Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another letter . . .

We would like to share with you some of the stories we hear regularly from families. This family has been living in the basement of a house that is occupied by other family members. They have slept in cars when the basement smell became overwhelming because of sewage backup and in the summertime have camped out. In spite of the poverty, they have managed to keep up the morale of their children and they look for ways to give them a better today and tomorrow.

Here is Trina's letter:

If there is any way to get some help with my kids then I welcome it. I have tried so hard to keep my kids, KIDS. There is so much influences out there and I see young ones succumbing to them. I try so hard to give them opportunities that will be beneficial, feed them healthy food, show them how to be Lakota relatives, and use every chance to be a positive role model, in this environment which is geared to be oppressive.

Yesterday we went to my mothers in Wounded Knee and I made bread. I instructed my daughter on how the ingredients interact and what does what to make the bread taste so good. I made a lot and was anticipating some good bread for today but it went quick while we were there. I also made some cinnamon rolls. The little ones there were quite happy and content to eat some tasty hot bread and it made me appreciate the small things.

The snow from last week was just melting and it made a mess. When we got home last night the water run off filled the sewer up again and it came into the basement where the family sleeps). The smell was horrible and it burned my nose. We spent two hours trying to alleviate the situation. Dave went outside and manually drained the sewer, and I was downstairs sweeping it to the drain hole. It was pointless because the sewer filled up quickly again.

Winter showed up again. another blizzard blew in, and school was cancelled. Our food is low again.

I've seen firsthand the many ways a child can be influenced wrongly. My Daniel was born with a heart murmur. I prayed so hard for so long and it went away. I've never underestimated the power of prayer. First born sons are doted on in my family, Daniel was always favored and gently guided into doing the right thing as is tradition for young males in our culture. I've never had any opportunities to spoil him but I do try to provide for him. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and wouldn't hurt anyone intentionally.

He takes care of his possessions but isn't materialistic in any way, isn't influenced by clothing trends, and is very understanding when I can't buy the latest movie or game. He's very protective of his sisters. He will sit by himself and pretend beans or q-tips are army men. He will wrestle with puppies that he rescued from the landfill. Always looking for leftovers and table scraps to feed them

The amenities urban youth take for granted aren't available here; no swimming pool, bowling alley, movie theatres, or shopping malls. That is why we make do with what little we have. We tell stories about the stars, the legends of old, and laugh at old memories.

Daniel is currently in the Gifted and Talented Program at his school. He participated in the Gear UP Program since 2006. Its a summer program. He is consistently on the honor roll every quarter and goes on the incentive trips. We have many honor roll pins for him. He won Best of the Best in the reservation wide science fair when he was in the sixth grade. It was better than grand prize and I got to go with him to receive his award.

For the past two years he has volunteered to dress up as Dr. Seuss and read to the kindergarten class. He won a leadership award at the Shannon County Awards Banquet when he was in the sixth grade. He will go again this May for Academic Achievement. He and another were selected to be Student Council Representatives. He was also chosen to speak in front of state and tribal representatives at the grand opening of his new school. His teachers are always commenting on what a joy he is to have in their class.

He shows leadership qualities and somehow manages to calm his classmates down. I just couldn't ask for a better son. He chose his own lakota name which is Wanbli Oyakpa translated into golden eagle. Daniel truly is a golden eagle and will fly high.



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