to the home of another woman who strength is different.  She is not a community leader.  She is not even out of her home much.  She is not healthy yet she is raising two teenaged daughters.  She is raising them well in spite of poverty that almost crushed me when I entered her home.

I don’t say that lightly.  I have been in many poor homes before on the reservation.  But this home weighed on my heart and mind — perhaps even my soul — as none have before.  I don’t have pictures to share with you of this home because there was no way I was going to ask this woman if I could photograph her home to share with the world.  I was probably not meant to be a news photographer.

But I can try to paint it with my words.  As we drove up the dirt driveway, which was a hill, we had to avoid a large number of deep ruts that had been formed earlier in the week when the ground had been mud.  Straight ahead was a wooden building with a couple of small windows.  To our left was a single-stall garage sized building that was or had been used as a shop of some type.  A small trailer was behind the shop.

We were uncertain which building to go to when we saw someone peek out the window of the building in front of us (which I will refer to as the house).  Then a teenaged girl came out to greet us and lead us into the house.  Her mother, who was the person I had come to visit, was sitting in a rather worn recliner.

But before I introduce you to her, let me describe entering this house.  As we entered, there was the smell of animal urine — not extremely strong but definitely there.  The interior was dark.  The two small windows were partially covered by blankets to help with insulation and privacy.  We entered through the kitchen.  There was a refrigerator and cook stove.  The lack of cabinets meant that the non-perishables they had were stacked on the counter and other available spaces.  The kitchen table was a metal table that certainly was made prior to the 1950’s.  The kitchen and living room were actually one space, perhaps 10’x20′, separated only by the arrangement of furniture.  In the living room were the small recliner, an orange plastic chair and a television.  In the corner was a pile of several blankets and it made us wonder if this woman slept in the recliner.  Her daughter brought the single metal kitchen chair into the living area so we could all sit.

In the center of the space was a small wood stove.  My parents used wood to supplement their heat and this stove was probably only half the size of my parents.  The wood would have to be cut small to fit and the stove would need to be filled often.  I recalled that, the first time I had called this woman, she had told me they had a stove but no pipes to vent it.  I could see there were pipes now.  The stove was so old that I imagined it might have been in use since the 1800’s.

Off this main kitchen/living room, there was one bedroom, which had a door with a padlock on it.  It was the room her daughters shared and was padlocked when they were gone so none of their things would be stolen.  I cannot say how big the room was, but based on the size of the building, it was probably not much bigger than a queen sized mattress.  There was an indoor bathroom.

This woman was pleasant but had a difficult time talking because she was on oxygen full time.  She had been to the doctor’s just the day before for breathing issues.  She was due to have a lung scan soon.  She also had a difficult time moving around and I will have to assume that the two teenaged daughters must do much of the cooking and cleaning in that home.

We did not visit there long because it was such a physical strain on this woman to have company.  Personally, I’m not sure I could have stayed much longer because of my own reaction to the poverty that weighed down on me like a ton of bricks.

We left Oglala and drove to Pine Ridge to meet a woman who works with ONE Spirit for dinner at Subway.  Of course, there is only one road to get there and it is clogged with road construction.  You have to wait for a pilot car to follow through the construction and that wait can be 15 to 20 minutes if your timing is bad.

The meeting at Subway, however, was wonderful.  We spent much longer than expected there discussing rez life, various programs and individuals and much more.

After we ate, we returned to our room for a good night’s sleep.  It amazes me how tired you can get just driving around the reservation and talking to people.

 

Read Full Post »

I almost titled this without the word “good”.  But you’ll see in a moment why I added that adjective.

A couple of months back I wrote about a fantastic youth program on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  (Native Music! A Youth Project! published 2-24-2011: http://wp.me/p57ZB-hR ).  The project has been renamed – Independence Through Music (you can find ITM on Facebook).  Davidica Little Spotted Horse is the driving force behind this project to find, promote and educate young musicians on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  She has a new web page as well:  http://www.davidica.com/  You can find a lot of information about the project in those places.

As I read through the “wall posts” of ITM on Facebook, I ran across this one that struck me as important.  The author is a DJ at KILI radio on the rez.  The point is important. The post stated:  Deejay Spinnerz: It wud be nice , if  someone can do sum PR for them and donate sum musical instruments for them, also 🙂 Schools, music stores ,etc.

