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View Diary: Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334 (244 comments)

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  •  Oh, dear God. (19+ / 0-)

    SarahLee, I'm so, so sorry.

    I know words don't help right now.  You and your loved ones will be in my prayers, as well as your niece herself for her journey.  Much love to you - and if I can do anything, even if it's just provide an ear, please don't hesitate.  Addy's in my profile; cell is under "Contact" at the Web site in my sig.  Hugs, my dear.

    Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

    by Aji on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:59:52 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Bless you and thanks (19+ / 0-)

      I'm OK.  We started a suicide task force a few years ago when there was a large surge of suicides.  The PSAs and other work seemed to help for a while - though there was talk that the suicides just moved from our rez and circulated through others.  Now of course there is fear that it is happening again here.  That these will be the start of a new cycle or something.

      As this diary so well demonstrates, there is more than enough cause to feel despair on the reservations. More than enough cause for anyone to be overcome with the weight of history.

      And as one elder spoke today - when we say "Mitakuye Oyasin" it is to remind us of how we are related to all of life.  With life under attack on so many fronts on and outside the rez, (economy, racism, environment) we are all carrying a huge connected burden that can make it difficult to also find and relish the joys in our lives.  

      I found some cause for joy in the gathering of all the people who came this week and today to help this family with this particular burden.  With the young men who escorted this young woman to the cemetery on horseback and then raced the horses back home at the end of the ceremony so they could help carry food to the arbor where we served all the people who came.  

      The work I've been doing this year is not "happy work."  I am dealing with an ugly, horrid issue.  So it was good to see and be reminded today that people still come together and help share the burdens when they are called to.

      Peace and Blessings and thanks again.

      •  I love your recounting this funeral on the rez (11+ / 0-)

        It mirrors my tribe's.

        The crowd has to be fed and it happens, regardless of obstacles like transportation. Rez power.

        I have a wonderful photo album about my beloved Uncle's funeral. He was a medicine man but I can't make them public. Your description made me think of it.

        Thanks SarahLee...

      •  were you in "upper cut meat"? (10+ / 0-)

        it was so bad we had to make a choice of which funeral to go to.

      •  Bless you. (7+ / 0-)

        It's terrible situation, and I can only pray that it's not a case of, as you said, they cycle starting again.  (A lot of the Shinob bands have been enduring the same cycle, and it's horrifying.)

        I'm glad that you were able to find a little joy, too.  That balance is one thing the old ways taught well, if we can just remember.  Much love, SarahLee, and chi miigwech for the work you're doing.

        Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

        by Aji on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 05:38:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As a child I had relatives on the Rosebud (8+ / 0-)

        (next to Pine Ridge) There was unimaginable poverty then 60 plus years ago. Everything I learned about nature and respecting the gifts we have been given came from that time, from people who loved me. That time changed my world view, my beliefs and religion, my understanding of God, my place in the universe and gave me a profound connection to all living things I would not have known otherwise.

        I thought years ago with the closing of indian schools and the ending of the theft of whole generations of Native children it would change for the better. I had hoped with the election of Obama things would start to change, sadly last winter proved that at least so far has not been the case. The problems faced on the reservations and by Native Americans are not unsolvable, it is a huge disappointment to me the neglect and slow genocide continues into its second century and our President has not even started to change or abate the human tragedy being played out every day in this country.

        •  Pine Ridge was last century's US Gaza Strip n/t (5+ / 0-)
        •  I am on the Rosebud. (5+ / 0-)

          This president has made some steps in the right direction.  I would like to believe that were there not so many other crises issues on his plate he would do more.  

          It is very difficult to unwind the damage that prior history is done - the boarding schools and the churches in particular.  Erase a few generations of parenting skills by removing children from their families and you do damage for generations to come.

