Benjamin Hotchkiss-American inventor changes the course of how battles are won. Wounded Knee December 29, 1890.
The Hotchkiss Cannon manned by Federal Troops, extinguished hope for the Lakota people at Wounded Knee. They didn’t have a chance. Referred to as a battle, it was truly a massacre. As a result, any effort by the Lakota people to protect themselves was futile. From this point on, efforts to preserve their culture was held silently within the hearts of the remaining few Lakota.
The truth is hard to accept.
Welcome to the Rosebud Reservation. This reservation and surrounding communities, has often been referred to as being Third World conditions. Unemployment rates are up to 85% depending on community, with an overall unemployment rate of approximately 49% throughout all First Nations. The reservation is in Todd County, the second poorest county in the nation. Life expectancy is 48 years old, diabetes, drug and alcohol addiction are rampant. These are all the direct result of hardship, struggle and poverty.
When nothing is pulling you up, it’s easy to fall down.
Imagine if you will, living in a community where almost 40% of the population have no electricity. They can not afford it. Imagine a community where infant mortality rates are the highest on the continent. A community where the dropout rate from school is 70%. If that is not dire enough, imagine living in a life that life expectancy is between the age of 46-48. Where diabetes is rampant and many families suffer from food insecurity, where they depend on their children being fed at school and elsewhere, because at home there is no food. Then imagine, sharing that home with many others and living and dealing with all of what that brings when everyone in the home is fighting the same battle.
Drugs and alcohol have a playground like no other on the reservations. Many turn to relief through these trustworthy numbing methods because it works. It makes the knowledge that this is your life a little easier to bear. They also host the highest teen pregancy rate in the country. In 2007, there were 19 successful suicides, many of them children. When there is nothing pulling you up, it is easy to fall down. That is a brief glimpse into just a few facts about life on the reservation. One you can not feel because you have to live it know it. The Lakota people live it and ultimately clearly understand what this life does to a human being and future generations.
What we are doing to help.
It is a fact that for a community to heal, they first need to come together. Through our efforts and working directly with the Rosebud Tribe, we are endeavoring to build a Community Center in the town of Rosebud. Working with the community leaders, planning, developing and implementation of a building that will meet physical, mental and spiritual components of the people, we are actively establishing a plan that will help this and future generations.
A multi-functional sports and community complex that can change lives.
This will include basketball court, racquetball courts, swimming pool, gym and offices combined with community gathering space. This is a much needed project which will allow the communities to utilize the space for rehabilitation and positive outlets that will strengthen both youth and adult populations.
We intend to create additional space for offices that will serve as a hub for tribal needs and allow alternative educational programs to have a home base from which to function. We are helping in creating a revolving educational crew to include diabetes and nutritional education and workshops, cooking classes, youth mentoring, drug and alcohol guidance and after school tutoring.
By joining us and helping to create an avenue for strengthening this community, you are helping heal our nation.
By acknowledging the truth about First Nations circumstances, change can begin to happen. We can not become or remain a strong nation if we neglect to see the truths that surround us. By choosing to be part of the change, helping to strengthen our indigenous people back to a place of strength, you are truly helping to resolve the past.
What we take for granted, many will never know.
As we go about our lives, some of the standard conveniences you experience on a daily basis are things that do not exist to many. Do you go to a gym? Do you get to a grocery store within 10 minutes? Do you participate in summer activities as a family? There are many families on the Rosebud Reservation, that will not be able to have those experiences. This needs to change, we need to care. Fresh fruit and vegetables should not be a forbidden treasure, it should be readily available. Families need avenues to come together as a family in healthy, meaningful activities. There are many who have never been off the reservation as the financial resources are not there. There is no excess on the reservations.
Our work in Rosebud, is to interrupt the negative impacts of greed that was thrust upon First Nations cultures and communities. We believe if greed and the negative impacts suffered as a result get interrupted, it will then be possible to redirect, creating a climate for opportunity and empowerment
Why We Need To Care
Aaron Huey, after 5 years of work, created this TED talk which he granted us permission to share. We hope you will listen and then ask yourselves what this means to humanity. In this compelling work from Aaron, it is clear what the needs are for South Dakota Reservations. Both Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservation are home to these issues. Thank you Aaron for sharing this with us and for your devotion in life to make a difference.