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Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ 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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One of the best things we got to see on this visit to the reservation was the return of the Crazy Horse Ride participants on Thursday, June 9.  In the center of the Pine Ridge settlement, people started lining the streets, staking out prime viewing spots early.  The riders would come up Rte 407 from White Clay, NE and turn left onto BIA Road 32 at the center of Pine Ridge, ending at the Powwow Grounds.

The riders return to Pine Ridge, SD

Since we were going to the concert at Billy Mills Hall shortly after the riders passed, we found a parking space at the hall, right along the riders’ route.  It was quite convenient, since it was also directly across from Big Bat’s, the convenience store/snack bar/gas station that is today’s version of a trading post.  There are rest rooms, too, always a plus!

The riders approached in the distance from the top of a hill with an escort of police cruisers with their lights turned on.  It was a beautifully clear, sunny day.  The colors of the massed flags and flashing lights were truly a sight to behold!  We recorded the event and you can actually view it for yourself by using the link at the end of this post.

So what was the big deal, anyway?  Was this just a parade?  Why did all these folks ride horses from Ft Robinson, NE to Pine Ridge, SD on an extremely long, 4 day trail ride?

The annual Crazy Horse Ride, now in its 14th year, is a 4-day trail ride held the second week in June to honor all veterans and the war leader, Crazy Horse.  This year the ride ran from Jun 6 to Jun 9.  Approximately 200 riders participate each year according to organizer Charles “Bamm” Brewer.  Although the group is primarily made up of Oglala Lakota riders, all are welcome.  Many young Lakota take part in the event, which gives them an opportunity to learn and understand their culture and heritage in a more concrete way.  It is a pilgrimage of sorts and has a definite spiritual aspect.

A father carries his disabled son during the 2011 Crazy Horse Ride

This year’s ride had special meaning for the riders.  On the first morning of the ride, the governor of Nebraska and other dignitaries gathered with the riders to dedicate the section of US 20 from Ft Robinson to Hay Springs as “Crazy Horse Memorial Highway.”

The ride forms in Ft Robinson, NE each year since that is the location of the death of Crazy Horse on September 5, 1877 as he was being taken into custody by government troops.  Day 1 of the ride proceeds from Ft Robinson to Chadron, NE where the riders camp for the night.  On Day 2, the riders proceed from Chadron to camp in the Beaver Valley.  This is a particularly meaningful stop, since this area was the land of Crazy Horse and tradition holds that his parents brought him here to be buried after his death.  Day 3 is a rest day in that special place, with many activities planned for the riders.  On Day 4 the riders complete their journey, traveling from Beaver Valley into Pine Ridge for the All Veterans Gathering and Powwow at the Pine Ridge Powwow Grounds.

The 2011 ride included Spiritual Leader Wilmer Mesteth, Crazy Horse Ride Elder Mel Lone Hill and the drum  group Creekside.  A riderless Spirit Horse for Crazy Horse was included and can be seen in the video and photos.

A riderless Spirit Horse for Crazy Horse was included in the 2011 Crazy Horse Ride.

 

 

 

Here is the link to the video:  http://youtu.be/Pody6Yn9-mk

 

 

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

 

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“Why Pine Ridge?” is a question I am frequently asked.  I have been pondering the answer to that question since Christmas time, especially, because it was posed to me by Dana, a woman from the Pine Ridge Reservation to whom I write while she is incarcerated in federal prison in Minnesota.

She replied to  my Christmas note.  She was looking forward to watching the “My Passion is Pine Ridge” video ( http://youtu.be/t8UYGSBl4yU?a ) that I had recently posted on YouTube.  She wrote that she looked forward to it “although [she] would like to know why?  Why such the passion?  So many people love where [she’s] from but all moving home did for [her] was get [her] in trouble.”

I have been musing and pondering over those questions for several months now.  I really owe her a response.  But for me to say that my love for the Lakota people who live on Pine Ridge Reservation is due to their culture, their strength and their needs sounds so cerebral.  My passion and crusade to inform the nation about the living conditions on the rez come from a different place than my head.

