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Pine Ridge Reservation America’s Own Third World Country

Facts and personal observations of the Lakota People and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

I have never quite understood people who travel oversees and put forth so much effort to help those in Under developed countries, when we have a place right here in the US that has Third World conditions. Technically, this place is not “in the United States.” It is an Indian Reservation, therefore a Sovereign Nation.

The place to which I am referring is Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I first became aware of it several years ago when I began traveling back and forth from Omaha, Nebraska, to the Black Hills. When I heard the statistics, I was shocked. When I SAW the conditions, I was mortified. Here are just a few of the FYI’s about Pine Ridge Reservation;

  • The Average life expectancy on the Reservation is 46
  • Pine Ridge Teen suicide rate is 150 times higher than the National Average
  • 65% of the residents of the Reservation live in sub-standard conditions such as no electricity, running water, and often, without heat
  • Many of the elderly (some of whom still live in sod houses) die of Hypothermia each year
  • Average income is $2600 to $3500
  • Due to lack of sustainable jobs on the Reservation, unemployment is approximately 85-95%
  • Infant Mortality rate is 300% above National Average
  • There are NO commercial, industry or technology infrastructures on the Reservation to provide employment
  • Diabetes is 800 times higher than the National Average

The above facts don’t even begin to scratch the surface concerning the conditions on the reservation. Having been there many times, and coming to know the Lakota People, I have also learned the answers to many of the Pessimistic questions we non-natives have.

Q: Why don’t people just move OFF the reservation if it is so bad there?

A: For some, it is a matter of not knowing any other way. Just as there are 4th and 5th Generation Welfare recipients in the US, there are people who only know living on the reservation and how to function there.

Q: Any other reasons?

A: Over 50 % of the people of Pine Ridge speak their Native Language, and English, and a good many elders speak only Lakota. Time honored and traditional crafts are still taught to the young on the reservation, such as bead work, and animal skull art. Also, the reservation is THEIR land…the only thing white settlers left them with to call their own.

Q: Many people on the reservation get food stamps, doesn’t that help?

A: Not really. Not everyone who is entitled to Food stamps actually receives them. You must remember also that the Lakota Culture is a sharing one. If one has, the entire family has. It is not uncommon at all for 15 family members to be living in an elder’s 1 or 2 bedroom house and sharing the meals. One elder I know has 16 people living with her. One of her daughters does have a car, and works in Rapid City. Another daughter receives food stamps for herself and her 3 children. Those are basically the only family resources.

I have come to learn so much about the Lakota people and the culture. While the land is terrible in most places for any agriculture development, the landscape is beautiful. A mixture of Ponderosa Pine dotted land along with breath-taking sand hills and craters create a dramatic landscape parody. The people are rich in culture and tradition. There is also a Pride among the people which is unmistakable. While it is a sad fact that many Original Americans are alcoholic, I think it is important to note that it is a scientific fact that their bodies do not process alcohol the in the same way a Caucasian does. It is also important to note that the reservation is a Dry land. No alcohol allowed. However, just across the Nebraska Border is White Clay, which only purpose it seems is selling alcohol to the Original Americans.

I think it is admirable to want to help people of any Nation. My confusion comes when people overlook the poor and hungry within their own borders to find their “Cause.” Celebrities especially will log literally thousands of air miles traveling to Africa and such to help the poor. Perhaps they should just visit our Nation’s heartland and cross just over the Nebraska Border to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

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  1. Samar

    On July 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm


    Good point. Traveling to the third world is right in our backyard.
    Alcohol; I can’t say enough. They need to stop drinking. White Clay is evil and anyone working there is not an American and should be sent to Gitmo. Someday justice will be served to those in White Clay.

    Alcohol destroys. This chain must be broken.

    Shalom and may God bless and keep you.

  2. urban indian

    On August 20, 2008 at 9:38 pm


    How can you make somebody quit something that makes them feel good and helps them forget about the poor situation they live in? Alcohol is just about the only thing to do on the indian reservation. No industries, no big corporations and very minimal social resources means no work or jobs or job training. And you add no public transportation or hardly any means to get around, where does that leave the average indian. Do you see my point? The politicians don’t want to be bothered by it because there’s no money in it for them or their campaigns. Hillary only did it to show that she has compassion for the poor folk. But now that she didn’t elected for the presidential nomination, do you think she’ll be back to help out the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation? Personally, I doubt she’ll even think about the indians anymore. I was born in Oglala, S.D. but most of my life has been spent in Bay Area of California. My family still lives back home( Oglala). It’s sad, the plight of the only true Americans.

