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Endangered Stories: collecting wisdom for the future generations

South Dakota is the home of the Pine Ridge Reservation
A Bureau of Indian Affairs road sign riddled with bullet holes is one of few things spotted on highway 41 in the evening.
The Pine Ridge Reservation (also called the Pine Ridge Agency) is located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, on the border of Nebraska.
The reservation is the second largest reservation in the U.S.A. It is approximately 3,500 square miles (2.8 millon acres), with an undetermined population. The 2000 census states the population is 15,521, but an independent study accepted by HUD claims a population of 27,787 and local housing claims it's closer to 40,000.
49 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line, 61 percent of residents below the age of 18 live below the poverty line. $6,286 is the per-capita income on the reservation, in 2014, census data reported the per-capita income in Ohio to be $26,937.
80% of residents are unemployed (versus 10% in the rest of the U.S.)
Graffiti on an abandoned building in Whiteclay, Nebraska. Whiteclay is the closest source of alcohol to the alcohol-free reservation. The merchants in White Clay sell 4.5 Million cans of beer a year - 12,500 per day. Whiteclay's Population is 14 according to U.S. Census data, 2000. The Pine Ridge Reservation has been alcohol-free for over a century.
13 percent of residents lack complete plumbing facilities, while 9.2 percent lack complete kitchen facilities. Also, 22.8 percent lack phone service.
The Lakota people at the Pine Ridge Reservation receive $80 million annually in federal monies, such as Social Security and veterans benefits; they spend most of this money largely in stores located off the reservation in Nebraska border towns (like Whiteclay), so it creates no benefit for the tribe.
Lakota children dance in the pow wow at Oglala Lakota College graduation ceremony, Pine Ridge Reservation, June 2015. The infant mortality rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 5 times higher than the national average
Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance, and her son Nathan Blindman, Spearfish, SD 2014. Life expectancy in 2007 was estimated to be 48 for males and 52 for females

SOURCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_income#States_ranked_by_per_capita_income http://www.redcloudschool.org/reservation#sthash.kT9WGjoM.dpuf U.S. Census Data, 2000 http://100r.org/2012/02/gold-mines-in-hell/ http://www.grandmotherscouncil.org/

But the story doesn't end here...

Unci Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance, one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, holds a photo of herself as a baby. Unci (grandmother in Lakota) Rita was born on the Pine Ridge reservation. She was required to attend the Holy Rosary boarding school where she was forced to give up her culture and her language. She and her children and husband fled the reservation for decades. When her children were all grown, she returned to Pine Ridge to face the past and keep her culture alive.

Rita, whose younger sister died February, 2016, wishes to write a book about her life. To leave her stories behind for 'at least the next 7 generations'. It's my goal to help her do just that.
Unci Rita carries on her mission of sharing her story of family, of survival, hope and healing with the help of her son Nathan Blindman. Nathan is a dancer, a keeper of stories, and he arranges everything his mother needs including all obligations and travel with the 13 Grandmothers.
Unci Rita and her sons Nathan and Stewart, Slim Buttes, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD. 2015.

Nathan Blindman is a descendant. He tells his family story of survival and the massacre at Wounded Knee.

Created By
Laura Fong
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Credits:

LAURA FONG, AND LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (ARCHIVED PHOTOS)

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