My passion stems from my heart and soul.  My heart feels a loving connection with each person I meet from the reservation – even the ones who try to “pull a bit of wool over my eyes.”  I understand a bit of human nature.  My soul feels torn apart when I see the beautiful, kind, gentle people – especially the elders and children, those sacred ones – living in conditions that many people in the country would not expect their animals to live in.

I feel it is a “sin” (in the generic sense of that word, not a particular religion’s interpretation) to a group of people in the United States to live in conditions that no one else would tolerate.  These are conditions that are like those in the Third World – in Haiti or Burundi.  Life expectancies on Pine Ridge are similar to those places as well.  It is wrong that, if Pine Ridge residents lived a hundred miles away, their live expectancies would increase by 30 years – just by being born and living a couple of hours away.  Those are the things that give me my passion and drive.  The unfairness.  The losses.  The hardships.  The national news media doesn’t tell you thinks like that – not ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or FOX.  So I do it.

Those are some of the things that make me keep plugging away even on those days (or weeks) that I get discouraged.  I am so impressed by those on Pine Ridge Reservation who make it.  Or who work to give the elders and youth hope for the future.  My work allows me to help one at a time.  That is a good thing.  But the numbers who still need help are overwhelming.  I do it for all the strong Lakota women I have met who inspire me to never quit using my own talents and abilities until I have achieved my goal.  These are women who live in the direst of conditions yet they still laugh and give to others.  They are my inspirations.  I guess that is, in the end, why I am driven by such passion to promote the welfare of the people of Pine Ridge Reservation.

I read another letter addressed to Facebook friends and written by a young Lakota mother and musician.  I think she would be pleased that, even though she is a professional musician and that is her occupation, I introduced her as a mother first.  She is devoted to her family above all things except Tunaksila (God).  She was raised off rez and has come back to help her people.  She has a plan and goals, which you can read about in my prior post about the youth project for native music.  She has given me permission to share her letter with you here.

Its hard to be Lakota but its worth it. Sharing my thoughts.

by Davidica Littlespottedhorse on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 6:54am

Its easy to say,”Fix it. Take a stand. Make some noise.” but its harder to actually do it. Im one of the strong people on the rez whos not afraid to stand against injustice or speak the truth, but I know why most of my people wont speak up.

When you live in a place where corruption is the norm, you dont have much faith in the power of justice. I still believe, I have faith and Im proud of my Lakota people for enduring the living conditions here on my rez. Because through it all we kept what was more important than material things. We have our culture, our spirituality, our history, and our knowledge of our ancestors. These are things that are lost to most tribes so I know how blessed we are.

Most people in the outside world dont understand the life we lead and get frustrated wondering why it is the way it is. Yes we are treated badly but the majority of us are busy surviving. We dont have the time to be ambitious we are too busy trying to get food on the table, keep warm, or keep our electricity on. I dont know of any other town that 90% of the population can live off of $3000 a year, yes a year. Any other town would be in total chaos. People would be stuggling, have no homes, and fighting for what little resources there are. Oh wait that is what we do, but we are not in TOTAL chaos for all that the media and everyone else plays up.

For all our struggles, still we are strong. We are compassionate. We are generous. We are welcoming. When a family member needs help we all help them. When we are hurting our families come together to pray with us. We are proud of our ancestors who kept us from being wiped out. Our youth is talented. Our elders teach us.

And, if you look past the negativity out in front, you’ll see the beauty in the ones who are quiet and strong. The ones who just live their lives being good to those around them. Like my grandpa who takes his guitar to sing at funerals and doesnt ask for money. Or my cousin down the street who fixes peoples cars for free. Or my aunt who runs a small business and still sponsors lil league teams. Or the boys at the basketball game who all came outside to help push some guy they didnt even know out of the snow. Or the teenage girls that would come over and ask to take my girls for a walk so I could mop my house. Or when my baby died, all my relatives that I didnt even know very well who helped me with everything from cooking to burying my daughter. Then a year later they all came together again to pray with me even though I hadnt seen most of them all year.

When bad things happen or times are hard its easy to complain and get mad, but the true Lakota way is to look forward and gather courage to make things better in a good way.