  3. leon

    On September 24, 2008 at 8:23 am


    How do we help? You have given us the story now what do we do about it.

  4. sigh...

    On September 26, 2008 at 5:06 pm


    Personally, I’ve heard enough about Indians, Blacks, Mexicans, Etc, Etc, Etc…I understand national pride, tradition, and the like. But if things are that bad, move. I moved here from another state to raise my family in a safer environment. I have never been given any land. I work for what is mine. It’s all too easy to blame others for your situation, it makes an easy excuse. I’m also tired of national (insert here) pride month, (another race) heritage day, black only colleges, blah, blah, blah. If the white people ever formed any white only groups, had a white history month, or kept other races out of colleges, they would be racist. So many hypocrites, it drives me nuts. Take care of your situation. Life is a matter of choices, deal with things and move on.

  5. Bad Face Bull

    On October 3, 2008 at 9:21 pm


    If you would like to help, I recommend getting involved with:

    Oglala Lakota College
    http://www.olc.edu/
    for the preservation of language and culture as well as for teaching vital skills

    and/or

    the Native American Heritage Association
    http://www.naha-inc.org/Default.htm
    To feed and clothe the Lakota on the rez.

  6. cheryl

    On October 5, 2008 at 11:44 pm


    hi

    i am interested in helping and possibly even moving to that area sometime in the future. i don’t have a college degree but i can be a fighter for rights.

    1. where would a white person live in that area if they wanted to volunteer and help? the reservation is probably only for Native Americans and families right? Can a white person rent somewhere on rez?

    2. what town or city is withing reasonable driving distance to obtain employment while living in the area and in some of my free time to volunteer?

    anyone living on the rez or familiar enough with the questions, please reply here.

    you can also send me email to:

    cherylmader@netzero.net

    thanks

    although I know white people living today were not responsible directly with the arrogance of cheating the Native American and for the past slavery of African Americans, as a white woman, it is a disgrace what some of our race has done.

  7. Schaller

    On November 3, 2008 at 6:20 am


    I gotta say that I don’t have any pity upon the Native people living in these lands. They just don’t seem to want to get better. Many times the government checks they receive are part of what keeps them there not to mention the payments they get from casinos. It would seem that some of them, if conditions were so deplorable, would use these hand outs to greater benefit than they have, i.e. don’t drink alcohol, save up some cash, get a job, improve their homes, etc. It seems so black and white to me, but I’m sur eit is a lot more complicated, however, they seem to not want to get better.
    And blaming the whites is not something they can do entirely. In fact my family has only been in the country since the 1920s. Nothing in my family’s past has impacted the natives. I think that on a whole, the people that live on those reservations would rather sit around, do nothing, get paid for it and live miserably rather than work hard and have a better life. Desire seems to be lacking.

  8. Jean Schwartz

    On November 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm


    I’m not Native American, but I don’t think you have to be to understand how bad things are at Pine Ridge and if you are at all educated about the history there you will understand the magnitude of the problem.

    If you want to HELP I urge you to visit http://www.nativeprogress.org – the website of ONE Spirit, a non-profit run by ALL volunteers – which works to improve conditions and lives out at PRR.

    However, if you think that most of the people living on Pine Ridge Rez are lazy or have other options you are simply uninformed. Educate yourself and don’t put people down about whom you obviously know NOTHING.

  9. Jessica

    On February 22, 2009 at 8:57 pm


    It seems to me that some of the people on this page grew up pretty sheltered. Have you ever experienced poverty such as this? Those people living on the reservations stay there and live in the squalid conditions because they are SAFE there, not because they necessarily enjoy it. They aren’t lazy, they are just used to the way they live their life. Contrary to popular belief, many families DO move out of the reservations, to find a new life, but some just can’t do it.

    Why?

    Becauseof prejudice. I don’t know about South Dakota, but many places have a huge problem with racism against Native Americans. Just head up north to our neighbors in Canada to see my point. Native Americans are pulled over for no good reason, believed by white police officers to “up to no good”. A friend of mine went trick or treating last Halloween and were chased down by a cop and verbally assaulted for no good reason. Just because they were Native and were walking around. My boyfriend’s father was thrown in jail for no reason, and his cop friend had to get him out. And as far as civilian hate crimes? I higher percentage of Native women are raped in Canada than any other race, and more hate crimes are committed against Natives than any other race as well. People living on reservations up north WANT to leave, but are too scared to.

    Can you blame them?

    If you are going to call a people welfare mongers and free-loaders, first take your rose-colored glasses off and try to see the entire situation.

