I hope that this Thursday finds you well. I am wonderful as I have just been out for a scone with my dad…the first time we have for quite a few months so it was nice to have a catch up with him!
And now for something a little different…
Today I am going to tell you about a new shelter that is opening up on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. And hopefully you will be able to help them by spreading the word and donating if you can.
As a British citizen living in England I must admit I had never heard of Pine Ridge until January this year. I first found about it when I googled the word Lakota and a website called Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation popped up. I only googled it because it felt like every book I was reading at the time had this word in it somewhere…even a spaceship called The Lakota in one of them!
As I read through this website I was shocked at the living conditions of the Oglala Lakota tribe that lived there and looking at what was needed, they are the most basic, bare essentials you could think of. Like food, clothes, toiletries, school supplies…
Sadly, this isn’t just on Pine Ridge Reservation. Many Native American Indian reservations are under similar strains.
I don’t know a lot about Native American history, so I can’t really give you a history lesson here. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee is a good book to read if you want more information. And, just as an aside, what really struck me from reading this book, is not just the fact that the treaties were broken, that there were countless atrocities committed and how much the Indians lost, but how many times Indians of all different tribes would keep bringing the offer of peace back to the table. Peaceful resolution of conflicts. Peaceful enacting of treaties. Peaceful requests to be heard at the White House and in other political places. Very inspirational. But I digress.
But Pine Ridge Reservation is an Indian reservation with about 40, 000 people living it. It is mostly plains, I believe, with extreme weather, especially in winter. Not much of it is suitable for agriculture. There are few industries in the region which provide employment prospects for the residents. Some of the poorest counties in the country are in South Dakota.
The more I read, the more fascinated I become.
I have seen lots of different statistics regarding this place, but here are just a few of them…
- Unemployment is high. I have seen some sources say it is as high as 80%.
- And the average YEARLY wage for some of those is just $4000.
- The high school drop-out rate is approx. 60 – 70%.
- The diabetes rate is higher than average at, as is the infant mortality rate and the foetal alcohol syndrome rate.
- The child/ teen suicide rate is 4 X higher than the US national average. And the adult suicide rate is higher too.
- There is an acute housing shortage and what houses there are, often have many problems like Black Mould (which is toxic), outhouses, no running water or sewer systems, and no electricity. Many people live in trailers (like static caravans in England) but with temperatures dropping as low as -12degrees Celsius in winter, and no money to spend patching up the holes in the walls or the roof, or to buy proper insulation, families often struggle. I have read reports of people freezing to death in their own homes because they cannot afford to heat it.
- Many households will have lots of people living under the same roof. The Oglala Lakota are a very generous and family-orientated people and will often welcome extended members of their family into their home (sometimes as many as 22 people in a 3 room house). But with so many people to look after, many families often run out of food before the end of the month or will have the difficult decision of whether to feed their family or heat their home in winter.
- Alcohol has been forbidden on the reservation for a long time, yet alcoholism is still a massive problem. There is a town in Nebraska called White Clay, which has only 12 registered residents. The 4 shops which sell alcohol there, mainly to the people on the reservation, sell over 4.9 million cans of beer a year. That is over 13,000 cans a day.
- Pine Ridge Reservation is also a ‘food desert’, which means families have to travel many miles to get to a shopping mall or even a grocery store. Which naturally costs a ton in petrol (gas). Fresh produce is scarce.
- I think, for me, the most shocking statistic is the life expectancy. Numbers vary, but roughly they are 47 for a man and 52 for a woman. I have never seen a figure over 55. And this is in America. The USA. In the western hemisphere only Haiti has a lower rate.
Since you have so many people living under one roof, some of whom may have a drinking problem, most likely out of work, then that is when you start to get problems like sexual assault and child abuse.
I am building up such a dire account here! It’s not all doom and gloom, there are a whole range of wonderful charitable organisations working on the rez.
Have a long look through www.friendsofpineridgereservation.org
If you sew, knit or crochet have a look at www.sewforkids.wordpress.com and if you have a WordPress blog, like me, follow them.
BUT TODAY I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE SACRED SHAWL SOCIETY.
You can find out more information about them on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sacred-Shawl-Society/881667535205875
Or here: http://www.wildhorsebutte.org/#!sacred-shawl-society/c1hui
They are opening up a women’ shelter, hopefully in October this year, for women and children who need help because they have been victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault. This means that they can stay on the reservation, which is beneficial as it prevents them being isolated from their culture and lessens the risk of any further trauma through being sent away into the unknown.
The Sacred Shawl Society has done a wonderful job so far finding a suitable building, refurbishing it, resourcing desperately needed essentials such as bedding, non-perishable food, books and toys for the children etc. Many of the women and children will come in with only the clothes on their backs.
They just need a little help with funding the staff to work there. Unsurprisingly there isn’t much funding available and so they have created a crowdfunding page on Go Fund Me which you can find here:
If you do ONE THING today, please share this link. On Twitter, on Facebook, Instagram…whatever social media platform you are on. And donate to this worthy cause if you can. It doesn’t matter how little or how much (and for us people in the UK, the exchange rate from £ to $ is pretty good right now…£10 = $15 approx).
If you can send any other donations (I mean things, not money) then please have a look at this post from sew for kids which has an extensive list of what they need.
P.S. I’m loving the idea of knitting/ crocheting pretty shawls for the mums so that they can have something nice that’s handmade especially for them and will keep them warm…ideas, ideas…
P.P.S. I tagged this post with knitting and crochet because I thought if there were any crafty people who wanted to make something to send…just a thought
P.P.P.S. There are many differing sources of information on the internet. If I have made any mistakes in anything written here, then they’re all mine and I apologise!