I was upset yesterday but I lit some sage, took a deep breath, and said a prayer. Then I remembered my moms words,”Its hard to be Lakota. You have to forgive when no one else will. You have help everyone, even your enemies. You have to pray for yourself to let go of anger. Once you do this you will learn from your experiences and then you can help your people.” I stand humbled and strengthened by my experience because now I have a new direction to help my people.

Pilamiya Tunaksila for direction.

So, why do I have such passion for Pine Ridge?  It is, of course, my sense of what is right and what is wrong.

But it is the women about whom I frequently write.  It is because of Dana, a talented women who succumbed to temptation in her desire to support her family.  It is because of Davidica, a talented women whose strength and spirituality has helped her resist the temptations of the reservation.  It is Michelle, who has endured more than any mother should have to endure with her daughters (rape, illness, death).  It is Emma who takes in foster children when she has ten children of her own to care for.  It is Nadine who single-parents her children and grandson, takes college courses, maintains her culture through her crafts and hopes to show other rez women that it is possible to succeed. There are too many others to single out each one.

How could I possibly not have this passion after the inspiration of so many!?

I hope you are inspired to spread the word about the poverty and hopelessness that too many have on Pine Ridge.  Just tell people you know, if that is what you are most comfortable doing.  Send them to the YouTube videos so they can see for themselves.

Pretty soon I won’t be a single match trying to shed light on these lives, but we will have a huge bonfire of caring and love to catch the country’s eyes.

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This story does not come because of someone I’ve met personally.  But I recently read his story in a ONE Spirit newsletter and felt I wanted to share it with you.  I love this story because it shows the strength that the human spirit can have, it shows that anyone can inspire us to be better and it shows the value of native culture.

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This story is about an 11 year old boy named Cody who was born of mixed heritage – African, European and First Nation Iroquois.  His mother and grandmother have raised him in his Native American tradition.

Cody could not sit or crawl at 1 year old.  He was carried by his mother or grandmother.

As he grew older, he would walk on his knees, holding the hands of his mother and grandmother.

At age 5, Cody was able to use a walker and could enter the dance circle without assistance.

Last year, Cody decided to put aside his walker.  He falls often, but always rises the assistance of a warrior Uncle who dances with him in the circle.  There is a saying, whose author escapes me at the moment, which says that failure is not when we fall in life but when we do not get up again.  I think Cody is a great success already at 11 years old because he seems to understand that concept.  He is already a warrior in his heart.

As evidence of his warrior spirit, Cody has been moved to give what he can for others.  He dances for those who cannot dance.

When he heard about the teen suicide, poverty and lack of heard in Pine Ridge, he realized that he was fortunate — he had food, warmth, love.  He was determined to help somehow.

Cody began to sell his poems for donations that would go to ONE Spirit.  I want to share one of those poems with you.  It’s beauty reflects a wisdom far beyond this young man’s 11 years.

I AM
by Cody

I am the sacred circle
I see the fire in the center
I hear drumming
I say, “I love Pow Wow’s,”
to my MeMe (grandmother)
I imagine myself in the men’s dance competition
I hope I can do the competition
I discovered I’m Iroquois
I fear I will get killed on my Reservation
by white people
I feel the Iroquois power
I am the Iroquois child
I am the Iroquois chief in the future
I heard my people say, “Be kind.”
I saw myself on the Reservation in my dreams
I feel the sacred circle is helping me to be kind
I lost my Great Uncle when I was very young
I taught my people how to be kind to other tribes in my dreams
I was not so kind in the past
I will be kind
I will be nice
I will be a better person

Thank-you for reading this poem. Hope you pass it on.
God bless you
Cody

 

A warrior is a warrior because of his heart, not his strength.

Cody is a warrior.

Are you?

 

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I love a lot of music.  Music feeds my soul.  It has helped me through the hard times and it has helped me rejoice.  It has soothed my meditations and absorbed my anger like a sponge.

I’m not called eclecticwoman for nothing.  My musical tastes vary significantly, as my YouTube channel will attest.  But there is quite a bit of Native Music.

Now I am going to guess that you really don’t understand what I mean by that.  I’d bet that many are thinking of Pow Wow songs, chants, drums and flutes.  You wouldn’t be 100% wrong if you thought that, but you wouldn’t be 100% correct either.  Contemporary Native musicians produce all types of music — rock, country, blues, soul, Gospel, Christian, rap, hip hop, etc, etc …

Contemporary Native artists should not be placed in one box because, just as we are all individuals, so are they.