  10. Bobbie

    On March 30, 2009 at 6:38 pm


    Do the people their welcome help? I know the original people are also prideful people, my husband is a native american and very proud and would never accept a hand out, how can we help with out offering a hand out. What is really needed?

  11. winddancer09

    On April 15, 2009 at 10:20 am


    I can’t believe some of the calloused comments on this board. Look into the faces of the children if you cannot find compassion in your heart for the older people. I don’t have a lot of money myself but for some time have studied the Oglala Sioux — their history is very interesting and inspiring. Read Black Elk Speaks — he was given a vision a week before Wounded Knee. Who was the “man” in the vision with an eagle feather and painted red? He showed Black Elk a land where the people who would be killed would be going — green with trees and also tipis. This man was Jesus. Black Elk knew this later in his life when a Catholic priest befriended him and Black Elk became Catholic. These are precious people. We must do all we can and also plead their cause to those with a lot of money to help them. I will be shipping gently used clothing, shoes and whatever books or toys to the children — and telling everyone about them.

  12. rainMaker

    On April 28, 2009 at 8:18 pm


    =) Fer sure, one day. some day very close. i am going to help my native brothers and sisters out! I cant sit here and see that my own people (naitves) are living in what i read up above. i hear it all the time. in newspapers. websites. videos. ill help them out. ill show them that theres a way to live a better life. but also staying with their culture and traditions. language. im coming. =)

  13. Twiggy

    On May 26, 2009 at 12:03 am


    It really gets to me when I hear about anything like this. I’m native & very proud, but very sad about what my people are going through. I get a little annoyed when they sit around and don’t fight. I want to dedicate much of my life to helping my people. We all need to start fighting back tho. There are only a few of us who will at the moment and I think the first thing we need to do is unite all the natives and then we can really do something about this.

  14. juandos

    On July 11, 2009 at 11:15 pm


    Lakota = Losers!

  15. Yam Erez

    On July 23, 2009 at 6:08 am


    I’m white and frustrated when I hear other whites advising the poor of any race to simply “bootstrap”. Does anyone have a good comeback for this that such whites can relate to? It doesn’t do any good to explain that “They can’t…it’s hard…they’re used to the rez…” I need something solid.

  16. sommer

    On September 10, 2009 at 8:37 pm


    Yeah i do agree with the comment that we do need communicate and get our thoughts through so we can\’t change. but every time we have a big time meeting the feds are watching. it\’s not easy for us to gather. and we are not lazy. it is true predjudice against us is everywhere. i lived in lawrence kansas one of the most hate free towns. i never encountered prejudice until i went to a town a while off the highway on the border of nebraska. my basketball team was playing their team. the reffs made bad calls they fouled out alot of my players. and they even walked all of us to the cars. prejudice is an everyday thing in some places thats why we cant get off the rez. thinkin that we have it easy is just the type of ignorance that keeps us living the way we are living.

  17. Metis Girl

    On September 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm


    Being Métis has offered me a taste of both worlds. I’m from Canada but have Aboriginal friends from all over North America. It is an extremely complex situation to try to solve. I’ve never lived on a reservation, but have many friends who do. I haven’t quite figured out just yet what keeps them on the reservation, other than the fact that they have a strong community base, they feel safe and also they’ve been told their whole lives that they are less worthy than other Canadians. They’ve also been treated with little respect or fairness from the time they were very young. Many reservations deal with alcoholism…and that is not an easy thing to grow up with! And quite frankly, I’m frustrated with all of the stereotypical racist comments i heard above. The people you are talking about are humans, and by degrading them ever further by saying they should be able to live off of hand outs is disgusting. Before you go and bash others way of life, why don’t you go and try to live a day in their shoes! The huge hand outs you think they’re getting are nothing worthy of any human being. Like stated above, both within Canada and the United States children are living impoverished lives. Both physically and opportunity wise. And please, do you seriously thing every Native reserve has a Casino!?! That’s rediculous. Out of my many Aboriginal friends from all across Canada, I only know one who lives on a reservation that has a Casino. So please learn your facts before judging, and realize that all people of every race deserve respect! Aboriginals are a proud people, but you make it difficult to be proud when you degrade us every chance you get.
    Be kind.

