Archive for the ‘Women of the Four Winds’ Category

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.



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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.

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

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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. 


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 .


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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