I “met” a young woman who is a rock artist this past week via internet and phone.  She is also a resident of Oglala, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  She performs professionally and has been on a tour with 3 other female Native artists who perform different genres of music.  It is the “Women of the Four Winds” tour – they have a website on MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/womenofthefourwinds).

The young woman I met is named Davidica.  She is a traditional Lakota, a mother raising 5 children and a woman driven by the need and desire to give back to her community and her people.  In conjunction with friends in the recording industry, a major project is being planned to introduce talented youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation to the recording industry.

The project is called Teca Oyate Oic’ihi Owicakeyapi in Lakota.  The meaning in English:  Helping Youth Help Themselves.  I will, in the interest of space, refer to it simply as “the project.”  But it is a project grounded in Lakota traditions and culture.  It is a project centered on empowering Lakota youth.

I want to share the details of the project with you.  These musicians and their friends have some brilliant ideas.  They are going to need support — financial and otherwise — from the rest of us.  ONE Spirit, the organization I work with as a sponsorship coordinator, will be one of their supporters.  I hope you will be, too.  This is an exciting project!!

Mission Statement

“We are committed to empowering our Native Youth by sharing our knowledge of the music business and by 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 Natives together from all corners of Turtle Island to show that Wolakota has no borders.”

How do they intend to fulfill that mission?

There will be a reservation wide talent search on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Following the auditions, 30 artists who have no prior solo demo CD’s will be selected to participate in one of 3 weeklong workshops.  The workshops, for both selected artists and any other residents of the reservation who wish to attend, will be led by Native mentors from all aspects of the music business, including songwriting, stage presence, marketing, promotions and the importance of staying true to the traditional teachings to stand strong against the negative aspects of the music business.  Each young artist will record one original song for a 2-disc compilation CD which will be promoted using the professional musicians radio and media contacts.  In addition, each young artist will record a raw demo for personal use courtesy of KILI radio.  That demo will be sent to a professional producer to work on.  The young artist will receive a Promo Packet via Discmakers which will include 1000 CD’s of their song, cover art, download cards, posters, a concert banner, contacts for copyrighting  and contacts with outlets such a Itunes.  At the end of each weeklong workshop, a musicians showcase concert will be produced in conjunction with KILI radio, which will air the concert live.  To promote the project and to enable the planners to carry this program to other reservations in the future, a film crew will be on site to document the week and film the live performances.  That is an ambitious project.

How on earth will they accomplish all that?

Good question folks!  They will do it in stages and with great organization.  They have incredible energy and enthusiasm for the project, which they consider part of their spiritual responsibility.

First, the talent search:

From March 1 to March 31, 2011, organizers will travel to the youth for auditions.  The will travel to the young artists because, as you may know from reading my entries, distances between places on the rez are huge and many people do not have reliable transportation.  They do not want the lack of transportation to prevent a young person from reaching out to achieve a dream. They will also use the schools and reservation organizations to meet with young artists.

I should probably note here that the definition of youth being used by the organizers may be different from the one you have in mind.  I know that was true for me.  They will be allowing anyone 30 years old or younger to enter the talent search.  They do this because in traditional Lakota culture, one is considered a youth until he or she is 30 years old.  (After reflection, I think maybe the Lakota had it right all along — most 18 year olds, while legally considered adults, are not ready to live life on their own.)

They will be looking for additional talent as well among the youth.  Each of the 30 young artists chosen will be teamed up with 3 other youths.  The other members of the team will be learning a) how to run a website for the musician, b) aspects of music management and c) how to market and promote a musician.  The reason for a team of 4 is that 4 is considered a sacred number.

When the search is over:

30 young musicians will be chosen from among all those who have auditioned to move into the workshop and production portions of the project.

Each young person will go to KILI radio, where a portable recording studio will have been set up, to record their raw demo.  They will participate in the workshops for one week, being fed and housed while there.  It is my understanding that the college center in Porcupine has offered space and that the Diabetes program has offered some assistance with the food and cooking.