  18. mike shive

    On November 1, 2009 at 1:38 pm


    I tried helping and gave a “loan” to a Lakota that said he had a great chance to buy land. Pretended to be a medicine man. He ripped me off for three thousand dollars and I later found out you cannot buy and sell land on the reservation. Donation does not do any good, The issue is much deeper. People move on and it is time to let go of the past

  19. Mahalia

    On November 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm


    I’m sorry you were taken. However, letting go and just moving on will only do more harm than good. A lot of laws and treaties were just let go and many law makers moved on from what promises they made after subjugating Native Americans and Africans slaves to inhumane conditions and unjust expectations. Thus keeping the offended races in poverty and at a disadvantage from rising up and fighting for equal voices, rights and reprisal. Many colonist/frontiersmen/conquerors/forefathers what ever label you would like to use for these men, who purposely forgot promises and what was morally right for fear that they would loose; lucrative land, economic advantage over their European sisters. So instead they taught these people, Natives and slaves, to hate themselves, taught them to strive to look and act like whites and they used the Bible to do this. They ripped away land country and roots. Now what do you think will happen to a people when the quilt of their exsistance has been burned?

    When People are forced to forget their histories, are forced to forget their tongues, are forced to forget themselves what is left of a man, but an empty hole in your soul. A people become an empty shell of themselves, and they use stimulants to fill that emptiness. they no longer understand their purpose as a collective whole, when your bonds have been torn from you. And you are now forced to navigate against a sea of opposition isolated from your strength, when your blood’s memory tells you you are only a stitch in a quilt. They can not forget, they can not move on, they can not pick up the pieces and forge new identities out of nothing.

    The new challenge for this generation is to piece back together identities of what has been outlawed. Yes outlawed. It was against the law for a Native American to speak her tongue, practice his religion, to identify their race with pride. It was against the law for black slaved to cleave to his native languages to keep family bonds to marry to raise her own children. It was a against the law for these collective peoples to function as a collective hole, in a family unit. It was taught to them how to be dysfunctional.

    And now only fifty years later when it has been engraved in these societies not to be productive, not to be family oriented, not to have any self worth, now white uneducated, and educated, people say “get over it and just move on, what’s done is done and can’t be undone”. But what is not realized is that it can be undone, these things can be undone is if you choose to educate your self, you friends, neighbors to identify the root problem and work to heal that wound.

    These are barriers that have to be overcome, and to over come them you must relearn your past your heritage. Others past and heritage, and understand there is a common bond hurt. One wasn’t done worst to than the other, just differently, these hurts still have the same outcome socially and economically.

    And believe it or not these oppressions still happen today when ever anyone from one of these social classes make stride to overcome their poverty and less than mind set.There are people, government agencies, and fellow bothers and sisters who make stride to keep them from rising.

    So no, hand outs will not work. It’s education that is needed. People have to be reeducated of who they are as a people.

  20. N8ive

    On January 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm


    I am Native American and lived on the P.R.R. my whole life and seen many of my people drunk on the 1st of the month. I am tried of seening people drunk and and beaten up their families because they don\’t have beer or weed i seen evey thing on the Rez and my family fall apart because of WhiteClay.

  21. Traci

    On February 11, 2010 at 4:56 pm


    You can Also help by supporting and/or donating to SOTY…Save Our Tribal Youth at:

    http://www.saveourtribalyouth.com/

  22. Consuela

    On February 25, 2010 at 3:33 am


    Forgetting ones past does not create a hole in your soul, its a bunch of garbage! Most Americans whoes ancesters came to the USA long ago have forgotten their roots or have no recollection of exactly where they came from, and these people are not shells!

    If these natives gave a damn about their heritage they wouldnt drink and put the alcohol before their families. People with no moral fiber are the sort of people who put vice before family. Who are these families that allow these adults to abuse on these children?!?!

    You let druggies and drunks raise the children and what you get is a kindergartner that drinks, how lovely! Sorry but substance abusers need to get kicked off the reservation and have their children taken elsewhere.

    I dont want to hear about these peoples culture when its obvious they could care less about it themselves. As to the garbage about surrounding communities hating on natives, well thats the price paid for crimes committed by natives in the surrounding communities.

    I am from southern California and ive never heard about anyone being racist against Natives, so perhaps a state change would be best for those who really want to help themselves.

    And as to the comment above which stated that 16 people lived in one home, those 16 people can band together and live elsewhere and be safe, the asians come here and live like this and they are able to save a lot of money by helping one another. There is no reason why most of these people cant work, if they dont have jobs why arent they assisting the community?

    Living on the reservation and NOT working, and NOT assisting others is not productive at all. Its time to STOP blaming white people for situations you’ve created all by yourself by allowing the continued abuse of children go unpunished.

  23. Benjamin

    On March 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm


    I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology. I am working on a Bachelor’s in Nursing, and then will work on my Doctorate in Nurse Anesthesiology, or medical school, whichever I get accepted to. My wife is a Nurse Practitioner.

