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Archive for the ‘Warrior’ 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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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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