Sunday, December 20, 2009

Response from another ONE Spirit friend who's been to Pine Ridge

For those who have never been to the reservation and actually seen the way many people have to live, it is hard to imagine that conditions like this exist in 21st century America - but they do. Last year I was asked to take pictures of an isolated, dilapidated, one room home with no electricity or running water, while the owner was in hospital suffering from an infection. I cannot post the photographs at this time, but taking them was a very difficult thing for me to do. It was the most desolate living space that I had ever seen - although very likely not the worst in the area.

In 2007 a man froze to death in his house a couple of miles from where I was staying. There was no reporting of this incident and an elderly Lakota told me: "So many people around here die untimely deaths that no one pays any attention any more."

Betty is right that none of us will be able to bring a permanent solution to the overall situation, but we can help provide food and warmth and the knowledge that somebody cares. The youth programs we support are also very important. The young people hold the future in their hands and they must have something to hope for if this epidemic of suicide is to end. Without hope it is very difficult to have life. We are making a difference, both now and for the future.

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