JOIN US: Native American Children Need YOU!
There are no malls, no movie theatres, no shops or downtown areas for them to meet. Gas is expensive and travel from town to town may be a forty-five minute drive. There are dry dusty streets, long cold winters, virtually no sources of after school entertainment or even jobs. Alcoholism is rampant, as are all of the other expected social ills that accompany extreme poverty and hopelessness.
The rates of poverty on some of the reservations in South Dakota is at least 52.3%, and most believe it is closer to 70%. Unemployment on some of SD’s reservations is about 80%. The Native high school drop out rate in Rapid City, SD is about 60%. The average age of death for a Native American man in SD is about 50 years old. However, we did our own study and followed the obituaries in Pine Ridge and found that it was closer to 42 years old. Many in the obits, of course, were children.
Children need hope. They need to feel there is a future that will be exciting, stimulating, rewarding, and relevant to their culture. The lack of resources for children on the reservations are overwhelming. Changing Winds has begun to address this on several reservations, but is focusing right now on The Boys and Girls Clubs of Rosebud which has been given an old bowling alley that needs a complete refurbishing. We are looking for volunteers who will go out and lend their talents to rebuild, and also to teach skills that will enable the children to visualize a life that is relevant and sustaining.
Our programs have always been aimed at helping the children visualize a future where they can live a full life, free of the sting of racism. This future must be one that allows them to maintain their cultural identities. Reservation public schools completely ignore the Native perspective of history, making the children feel they are in the wrong school. They will learn about Columbus, but not Wounded Knee, even on their own land. One of our many goals is to bring classes onto the reservation that will enable students to become web artists, authors, broadcast journalists, and any other position that they can do to earn an income from the land they live on.
As for why Indians stay on the rez when they could theoretically leave, see Should Indians Cling to Reservations?
Sounds to me like the children of Pine Ridge need Native comic books to keep them busy. I'm talking about comics like DARKNESS CALLS and PEACE PARTY, not the stereotypical SCALPED.