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Archive for the ‘Propane’ 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.

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It has been a very quiet few days and I actually had begun to get a bit lazy.  I should know better.  It’s always quietest before all chaos occurs.

The day started unusually – I overslept.  But at that point I wasn’t worried because I didn’t have much to do.  Got up and fed the cat first – patience is NOT one of his virtues!  Turned on the computer to check my mail and the obituaries, then decided it was time for a later than usual shower.

In the middle of the shower, I heard the phone ring and someone left a message.  Little did I know it was the start of a much busier day than I expected when I awoke.

I got the message after I dressed.  It was my Lakota friends calling.  They needed me to call back.  So I did . . . and the line was busy.  Sigh.  I checked my ONE Spirit mail – nothing new.  I really should reply to the one email sitting there.  But I should try calling my friends again first.  Busy still.  I tried calling another friend – a local one – left a voice mail message.  Back to calling the rez.  Finally, a ringing phone!

I spoke to my friend’s husband.  He was very excited at having been to Bismark, ND to represent Oglala Lakota College, which he attends, as a member of the archery team at the Tribal Colleges National Conference (http://www.uttc.edu/news/story/040111_01.asp).  OLC placed third in archery.  There were many other competitions (results can be seen here: http://aihec.sittingbull.edu/AIHEC%202011%20Forms/AIHEC%202011%20Winners.pdf) and he was gone for 5 days.

Unfortunately he returned to find that he and his wife were again homeless.  They had been living in a trailer that belonged to my friend’s mother.  Sadly, on the rez, when you live in the home of a family member, you are at the mercy of his or her moods and whims.  The relationship between my friend and her mother has never been a smooth one.  This kind of thing had happened before.  So they borrowed a truck, packed their things and moved back to his mother’s house (which ironically is where they were living when we first met them).

Even more irony comes when you learn the reason that they were told to move out of the trailer.  My friend’s are some of the more responsible people who I have known on the reservation.  They try to spend their money carefully and pay their bills.  However, many of my friend’s relatives do not.  Since her husband is a full-time college student and she cannot find work, their income is very limited.  As they pay their bills, they watch my friend’s mother support others in the family who do not pay their bills.  So they decided for one month to do the same.

My friend’s mother started telling people immediately that they didn’t pay their bills and told them to leave the trailer she was renting to them – or she would call the police to remove them.  My friend, alone without her husband, was broken-hearted.  Her mother had done it to her again.  You can imagine the scene when her husband arrived back home.

They were calling me to get help with buying some propane for his mother, where they would now live for a while.  I checked my funds and called the gas company to get a delivery.  Then I made out a check to pay for the gas and got it ready to mail.  The company didn’t take credit cards over the phone.  But they will deliver the gas before the check arrives.

I had just finished that when I got a call from the woman (I’ll call her Jane but that is not her real name) I wrote about yesterday, the one with whom I was dreading to speak.  If you didn’t read yesterday’s post (shame on you), Jane had just delivered a baby 2 weeks ago and now was in the process of being evicted for not paying her rent.  You can see why that would not be a conversation to look forward to.

I explained to Jane that ONE Spirit did not pay for rent or utilities.  We talked for quite some time and I got a lot of new information.  She needs to pay $91 by the end of the month or she will be evicted.  $91 is her monthly rent for the one bedroom apartment she shares with her children.  She had been on the waiting list for tribal housing but when she got to the top, she was taken off because she owed back rent.  The total amount the rent is in arrears is $370.50.

I asked her about her resources.  She receives food stamps in the amount of about $400 per month, WIC for the children and TANF (tribal assistance for those with children which requires the parent to work for the tribe) in the amount of $300.  She recently bought a car with her tax refund money so she can return to work.  It was a good thing she did – she drove herself to the hospital when she delivered her baby 2 weeks ago.  She does not receive child support from the father of either child.

She has a 2 year old son and a 2 week old daughter.  Since she worked until her due date, she will be paid TANF for the month of April.  She says she can get paid for 2 months additional without working, but must then return to work or the tribe will discontinue the assistance.  She wants to go back to work as a flagger for road construction crews but would need to use the tribal day care if she did.  She is not sure she would make enough to cover the day care for 2 children and still have money left over to pay the bills.