    My grandmother was Oglala Lakota, born on the Pineridge reservation. I’ve tried contacting the tribe for many years and have never heard anything. I would one day like to offer free healthcare there… a little hard to do when no one will talk to you…

  24. shawna beau

    On April 6, 2010 at 3:59 am


    To donate supplies to deprived reservations, please visit:

    http://www.wolfpoint.xbuild.com

    PLEASE DO NOT SEND MONEY.

  25. Daniel M. Breen

    On April 19, 2010 at 12:09 pm


    I think a BIG part of the problem is Christianity. I read the autobiography of Russell Means several years back and he details numerous accounts of Catholic and Protestant ministers molesting and raping Indian children because no one gave a damn. Also, as part of the Dawes Act of 1924, Native Americans had most of their good land taken from them and they were shoved into reservations with bad land like Pine Ridge. Then their children were taken to these so-called “Christian” boarding schools where they were beaten and abused if they spoke Native languages or tried to practice Native religions. This sort of crap went on until the 1970s when the American Indian Movement finally put a stop to it. And most of the sheltered and privilaged people posting here wonder why there are still problems at places like Pine Ridge? Oh, and lets not forget the 1970s when they had the stand-off at Wounded Knee and the Tribal Council killing traditional Indians that didn’t want to go along with their Gestapo tactics. Peter Mathison documents that in his book “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”, which documents the false imprisonment of Leonard Peltier. Two FBI agents were killed at Pine Ridge and the government framed Leonard and has locked him up for over 30 years on false charges. Look it up if you don’t believe me. So, yeah, maybe the crazy Indians have some reason to be a little unhappy with the government screwing them over and abusing their rights. Oh, and yeah, 80% unemployment at Pine Ridge might tend to create a few social problems too. But people living on Wall Street or Bel-Air don’t understand poverty or real suffering.

  26. Kathryn Brookins

    On May 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm


    I just want to say that I for one understand why they stay there on the Reservation and do not move, that is thier land, it is all they have left.. if they move and live like the rest of us, then they give up what they had fought so hard to maintane and hold onto. They would be doing exactly what the goverment has been trying to force them to do for hundreds of years by keeping them in Poverty and living in inhumane conditions. I wish I was not living in Poverty myself.. I would come and help them to buy the soil they need and I would bring tillers to help plant crop and get them going on seeds and vegatibles so they can eat, I would help them repair their homes and build a play place for thier children…. All of this saddens me deeply… NO ONE should be FORCED to live that way. And the Lakota peoples are being forced, no matter how you look at it… the goverment says, “move out into society and you will live better and have more options, if you move and give up your land, if you stay, you will recieve no help and live in rotten homes and dirty conditions and die at young ages with little to no healthcare and medicine.” …. ITS NOT RIGHT and its NOT FAIR!! A day of reckoning will come and the TRUE NATIVES of this land will be taken care of and will be given back thier rich life they once lived. All comes full circle and I speak to the Creator nightly and I speak to Mother Earth… times are here and soon, what has been wronged will be made right again. I love all nations and my heart breaks for us all… Evil is running this country and has for centuries now, the circle is coming back to the begining and Mother Earth will be given back to the Native American Indians to take care of her once again. I too live in Poverty and I too know what it is like to live without electricity and try to work the best you can for you and your family to survive… I have no money to help, but I continue my talks and rituals with the Creator for us all……. I would give anything to be able to more… much more.

  27. Kathryn Brookins

    On May 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm


    I just want to say that I for one understand why they stay there on the Reservation and do not move, that is thier land, it is all they have left.. if they move and live like the rest of us, then they give up what they had fought so hard to maintane and hold onto. They would be doing exactly what the goverment has been trying to force them to do for hundreds of years by keeping them in Poverty and living in inhumane conditions. I wish I was not living in Poverty myself.. I would come and help them to buy the soil they need and I would bring tillers to help plant crop and get them going on seeds and vegatibles so they can eat, I would help them repair their homes and build a play place for thier children…. All of this saddens me deeply… NO ONE should be FORCED to live that way. And the Lakota peoples are being forced, no matter how you look at it… the goverment says, \”move out into society and you will live better and have more options, if you move and give up your land, if you stay, you will recieve no help and live in rotten homes and dirty conditions and die at young ages with little to no healthcare and medicine.\” …. ITS NOT RIGHT and its NOT FAIR!! A day of reckoning will come and the TRUE NATIVES of this land will be taken care of and will be given back thier rich life they once lived. All comes full circle and I speak to the Creator nightly and I speak to Mother Earth… times are here and soon, what has been wronged will be made right again. I love all nations and my heart breaks for us all… Evil is running this country and has for centuries now, the circle is coming back to the begining and Mother Earth will be given back to the Native American Indians to take care of her once again. I too live in Poverty and I too know what it is like to live without electricity and try to work the best you can for you and your family to survive… I have no money to help, but I continue my talks and rituals with the Creator for us all……. I would give anything to be able to more… much more.

