January News from Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Impact of the Shutdown, Hundreds of Coats Distributed, and more!

Record Cold, Heat Match Program Pushed to the Limit

With our Heat Match program on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota now in its 20th year, Running Strong field coordinator Dave Lone Elk is seeing requests for assistance in record numbers, due largely to the recent government shutdown. The program provides utility assistance to hundreds of Pine Ridge families by matching dollar-for-dollar up to $100, in order to keep their propane tanks filled and help subsidize electric costs.

As usual, the weather in January is frigid and blustery and made even worse this January with the Polar Vortex that is making for below zero temperatures and the windchill far into the negative double digits.

“We received many people that never used our services before,” he told us.

Cheyenne River Youth Project Distributes Coats to Hundreds of Children and Families

On the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, it’s cold. But thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide Cheyenne River Youth Project with 350 coats in children’s and adults’ sizes, 300 sets of hats, scarfs, and gloves, and 550 children’s and adults’ sizes winter boots this month.

“We were able to serve so many people in our area,” said Meghan Tompkins, Deputy Director of Cheyenne River Youth Project. “Whole families walked out with large bags full of winter gear. It was so nice to know they will be able to go outside without freezing,” she added.

Year 2 Dreamstarter Jenna Smith Continues to Influence Osage Youth through Dance

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® 2016 Dreamstarter Jenna Smith had a dream of seeing Osage Nation children given the opportunity to learn ballet that connects to their cultural heritage. Now, she is seeing that dream flourish.

Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith (who also happens to be Jenna’s mom) recently told us that as a result of Jenna receiving her Dreamstarter grant, this past Fall students at Pawhuska high and middle schools will be allowed to choose dance as an elective. Likewise, if students choose to pursue dance as both of their electives, they have the opportunity to earn credit.

“And it all started with a man who said, ‘Let’s help them see their dreams come true.’”

Oyate Teca Garden Program Ramps Up on Pine Ridge Reservation

Although its January, gardening on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has begun at the Oyate Teca Project in anticipation of the warm spring and summer weather.

On January 9, Oyate Teca, the newest field office of Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, hosted an informational community meeting explaining everything they would be teaching to Pine Ridge families interested in growing their own organic vegetables and fruits, reported executive director Rose Fraser.

“All of these classes have proven to be effective,” says Rose, who has hosted the gardening classes for the past several years. “I am very excited to see the tremendous growth for our gardening program and anxious for families to grow and eat the vegetables they grew.”

Government Shutdown Impacts Native America Reservations and Families

With the longest shutdown of the federal government in U.S. history now ended, it’s no surprise that Native Americans both on reservations, such as the Pine Ridge Indian and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservations in South Dakota, and off were the ones who had to bear the brunt.

This month, we took steps to ship urgent emergency food supplies to our field office, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home) on Pine Ridge, and to our longtime partner on Cheyenne River, the Eagle Butte Food Pantry.

Running Strong field staffer Ken Lone Elk knows that the next several weeks will be hard on the families on both reservations. But he says, “We are committed to our families…a person’s life is more valuable than money.”

Running Strong Takes the Lead on Repairs to Hail-Damaged Homes on Pine Ridge

Thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth® and our partners, numerous homes damaged by a devastating hail storm on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in July have been repaired.

Running Strong field staffer Ken Lone Elk led the effort beginning shortly after the hail storm which shattered countless windows, stripped vinyl siding from the outside of mobile homes, damaged roofs and more.

Annual Report Now Available Online at the Running Strong Website

We at American Indian Youth Running Strong proudly present our 2017-2018 Annual Report as a snapshot to share the good work that you make possible. To save trees, look for more details, photos, and video on our website, IndianYouth.org!

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