As we talked, I had an idea for a source of assistance – someone I know that might be able to help.  I will be seeing that person tonight and see what I can do.  I made her no promises, except that I would continue to pray for a solution.

Later I called a new sponsor and discussed her interests and the sponsorship program.  I could feel that I was different today when I talked about sponsoring.  Maybe it was because I knew that there are some things even sponsors can’t fix or solve.  I called a mother on the rez to let her know I had a sponsor for her daughter.  I’ll get the paperwork out on that in the morning.

In the meantime, I put Jane on the OKINI list (the program for donors who do not want to develop a relationship with the person being helped) for personal care products like shampoo and toothpaste.  Perhaps getting a few things that aren’t covered by food stamps will allow her to shift some of her money to the rent portion of her budget.

I was going to write about the articles I saw today that spoke of cell phone vs landline use in South Dakota and the price of gas in the Rapid City area hitting $4/gallon.  Those are two things that impact the lives of people on the reservation – they have to travel so many miles just to get from one part of the rez to another and they are coming to depend on cell phones in spite of the fact that South Dakota overall uses landlines more than cell phones.  But those phone calls took my attention away from the “smaller” problems and turned it to the really big ones.

So the theme of my day turned into homelessness and potential homelessness.  It is one of the hardest things on the reservation for so many people who do not have homes of their own and must rely on relatives to give them a roof over their heads.  The official statistics of homelessness on the reservation do not reflect the true number of truly homeless people.  I think many of the other problems on the rez stem in good part from overcrowding in the homes of those who are lucky enough to have their own home (the other big source of the problems is the lack of available jobs).

This is one BIG problem that I cannot solve.  All I can do is try to help a couple of people stay afloat until someone else finds that solution.

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I’ve written about the cold on Pine Ridge Reservation before.  But I just saw a posting on Facebook by KILI Radio and I am really concerned about those who have no heat the next few nights.

This is what the posting said:

Get prepared relatives TONIGHT! Lows 17 below to 23 below zero. North winds 15 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 30 percent. Wind chill readings 42 below to 52 below zero.

This is DANGEROUS cold!!

I have written before about substandard housing with no insulation, holes in homes, no source of heat, no building codes.

I have written before about having met and purchased art from a man who later froze to death.

I am concerned that that kind of thing may happen in the next few days because there are so many I hear from with no heat – no propane, no wood.  There are others who have heat that is inadequate in this kind of cold – people who try to use electric space heaters to heat rooms and homes.  These are dangerous when overheated by overuse or when placed too close to clothing or bedding.

I am worried that I will hear about tragedies in the coming days.

I can only pray that people will donate to ONE Spirit to help with the emergency fuel program.

ONE Spirit ( http://nativeprogress.org ) accepts donations through PayPal.

In the meantime, I need to prepare for up to another 18 inches of snow here, 2000 miles away from the children and elders who will be shivering tonight on Pine Ridge Reservation.  At least I know I will have heat.

 

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This is the 10-day forecast for Pine Ridge, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation thanks to Intellicast.com .
10 Day Forecast –  °F | °C
tue wed thu fri sat sun mon tue wed thu
jan
11
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
-10°
jan
12
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
22°
17°
jan
13
Cloudy
Cloudy
39°
21°
jan
14
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
39°
19°
jan
15
Snow Showers
Snw Shwrs
27°
15°
jan
16
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
28°
jan
17
M Cloudy
M Cloudy
20°
13°
jan
18
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
29°
14°
jan
19
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
39°
18°
jan
20
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
34°
21°

Details for Tuesday, January 11
Partly cloudy. Very cold. Wind chills approaching -15F. High 6F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph.
Evening: Bitterly cold. A few clouds. Low around -10F. Winds light and variable.

Intellicast.com: The Authority in Expert Weather

**********

Now I know you are wondering why in the world I gave you the weather forecast for Pine Ridge.  Most of you don’t live there.  I want to use it to illustrate a couple of points.

I have had quite a number of calls from folks on Pine Ridge in the past week wondering if we had funds available to help with propane (which is used to heat many homes on the reservation).  These calls are from mothers, grandmothers and aunts who have small children in the house.  They have NO HEAT or they are trying to heat uninsulated, drafty houses with a couple of electric space heaters.