  28. Joy

    On June 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm


    Thank you so much for writing this article. It may have changed the direction of my life…only time will tell. I am a college student under loads of debt who was considering going to China to teach after graduating this December. Honestly, I wasn’t that passionate about it, but was looking for a way to get out of debt so I could start helping people. But then I ran across this article, while researching the American Indian Movement for class. I’ve been to “third world” countries that are better off than this. It just broke my heart to read that this kind of poverty exists in the United States. I mean, I’ve seen inner-city slums and heard about the Appalachian people. I’ve worked with homeless people and helped repair orphanages. My mom was a teacher in Immokalee, Florida for 5 years, so I got to know some of those families who are struggling to survive. And my own family has always lived check to check, but it shocks me to see the conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation. No running water? No electricity? 80% unemployment and hardly any jobs to boot? I feel like I’ve been hooked and there’s no getting away from it. I can’t stop thinking about and praying for the people. Mom thinks I’ve gone off the deep end on this, especially when she found out that I ordered Lakota language books and intend to move to South Dakota instead of China…lol. But she did say something that made me think. She said, “What makes you think that you can’t help people when you’re in debt?”
    After reading the responses on here, I would ask the same question to some of you. It really doesn’t matter how poor you are, if everyone works together and contributes what little they can, the world as we know it will change for the better. Personally, I have no clue what I have to offer at the moment, but in a few years I’ll just show up with two hands and two feet and ask how I can help. Maybe you do not feel called to leave where you are, but you can talk to your community to see if they can contribute something.
    I think it’s great that the Lakota people decided to succede from the States. I read that in another article. Even though the area and the people look devastated through the present eye, there is great potential if they could catch the vision of some of their elders.
    As far as the name-calling on both sides…You know what, you should not generalize people. Each person decides his/her own path. Some choose the good and others the bad. There is good and bad in people of every race and tribe and creed. Has hate ever helped anyone? No. Love is the answer. Love everyone equally, no matter what somebody else may or may not have done to you. Just keep in mind your own faults and failures and that should keep you humble enough to not judge someone from the outside – in, but rather to evaluate that person from the inside – out. What is race anyway? Who decided? The media? It’s a hoax! Line people up against a wall and you will find more beautiful shades than than you can imagine. It doesn’t boil down to black, white, red, yellow and brown like you were taught in school. Can a sunset be categorized into one or two colors? Of course not. So why do we try to do the same to people? We all have blue blood running in our veins. Everyone is related. So stop trying to separate people according to your experiences.
    Ok, I know this was a long post, so thank you for taking the time to read it. Have a wonderful day :)

  29. Sara

    On June 11, 2010 at 11:52 am


    Joy is right, love is the answer. I learned about civil disobedience back in the early 70s while protesting the living conditions of a nearby reservation. My ancestors came to this country from Europe in the mid 1800s. I just started tracing my family roots and found that I have cousins from two different tribes that lived on two different reservations. I didn’t know that I had family living on reservations and you might find out that you do too. By trying to make a difference for Native Americans you might just be helping family that you didn’t know existed. It all boils down to this folks. Love one another and treat people the same way that you would want to be treated.

    Substance abuse is a symptom of a larger problem. It is used to escape pain, hurt, trauma and depression. It is easy to say stop drinking and your life will get better, but that doesn’t solve the underlying problems.

    Folks you really can not understand the issues unless you visit a reservation and talk to the people who live there. Talk to the woman who has bruises on her face because her frustrated husband who cannot find a job took it out on her. Talk to an elder who watched their spouse die next to them as they shivered in the cold because of hypothermia. Talk to the teenager who dreams of being a doctor but because her edcation is so poor she will not be able to pass an enterance exam. Try to put yourself in their shoes and really understand what they are going thru. Open your hearts and help them any way you can. Together lets try to make the world a place where no one has to suffer.

  30. MM

    On June 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm


    I live in ND and a good majority (not all) of the Native Americans are more prejudice than the white people. Yes, there is poverty on the reservations but that is a choice that these people make. If you want a better life, you need to go out and work for it just like the rest of us. They receive free land, free medical, and free schooling so they have a better chance than the rest of the people; they choose not to do anything with it. If they want to be treated as everyone else, let them keep their land but make them live by the laws as the rest of the State and then there will be no prejudice. I realize this is a generation thing but sometimes people need to step up and break the cycle.

  31. James

    On June 22, 2010 at 10:31 pm


    I am another second or third generation off the reservation native American. I have been researching the family history in hopes of finding more information of my family’s past. In my search of the history of the families I have found that the native American people who tried to make it in the white world hid their native names and language to make it there. It is a sad fact to live in society you had to reject your people in order to survive. My wife’s family adopted the family name of Smith in order to make it. ( Andrew Jackson Smith ) Yet they were first generation children of Geronimo in Oklahoma and Northeast Arkansas. My family two generations back were Blackfoot in northern Arkansas. I just found reference to my grandmother I knew as a child on the roles in 1910. I am still trying to put all of the bit’s of information together for my grandchildren.

    a

  32. rose

    On September 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm


    Ok Folks, I have been to the Pine Ridge and I have an adopted elder there. I stated with One Spirit. They will help you find an Elder or a child to sponsor. Or you can just send them the money to help the people, I bring and send my Elder things that she needs. Like heaters, coats, blankets, food, ect. I don’t give money just in case there is an alcohol problem. She in turn, gives what she can not use for herself and family, to others in her area. As for jobs Pine Ridge is in the middle of nowhere. 23 miles from the Nebraska boarder and about 3 hours from Rapid City. I am a 1st Generation American. My family has nothing to do with the plight of the Original Americans either but I try my best to help them. I am not rich either. I live on a fixed income and still do it. So, What is your excuse again?

  33. a gratefull veteran

    On October 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm


    Many years ago when I was stationed at Ellsworth AFB I dated a Lakota woman and was treated better by her family and friends than by most of my own squadron mates. My heart goes out to them and also wonder why celebraties help others overseas but ignore those that need it the most here at home. To the Lakota, the treatment that I received by a member of your nation has not been forgotten and my next trip that way will carry the rewards from a heart that has not forgotten your people and their plight on Pine Ridge.

  34. Melissa Espinoza

    On October 14, 2010 at 1:17 am


    I have read every log here. I have found disgust, hatred, sympathy and somewhat empathy for the native American Indian. Although we are talking about the Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation, it really doesn’t matter what tribe or reservation. The negative comments really irritate me; those are the ones that should walk a mile in moccasins and see how they feel or how they would live. I came across this site by doing some research with my son for a school project on Sioux Indians. I had already read about how hard it is on reservations in other articles, but really had no idea of the exact impact. A quote that I found from another article is this whenever the railroad hired hunters to kill all of the buffalo which were the mainstay in Sioux life–”The Sioux would rather starve than give up their land.” I think that still holds true today–it is all they have left. Approximately five generations ago, there was full-blood Cherokee Indian on my Dad’s side of the family. On my Mother’s side my great-great grandmother was full-blood Blackfoot Indian. In all the racism that there is today, people need to remember who was here first and whom have been the most persecuted (and still are). This has really opened up my eyes and I plan on doing whatever that I can to help. I am not rich by any means; I am single mom supporting three boys with very little child-support. I work and am thankful in today’s times that I have a job. The self-righteous hypocrites that read this and choose to critcize need to find another site to be on…by the way, why are you here anyway?

  35. Veronica Bright

    On October 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm


    FROM THE AUTHOR: Just a few updates here for those who are too ignorant to get the facts:

    IF the proceeds from the casino were evenly distributed among listed Tribal members, each would get approximately $0.15. WOW… maybe they can buy that newspaper they have been saving up for!

    The land share for those on Pine Ridge Reservation in 2005 was about $0.11.

    Where does everyone get this notion that the government sends them vast amounts of money?

    Ignorance IS bliss, and some of you who do not know comassion or charity will have to explain yourself to your maker one day.

    I DO NOT acknowledge any of the links given in the comments with the exception of One Spirit They can, do and WILL help.

    The nearest large town for these people to get employment would be Rapid City, which is an hour away. Smaller towns closer to them offer no year-round, long term employment.

    To those of you who have responded with kindness and understanding…I thank you.

  36. Neville 1963

    On November 12, 2010 at 8:01 am


    How very sad that an idigenous population should become so displaced . I have a project in the pipeline concerning the battle of the little big horn but am finding it difficult not to devote my entire bias in the favour of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.

  37. Charlene Ramsey

    On November 17, 2010 at 11:35 am


    We are all related and equal in the Great Spirit’s eye.

    Luther Standing Bear, an Oglala Sioux Chief said, I quote, “That hand is not the color of your hand, but if I pierce it I shall feel pain. The blood that will follow from mine will be the same color as yours. The Great Spirit made us both.”