          •  My Uncle Bert worked for 30 years (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SarahLee, navajo, translatorpro

            at the local stockyards because he was good with animals. He breathed in straw dust every day of those 30 years and it ultimately killed him. He lived for the times when he could just be who he was, an indian. IMO, it is difficult for those of us with european ancestry to understand what it is like for a whole group of people to be told conform or perish. We have never really faced it in this country. Nor have we faced on the same scale with the possible exception of African Americans the  spirit killing stereotypes and bigotry Native Americans continue to face. What is worse in my eyes is we have not provided a decent frame work for them to use their cultural strengths to heal so much of the damage done. It is more than economic and educational opportunities, how do you start rebuilding families and futures without respecting who they are. No one should have to give up something so fundamental to survive.  

            Don't get me started on the church. My elderly mother supported a church run school until I found out and made her stop. She thought she was doing a good thing making sure those children believed in God and were baptized, they shouldn't go to hell because they were indians.  Ignorance and insensitivity laced with a healthy dose of arrogance.

      •  FWIW (6+ / 0-)

        SarahLee, we've been living in Mexico for nearly four years, no plans to return north.

        Down here in villages we see people (mostly of indigenous blood although Catholic after a fashion) living much better lives than the US media portray).  People have open faces, all greet one another, little children play happily and so much more.

        One thing I've fantasized about, dumb or not, is the idea of young US native people coming on vision quests down here.

        If we can do anything to jumpstart such a thing, get in touch de pronto.  Si hablo espanol.  My contact info is on my page.

        Meanwhile condolences, beyond words, sorry red waves of  the earth bleeding as we all go through a sorrow not unlike watching one's mother die a painful, protracted death.  

        Viva Mexico.

        •  Interesting idea. (4+ / 0-)

          Would love to see what Carter thinks of it.

          I think that kids/people surrounded by poverty, but bombarded by consumerism on TV and radio have an especially hard time not being angry about what they are "missing out on."  The anger can channel into fighting for change or can be a knife ripping into self-esteem on the inside.

          During my 8 months of unemployment, I went into debt to keep my Internet connection and satellite TV on - it was stupid but I justified it by needing the Internet to job hunt and fill in unemployment forms and TV as the entertainment that let me not think about my situation for a few hours.  But then, I wound up reading a comment from someone rejoicing in being "disconnected" for a year and remembered that I too had actually relished the time I had to read and visit with people when I did without phones and electricity for 8 years.  

          I was talking about this with some folks here and they were amazed that someone would choose to not have electricity.

          I just don't know what the answer is - other than what Carter said elsewhere - meaningful work.  Work that allows you to care for yourself and you family, without constant fear of "not having enough" or the humiliation of applying for help.

          •  this is (3+ / 0-)

            such a hard one to answer.

            The reservations - or shall we go with prison camps - are only going to yield a certain quality of life by definition.  It is absurd to the extreme that people on the outside suppose the people might just "pull themselves up by the bootstraps."  

            This is why I think a trip to Mexico might be worthwhile.  There exists a myth that Mexico was totally conquered, but up in the mountains are indigenous peoples whom Mexicans describe as "not a part of this world."  Living without electricity, phones, any of the trappings, doing what they've been doing for millenia.  

            As for the Mestizo majority, they are overall (excepting really large cities which are the same almost anywhere) much happier societies than up north.  People have known one another for hundreds of years.  We have been in neighborhoods where we had no fear of theft; everyone knew everyone else.  We unfortunately had to move from a house last summer which we really liked; we never locked a door in five months despite hundreds of people around.  The people, our neighbors explained, looked out for us.  Once we moved to another house not facing a neighborhood, someone abruptly ran in and took a laptop... and everyone in the neighborhood knew who did it (local petty crime family).  It is amazing what life is like, when people have known all the families in town for hundreds/thousands of years.

            It would be necessary to pick the situation with a lot of care, but I think it would just blow the minds of kids from the rez, as to how life can go down here.

            Feel free to email me anytime.  It would be an honor.

      •  Bless you for your work, SarahLee. (4+ / 0-)

        It makes me so sad that you have to do it.

        I will make the calls and write the emails to do what I can to let others know how dark the future looks for these precious young people.

        They deserve opportunity and hope, not despair and death.

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