I don’t know if you can imagine the kind of cold that comes to South Dakota at times like this.  It is the kind of cold that can cause people to freeze to death.  It is 6 degrees, perhaps, but with the wind that is a near constant factor in South Dakota, it feels like 12 degrees below zero.

Imagine that you are a child with very little warm clothing.  You are probably wearing several layers of whatever you do have.  When you go to bed, you may huddle up with siblings to share the body heat.  Your mother gives you as many blankets as she can find in the house, which may not be enough.  You may not have a bed and your mattress or pallet may be on the floor.  You feel the cold seep up from beneath you.  Your mom puts one of the electric heaters in your room but you still feel the cold air drafts from the old windows.  You go to sleep cold and you wake up cold.  You look forward to going to school where at least it will be a little bit warm.

Today, school is delayed a couple of hours because it is too cold to wait for the bus at the usual time.  At school you feel warmer for a while.  But the heating system at the school is old and it can’t keep up with the cold outside.  They decide they will send you home because they can’t keep you warm.  But you know you will be cold at home too.

You wonder about your friend.  When you got to school, you heard that his family’s trailer had burned up during the night.  You heard someone say that some blankets caught on fire because they were too close to a heater.  The fire department did not get there in time and the winds made the fire burn fast.  You hope your friend is safe and not hurt, but no one seems to know.  You wonder where they will stay now.  Finding a home on the rez is not easy.

When you get home, it is still cold.  You can’t wait for spring.  You try to watch TV but the cold is very distracting.  Your little sister curls up next to you and you try to keep her warm too.  You are sitting under the blankets as you watch but they don’t help very much.

You know the whole thing will be repeated until your mom can get some money to buy propane.  You don’t know when that will be but she seems very worried.

You don’t know, as a child, that your mom is not only worried about heat but also food.  There is no money for that, either, and she is worried that she will not be able to feed you in the next day or two.  She is trying to find help for heat and food.  She can’t pay the phone or electric bills if she is to save for heat and food.  They aren’t supposed to shut off the electricity in the winter but they do sometimes.

If you are sitting in your warm home reading this, I hope you still feel warm.  But if you have a warm heart, you may be feeling the chill of that child.  I hope you do feel it.  If you do, then perhaps you will follow your warm heart and do something to help the children of Pine Ridge Reservation, where 90% live under the federal poverty level.

Speaking you cold, how would you like to travel 400 miles in that kind of cold in a car with no heater?  You wouldn’t like it?  Me either.

If you are a regular reader, you may recall a post about a baby who needs to get to Omaha, NE for heart surgery and her grandmother’s car was broken down.  We got a donation, but not enough for car repairs.  Grandma found another car to borrow to get them to Omaha, but the heater in the car gave out.  So they had a choice – drive to Omaha in the car with no heater (not a good idea with an 8 month old baby who needs heart surgery) or reschedule the surgery (not always easy to get another date soon and waiting is not a very good option).  Would you want to have to make that choice?  Me either.

But that’s rez life.  Hard times, hard choices for those who have no job, inadequate income to cover the needs and have young ones or elders for whom to provide care.

 

 

 

 

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I got a weather report from the Rapid City Journal earlier and have been trying to figure out which cliché I wanted to use to describe the cold there.  But I couldn’t think of anything cold enough to be fitting, so I’ve decided to let you fill in the blank after you read the post.

These are the facts:  the temperature is zero degrees F, the wind is blowing at 32 mph with gusts to 38 mph and it is snowing lightly.  The “feels like” temperature is -27 degrees F.  That’s right – minus 27.

That’s very likely the temperature measured at the Rapid City Airport, as many places use the airport to measure official weather statistics.  But let’s travel an hour and a half south, to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Now we’re on the prairie and in the badlands.  The wind has fewer obstructions and is really howling.