    We are to help our brothers and sisters in need!

  38. Cyndia

    On December 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm


    You people who say ‘if you don’t like your situation, move’ really get my blood boiling. Put yourself in the situation…just for a moment. You and your family (mother, father, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neices and nephews) all live in a 2 )and I may be stretching it a little–but not much) bedroom tiny cabin with no electricity, no running water and most times no heat or air conditioning. at all. Now, nobody in the house has a car or a job. HOW THE HELL YOU GONNA MOVE?? Everybody pick something up and walk? Rapid City is 150 miles one way Denver CO is 350 miles another way. You wanna try it? Learn about the plight of the Lakota before you show your own stupidity! Otherwise keep you stupidity to yourself.

  39. DNOE

    On January 16, 2011 at 12:13 am


    just checked this site out… a little late on a response to sigh from back in 2008 but i cant hold it in . the native americans are not asking for land … how about the fact that what they dont have was taken from them . i personally think we owe them quite a bit. it saddens me every day to think of the way these wonderful people were treated and have to live in any condition less than the average,i know some of it may be from their own choices but not the majority.

  40. DNOE

    On January 16, 2011 at 12:31 am


    Also i challenge and pray that each and every indian nation strives to not let their culture die. they are the most beautful people on earth,although im not shure if i have any indian blood in me ( i wished my veins ran full. ) I want my grandchildren to see what these people have lived through and just how wonderful a people they were and still are. I have made a vow to do what i can to help in some way and am currently researching how to do something … im a hands on kind of guy and dont wont to send anything i want to take ot or build it or something . if anyone could help me with finding out how to personally help Feel free to contact me at 865-382-2017

  41. Sandra

    On March 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm


    I also get frustrated with these comments and the fact that everyone goes to other countries to volunteer.
    I am “Native American/First Nation” from Canada but have visited many reserves across North America. I have also lived on the Navajo reservation. I have lived my whole life on a reserve and am currently working in a northern remote reserve.
    Sometimes our people are forgotten or discriminated against. However, it’s not ok to generalize that all reservations are the same (or every Nation). I am not going to say that every Native person has good intentions but there are many that do want to do better but are incapable of doing so.
    In order for my grandfather to get a university education he actually had to leave our reserve and move to a location in a remote area outside of a city and pretend he came from a different ethnicity. Then when he finally received his degree no organization would hire him (or would immediately fire him) when they met him in person.
    I have taken and completed various college diplomas and am currently studying Psychology at a prestigious university – but I still have to deal with the same stereotypes and discrimination that my ancestors have dealt with. My parents have Master’s degrees (both are “full-blooded” native americans) and have great jobs on reserves- I am a 4.0 GPA student but yet I still struggle with the way that people treat me. I either get reverse racism or direct racism – it’s very rare that I find people willing to help me, work with me on group projects, hire me, be friends with me, talk to me, etc. I don’t drink or use drugs – and never have – but when I go out with friends everyone assumes I’m drunk and the police harass me. The police don’t take any of my reports seriously and when I work with non-native agencies I also have to deal with the same thing.

    If I am this well off but still struggling can any of you even possibly imagine what it’s like for people whose family has never been given the oppurtunity to grow or change. People who have lived with generations of family memberswho were dependent to alcohol or other drugs. People who haven’t completed high school, etc. It’s not easy at all – my family was poor and it took us years to get where we are at now even though we had a good foundation. It’s good for people to take responsibility for their lives but it’s one of the most difficult things a person can do. Intergenerational trauma has effected all of us and it is not something that can be fixed over night.

    Before you make comments that are full of misinformation and discrimination please go out there and actually meet some First Nation/Native American people. Visit our reserves to see what it’s really like. Meet not only the people struggling with alcohol abuse/dependence but meet with their families or friends that are being affected by it. Meet the people who are doing well and the ones who are dealing with extreme poverty. Read about our history and how many of our languages and culture were taken from us. Read about residential schools, AIM, stand-offs/crisis, the Nations that have gone extinct, etc. Knowledge truly is power…

  42. candi

    On October 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm


    I am a mid-thirties urban Apache Indian. I am off the rez, work hard for my dough, don’t drink heavily (occasionally, hehe) rent my own place and own my own ride. It’s easy to do my native brothers and sisters, I left the Rez and never looked back. I go back to visit sometimes, and when I get old I will return to die there. You all need to figure out what’s important for you and your family, get those bills paid, stop the drinking or drink responsibly, and stay away from the heavy sh*t… I know who I am and love it as everyone should whether they be white, black or whatever. Get that education, get a good job and stop depending on the government for everything!

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