When I read that, I thought, “Why not me?”  After all, I’m always writing about the rez these days, right?!  It also occurred to me, as I read the names of the young people who have been chosen so far to participate in the program along with their specialities, it makes a certain kind of sense that there are so many rappers.  Musical instruments cost money and there are many families that cannot afford the basics, let alone buy a child an instrument.

So if you have a “good” (that means good condition, working, all the parts attached, etc) instrument that you no longer use, consider shipping it out to the program to support not only these young musicians but also others who have not even had the chance to try to learn.  Why let something as important as a musical instrument collect dust?  Why let it deteriorate?  Why not give it to someone who might discover not only talent but hope for life?  Music touches your soul to listen to – I’m not a musician but I would imagine it touches your soul even more to create it.

If you have an instrument to give to a young person, please send me an email at bblodgett@nativeprogress with your name, the type of instrument and contact information.  I will then give you the information to send the instrument.

Please — NO TOYS OR JUNK.  We’re talking recording artists, not playschool at this time.

Here is an update on the project along with their non-profit fundraising partner’s information in case you don’t have an instrument but would like to support this worthwhile endeavor.

Independence Through Music- Project Summary
We are committed to empowering our Native Youth by sharing our knowledge of the music business and providing them with resources to promote their talents with the help of our Native brothers and sisters from Canada so the Native Youth can in turn give back to their communities. Our combined efforts will help to bring Native’s together from all corners of Turtle Island to show that Wolakota has no borders.With the suicide rate on the rise among our Native Youth, we adults look for answers on how to help our youth to escape the overwhelming hopelessness and despair that is in their everyday lives.
How can we convince them that there is a future to look forward to?
After many hours and lots of prayers we have come to realize that we need to empower our youth by encouraging their natural talents by providing them with resources that we as working musicians have already acquired. We want to help them succeed by being self sufficient.
A one time donation is a helpful temporary solution that only lasts until the donation runs out. But the youth want a way to provide for their families by
doing something that brings them pride and enjoyment while being part of a higher purpose.
So following our traditional ways that teaches us to look ahead, to make a difference for our future descendants. We have decided to give the gift of knowledge and resources to our youth to help lift the despair and to show them there is hope for their future.
To help our Native Youth reach their goal of being working recording artists we are bringing in Native Mentors from all aspects of the music business. This will get them that much closer to being self sufficient. The end result of a youth shelter being built because of the efforts of our youth will make that much needed impact in our communities an even better reason for them to share their talents with the world.

Talent Search -Final list of Native youth chosen for project

Kyle Mesteth- Hip Hop Artist/ Lyricist
Tianna Spotted Thunder- R&B Singer/ Songwriter
Robert Afraid of Bear- Rapper/ Lyricist
Santee Witt- Rock Singer/ Songwriter
Corey Bettleyoun- Drummer
Savage Afterlyfe- Rap Group
Ceasar Cross Dog, Rapper/ Lyricist
Edward Two Eagle, Rapper/ Lyricist
Edwin Two Eagle, Rapper/ Lyricist
George Two Eagle, Rapper/ Lyricist
Rocky Frasier, Lyricist
Nuclear Decadence- Heavy Metal Group
Daniel Hudspeth, Singer/ Songwriter
Cody Makes Him First, Musician/ Songwriter
Marlow Rouillard- Rapper/ Lyricist
Derek Looks Twice- Rapper/ Lyricist
Eric Peltier- Conscious Rapper/ Lyricist
Sheldon King- Rapper/ Lyricist
Mike Lays Bad- Producer/ Musician

Compilation CD
The goal of the talent search is to make a two disc CD featuring 18 Native Youth from across the Pine Ridge Reservation. One song from each musician will be chosen to be on the CD which we will be promoting using our radio and media contacts.

Recording Demo CD for the artists
We are going to bring in a professional producer to record, mix., and master the demo’s for the musicians that are chosen to be on the compilation CD as well as finding sponsors for each musician to get promo starter kits for each musician for their single EP CD.

Workshops
Will be held for one week out of the month in May, June, and July in which all aspects of the music business will be covered. Native recording artists from Canada and the U.S will be instructing in songwriting, stage presence, marketing, promotions, and on the importance of to staying true to traditional teachings to keep them from being pulled into the negative aspects of the music business.

Musicians Showcase
At the end of each week long workshop we along with KILI Radio will be putting on a concert to allow each musician to perform at the radio station which will be aired live to showcase their talents.