How cold does it feel here?  Let’s factor in a few other pieces of information.  Most housing on the reservation is of substandard construction.  There are many wood frame houses and trailer homes.  Most are not insulated.  In fact, many have holes and drafts.  Homes here are heated in several ways – propane furnaces, wood stoves and electric space heaters.  With the coldness of winter there, the propane does not last very long.  Those who heat with wood may run out, especially in bad weather.  There are those who have resorted to burning whatever will burn in the stove to stay warm – clothing, books, furniture.  Electric space heaters are extremely costly – not to purchase but to run.  They need to be on continuously.  The electric bills by the end of heating season often end up too high to be paid, so the electricity is shut off.  The electric company is not supposed to shut off the power in the winter, but it has happened. Trying to heat with wood or electric has also resulted in some catastrophic, wind-driven fires that destroy homes before the fire department can arrive.

I am not going to debate the causes of these circumstances here and I refuse to make this a political discussion as well.  It is, to me, a moral issue.  No one in this country should have to burn their clothing or books to stay warm.  No child should have to be under piles of blankets or clothing to stay warm while he or she tries to sleep.

I am going to make an exception to my rule, though.  It’s my blog and I can do that if I want to.  I will do it because of another article I read in the Rapid City Journal this morning.  The article by Mary Garrigan of the Journal staff was actually posted Thursday, Dec 10, 2010 and is entitled “Energy assistance payments vary.”

In a place like Pine Ridge, where unemployment is 80%-90% and 90 % live under the federal poverty level, you can be sure that energy assistance is a winter lifeline – literally.  People have frozen to death there, including one man I had personally met.

So what did the article have to say about energy assistance?  The first thing I found interesting is that there is a different amount available to people depending on whether they qualify for aid through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) of the State of South Dakota or must rely on the LIHEAP of their tribal government.

LIHEAP helps income-eligible families pay for heating and insulating their homes in winter and cooling them in summer.  It is a federally funded program which begins in October.  South Dakota’s allotment last year totaled more than $29.3 million; the amount of that set aside for Native American tribes in the state was $5.2 million based on a federal formula that uses 1990 Census data to determine the amounts.

Tribes have the option of administering their own LIHEAP programs and in South Dakota 7 of the 9 tribes have opted to do so.  There is an agreement between the state of South Dakota and the tribes that the federally calculated amounts (2.3% of the total) will be doubled (to 4.6%) because it is commonly agreed upon that the Census undercounted tribal residents.

So, we have the 7 tribes, including the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Pine Ridge Reservation, receiving 4.6% of the total funding.  In a state with such a significant Native American population, this seems insufficient – but that is just my non-scientific opinion.

What kind of amounts of money are we talking about, anyway?  Does it really matter?

The article tells of a resident of the nearby Cheyenne River Reservation.  He is enrolled with his tribe; his wife is not a tribal member.  Therefore their household is able to qualify for the state-run LIHEAP funds.  If both were tribal members, they would have to qualify for the tribal LIHEAP instead.  How much of a difference can it make?

This year, this couple expects to receive about $1661 in aid.  His cousins, brothers and other relatives will receive about $400 on the same reservation.  $1661 vs $400!  If you don’t belong to the tribe, you can get 300% more!

The amount available to residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation was expected to be $300 for the winter.  I don’t know why it is less.  I do know that is how much people have been receiving.  They have told me that when I’ve spoken to them.

The people I have spoken to have also told me that the money has already run out and that people have been turned away because of that! How can that be?

The Journal article notes that South Dakota’s LIHEAP awards vary according to primary heating source and geographic region.  The poorest families could expect approximately $427 per year for coal and wood, $1245 for natural gas, up to $1096 for electricity, up to $2082 for propane and $2333 for fuel oil.

I have no information on how these programs are administered.  I do not know where the money goes or why tribal members receive less.

I DO KNOW THAT $300 OR $400 IS NOT ENOUGH TO HEAT A GOOD HOUSE IN SOUTH DAKOTA, LET ALONE A HOME LIKE MANY OF THOSE ON THE RESERVATIONS!!!

I also know that, while the politicians (state, federal and tribal) are bickering about the responsibilities and trying to assess blame, I will be talking to people who are COLD and are asking for help to keep themselves and their children warm.

It really ticks me off!!

You can read the original article at http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/article_8056e9b4-13c2-11e0-b813-001cc4c002e0.html

In the meantime, don’t forget to fill in the blank – either as a comment here or in a Twitter reply to the link.

Colder than … ______________________

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My answer to that question is equivocal.  If I wasn’t doing the tasks I do, perhaps.  If I didn’t travel, maybe.  But the phone has become a safety net of sorts for me.  I want to have one available in case of emergencies.  I’m not personally someone who wants to chat with people all day, especially about things that I tend to view as trivial (fashion, recipes, celebrities).  But I do want to be able to call the fire department if the fire in the frying pan gets out of control when I burn dinner.

However, with the work I do, I am on the phone a lot – and most of it is not local.  I am often talking to people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota as well as sponsors in every state you can imagine.  I even get to chat with co-workers in England and Norway!  So the phone is important.

But, I asked myself today, is it more important than heat or food?  You may think that an odd question, but I ran into an obstacle today that is directly related to the question.

I actually have been blessed to have several sponsors waiting to be matched at the same time.  In order to do that, I speak to the sponsor, then call several families on the rez to see which one I think will be a better match for the sponsor.  Today, I called several people to try to do just that.  Every call was met with one of these responses:

“We’re sorry but 605-555-5555 has been disconnected.  Please check the number and try your call again.”

“The number you have called is not a working number.  Please check the number and try your call again.”

“The (company name) customer is not available.  Please try your call later.”

I called the social service office in the area that I work in and left the names of people I need to reach.   Someone will get back to me with the new numbers – soon I hope.  I really need to get those sponsors connected.  I thought the families I tried to call would be excellent matches.  If I don’t get updated phone numbers, I may have to go back to the drawing board.

So why suddenly am I having so much trouble reaching people on the reservation?

Actually, it isn’t unusual to have phone numbers changed from time to time, when the bill can’t be paid.  But this was certainly a higher frequency than usual.  Why was that?

The answer actually occurred to me when I was speaking with my contact at the office on the reservation.  We were talking about the weather.  She said it was starting to get really cold on the rez and they had just that week opened their fuel assistance program.

And it hit me!!

Cold weather = increased use of propane and/or electricity for heat = more money spent on fuel costs

BUT

80% unemployment + government assistance = very little money.

Also,

Very little money – grocery bills – money for heat/electricity – phone bill = a deficit budget.

Now the government can exist on a deficit budget because they can print money.  (The drawbacks of that will be left for others to worry about.)  If you and I try to print money, however, the government gets downright cranky about it!  So, what are we to do?

We have to make decisions based on our priorities.

What is more important?

Food?  We may get food stamps but they expect us to feed each person on about $1 per meal.  Anyone with half a brain (government officials excluded) knows that’s impossible.  I might let myself go hungry (losing weight wouldn’t be a bad idea) but I refuse to let my children to hungry.  So I will spend what I need to for the food basics.

Electricity?  We might be able to do that in the summertime but not in the winter.  The bill gets too high, it’s true.  But what can be done about that?  It gets dark about 4:25 PM now and in 4:42 PM in mid-January.  How will the children do their homework in the dark?  There isn’t much for kids to do here in the winter.  How will I entertain them on the weekend without the DVD player?  How will I use the electric heaters we need to supplement the propane so we don’t run out.  If I don’t have propane, we’ll freeze.

Propane?  We’d probably let the electric go first!  Propane is heat.  Propane is also for cooking meals.  It’s cold enough in here, even with the heat on.  There’s no insulation in the walls and there are a lot of drafts.  No storm windows – unless you count the plastic over the window.  The mattresses are on the floor and it gets really cold down there.  We don’t have enough blankets for the kids and I refuse to let them freeze.

Phone?  It’s good to be able to talk to friends and share troubles.  But I guess I could live without that.  I might need to call the fire department.  Wait, why bother?  The house will burn down by the time they get here anyway!  Ambulance, maybe?  I could have one of the kids run to a neighbor for that.

Well, I guess that answers my question, doesn’t it?

If you live on Pine Ridge Reservation, the phone comes in at the bottom of the list.

So I guess while our kids all have their own cell phones and some folks have more than one, it is a country of inequality when it comes to phones.  Some people in this country don’t have phones because they think basic existence is more important than chatting about which celebrity is in rehab.

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