At the end of the workshop phase, a concert will be held to showcase all the talent.  That concert will be broadcast live over KILI radio, the Voice of the Lakota Nation.

Finally, production and promotion:

Following the workshops and concerts, each young artist will have a produced version of their original song and the materials to begin distributing their music and promoting themselves as artists.  They will have a team to continue to work with right on the reservation. 

The compilation CD’s, featuring a song from each of the 30 artists, will be marketed by the project organizers. 

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

Expenses first:

  • Gas money – Having traveled 950 miles on the reservation in 5 days, I can attest to the distances between settlements and other places.  In addition to the significant cost of gas for team members in the search phase, there will be the cost to transport the musicians to the recording studio and workshop.  The estimate for the month of March was originally $1440, but I think that will be low since gas prices have been rising with the  unrest in the Middle East.  With the additional cost of transport to recording and workshop, I would think $2000 would be helpful.
  • Recording expenses – The cost for each musician to record 2 songs at KILI radio will be $50 per artist.  That is a total of $1500.
  • Working Band Bundle (promo packet via Discmakers) – This is a major expense at $1500 per artist.  However, that $1500 is an investment in the future of a young Native musician and his team.  The total here is $45,000.
  • Food – Food for workshop attendees and professionals will be needed and this is a difficult amount to estimate.  The final total of participants will not be known for some time.

Based on both known costs and estimates, it would appear that this project will need about $50,000 to cover the expenses.

Donations: One Spirit has agreed to help the organizers raise the funds they need for this project.  In direct emailings and via their website, they will promote the project.  Donations, clearly marked as given to the Teca Oyate Oic’ihi Owicakeyapi project can be sent to ONE Spirit via PayPal or by USPS at:  ONE Spirit, PO Box 3209, Rapid City, SD 57709.  ONE Spirit is a 501(c)(3) organization.  More information can be found on their website:  http://nativeprogress.org .

PROFITS

There will be a two-pronged dispersion of the profits made on the compilation CD.  50% of the proceeds will go to the artists who participated in the project.  It will be theirs to use as they wish.

The remaining 50% will be used to construct a Youth Shelter in each district.  The organizers envision these shelters as a 24 hour open door home for youth to access any time.  They will provide basic necessities such as food, sleeping quarters, activities, mentoring, tutors and teachings from traditional culture.

The organizers hope that the success they pray for and believe in on Pine Ridge will enable them to repeat the project on the Keeseekoowenin Reservation in Manitoba, Canada.  That is a long-range goal.

I am extremely excited about the Teca Oyate Oic’ihi Owicakeyapi project.  I hope you will consider supporting the project in some way.

  • Send a donation
  • Send a media contact
  • Tell everyone you interact with
  • Send a donation – oh wait, I said that already …

This project brings Native youth together to work as a team.  It teaches them how to do something with their talent.  It gives pride and hope to young people who have been showing clearly that their hope for their future is fading.  It is organized, run by and filled with role models, Native adults who have “made it” without selling out to stereotypes of Native musicians.

I will be honest with you, as I always am.

I have not been this excited about a project on Pine Ridge Reservation since I have been involved with the people there.

There are SO many reasons that I hope and pray for the success of this program, but the biggest   . . .   HOPE.

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I am going to make a confession that may amaze some of my readers.  Others may not be as amazed, since I try to avoid politics, especially with regard to the people of Pine Ridge Reservation.  It isn’t that I don’t see that politics — federal, state, tribal and familial — play an enormous part in causing the conditions that exist on the reservation.  The fact is that the cause of the conditions means less to me than does finding ways to assist the people who must live in the third world conditions that are the way of life for far too many.

So I usually write about the people with whom I speak and the stories they tell about their lives.

But I do know some of the history.  I recognize the names that have been in the news.  I make no judgments about history.

I can judge truth and beauty, however.  I recently came across a poem that touched me on many levels.  It spoke to me on the universal level of human to human.  It also spoke of lover to lover.  I will not attempt to analyze or dissect it — I do not want to break its fragile beauty.

Instead I will share it with you.  You may be surprised, as I was, to see the author when you finish your reading.  I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

 

We are Not Separate

We are not separate beings, you and I
We are different strands of the same being
You are me and I am you
and we are they and they are us

This is how we’re meant to be,
each of us one
each of us all

You reach out across the void of Otherness to me
and you touch your own soul!