Documentary of Our Amazing Journey
A film crew made up of the some of the most talented people in the business will be on site to film the youth’s journey through the program. The documentary will also feature the chosen musicians individually and film their live performances at KILI Radio. Documenting our journey to share with the world will be our biggest asset to help reach our goal of bringing this program to other reservations.

A Higher Purpose – Youth Shelter
The sales from the Compilation CD will be as follows –  half of the proceeds will go back to the musicians themselves and the other half will be donated to a youth shelter to be built in each district. The youth shelter will be a 24-hr open door home for the youth to access at any time and will provide basic necessities such as food, sleeping quarters, activities, mentoring, tutors, and teachings in our traditional culture.

From the success of this project we are hoping to bring this to the reservations of our brothers and sisters in Canada where their youth are having the same struggles and to other reservations in the United States. We as Lakota’s will offer our hand of friendship to all our Native brothers and sisters. Together, united we can win this fight against hopelessness for our youth. Our next goal will be to build a youth shelter on the Keeseekoowenin Reservation in Manitoba, Canada. We as Native people must unite as one force to help our youth if we really want to make positive changes for them. I know once we succeed we can take this project everywhere that its needed. This is a big project but one that will be used by our future descendants and will lead to many more opportunities for all Native Youth across Turtle Island.

All of the individuals involved in this project believe in the projects ability to bring positive changes to our reservations.
Because of this unwavering belief they have all generously agreed to donate their time to help us reach our goal.

Anyone interested in helping us in our fundraising can make donations by following this link http://elaineadairmichalakfoundation.org/ and clicking the donate button.

Much Respect,
Jean Belt -The Boss
Davidica Little Spotted Horse -Recording Artist/Mentor
Davidica Young Man, II -Youth Correspondent
Santana Young Man -Youth Correspondent
Wendell Young Man, Jr -Youth Shelter Development
Tracy Bone -Recording Artist/Mentor
J.C. Campbell -Recording Artist/Mentor
Sugar -Recording Artist/Mentor
Holly Marchuk -Photography
Dion Telesky -Director for Music Videos

Angelia Baldwin -Non-profit (Elaine Adair Michalak Foundation)
Michael Michalak -Non-profit (Elaine Adair Michalak Foundation)
Elaine Adair Michalak Foundation
PO Box 191 Pierpont, SD 57468
605-325-3392

Read Full Post »

This post is going to be fairly short and very sweet.

I got a phone call yesterday from a woman who recently began sponsoring an elder on Pine Ridge Reservation.

Typically, when I see a phone number I don’t recognize show up on my cell phone and it doesn’t have a South Dakota area code, I assume it is a sponsor calling.  Also typically, those calls from sponsors are because there is a problem or issue that has arisen.  So I usually answer those calls with a mix of curiosity and trepidation.

When the phone rang yesterday morning, I admit to those very feelings.  This call, however, was not about a problem or concern.  It wasn’t even a question on how to ship or rez etiquette.

This call was to thank me for giving this sponsor such a wonderful elder to sponsor.  A thank you call?  I think it was a first for me, after all these years.  I enjoyed the conversation very much and was left with a feeling of warmth and satisfaction when it was done.  The work that I do, I do because I believe it is so important.  I don’t expect gratitude and don’t need it to feel good about what I do.

But receiving gratitude was a true pleasure – the icing on the cake, if you will.  That reminded me of one of the beliefs I have and try to show whenever I can.  That is, specifically, that it is important to show gratitude and tell a person when they have done a good job.  I try to remember to thank everyone who does something for me, regardless of how big the task.  I think too many people recognize and tell you your flaws!  We need more people recognizing and telling you the good things.

Mind you, I don’t believe for a moment that this sponsor was really thanking me for assigning her to this elder.  I believe she was just overjoyed that she had made a connection with a lovely woman who is likely to become a good friend and she wanted to share that with someone who might understand the feelings.

And so we did share — and her joy was infectious!  After a few days of being down and wondering if what I did made any difference, I felt reinvigorated.  I knew the work was important in my head and now I felt it in my heart again.

If I called this sponsor to thank her for calling me and sharing that joy, she would be embarrassed.  So I will let this post be my thank you.  I suspect you will be a joy to the elder just as much as you were to me.

Read Full Post »

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!!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »