Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Like a Stake in the Heart"

Gang member at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota.

Samuel, an adopted youth at the Pine Ridge Reservation, was a 14-year-old ninth grader when this photo was taken earlier this year. Samuel was adopted by a Pine Ridge family who has many other adopted children from dysfunctional families on the reservation. Through the Dakota Youth Project, a sponsor from Germany is sending monthly support for Samuel. The Pine Ridge school dropout rate is reported to be 70% or more. I wonder how Samuel is doing.

THIS article is a sad commentary on gang problems on American Indian reservations, while THIS article is specifically about the Pine Ridge reservation.

Vic Glover, a Vietnam vet (combat medic), journalist, and Pine Ridge resident, has written a series of short essays on life on the reservation entitled "Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge." From his book:

"People out there in the American world don't know how pitiful America's First Citizens really are....They don't know that 67 percent of the population here lives in third-world poverty, and half the people over forty-five suffer from diabetes. People don't seem to know or care that there is more than 85 percent unemployment and an incredible rate of alcoholism and dysfunction, infant mortality, and teenage suicide. The enormity of the problems are as staggering as America's neglect. Like a stake in the heart....When America is having a hard time, life then becomes especially difficult for many of her native people....We rely on each other, get by and keep the fire lit."

And THIS site details the story of troubled Pine Ridge youth. No wonder there is so much despair.

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