Tate Wikuwa (given name of Leonard Peltier)

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They had a record-breaking snowstorm in Washington DC and the middle Atlantic states this past weekend.  I was in Tampa enjoying 60 degrees – cool by their standards but great compared to the 20’s in Massachusetts, which is home.  I didn’t watch much TV or read much news while I was away.  I did catch the word that I knew would become the newest catch phrase.  Snowpocalypse. After hearing that word, I knew we were in for mind-numbing stories of  Washingtonians woes.  So I ignored the news from then on.

When we got home though, I thought it prudent to see if anything was going on in the world of any significance to my life and our national interests.  So Monday night I watched the news again.  It was so sad.  The people in DC were still digging out from under an average of 2-2.5 feet of snow.  Plows were getting stuck in the snow on the roads.  There were people who had no power after 3 days.  I felt bad for them.  But the media kept going on and on about it.  Not just one story!  Several.  You’d think they had never seen a lot of snow before.  I know the amount was unusual but snowpocalypse?!!  Please!!!

The next story took us to the West Coast, where there were still threats of mud slides due to excessive rain.  Again, very sad for the folks involved.  But no one forced people to build in areas that are endangered by wildfires and mud slides.

I wondered what had happened in the middle of the country.  Was there any bad weather anywhere else?  Were there other people living in difficult conditions?  Of course, I knew the answer to the question because I read local newspapers for that area online.  I have friends who live in that area.  It brought to mind again a question that never is far away from me.  “Why does the national news media ignore the center of this country?” I have a secondary question that often raises my ire.  “Why does the national news media ignore the disasters that occur on the reservations in South Dakota, where Americans live in third world conditions?”

I had just received 4 more families on the Pine Ridge Reservation who were looking for sponsors to help them; asking for clothes, household necessities (cleaning products, toilet paper), shoes, food, blankets and heating assistance.  I knew of the emergency on the Cheyenne River Reservation caused by an ice storm – people without power and water for weeks.  I had spoken with the grandmother on Pine Ridge whose family had been housebound from December 24 to December 29 due to a blizzard that had created 8-10 foot drifts of snow across roads and driveways, burying cars and half-burying homes.  I knew that the homes on the reservations are substandard – few are insulated, many have drafts that blow through; people have no money for repairs or improvements.  If you’ve read any of my other posts about reservation life, you have an idea.  Why is it so few people know about the conditions there?  It’s because the national news media ignores them.

I was so angry I decided to email a comment to the ABC World News Tonight team to “express my sympathy for the poor folks in DC.”  That was when I saw it!!!  ABC News will be starting a new feature about things that Americans are “fed up” with.  I am certainly fed up with the way the national news media ignores the reservations in South Dakota.

You don’t need me to tell you that I jumped right in and wrote a long, detailed account of what I’ve told you here for almost 2 years.  If you’ve read any of my posts over the 2 years, you know I do not overlook an opportunity put in my path.

I will keep looking for opportunities and try to make some where none appear.  As I told ABC, it amazes me that the people of the US will respond to any emergency they hear about, anywhere in the world.  People in this country send money to aid those in many third world nations.  More interesting to me, however, is that people in other “developed” nations are sending money and aid to people living in third world nations right here in the USA!  That’s right!  I have recently given rez families sponsors from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan and Poland!!!  But I have not had half that number from the US.  Why not?  Because most don’t know or don’t believe that conditions can be that bad in this country.  Those who have been to reservations in South Dakota know differently.

I will continue to work (that’s volunteer work) for the all-volunteer non-profit organization One Spirit (nativeprogress.org) that tries to help children and elders on Pine Ridge.  I will continue to write to try to bring an awareness to this problem.

The reasons I do this are complex.  I love the Lakota people – in general and the specific people I have met.  I have dear friends who live in unimaginable conditions in this country.  I think it is a SIN that people live in those conditions in a country that has given so much to so many others. We must take care of the people who gave the most to this country.  They “gave” their homes and their lifestyles to our greed and our belief that we were superior and knew God’s will.  Surely we have enough gratitude to give something back.

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