Pretty Bird Woman House – first and last call

( – promoted by navajo)

This the annual fundraising diary for the Pretty Bird Woman House, a women’s shelter on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which the Daily Kos community has supported since 2007, when we came together and not only prevented the shelter from going under, but bought it an entire house. It was an incredible thing to see this community do. This is a good time to remember that, to remind ourselves of what we can accomplish when we unite instead of fight.

Christmas TiPi Pictures, Images and Photos

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history of our involvement with the shelter, I will direct you to a post that Andy T wrote on the Pretty Bird Woman House blog, which pretty much summed up our efforts then.

the shelter, which includes a general (tax deductible) fund for the shelter, and a separate one for gift cards for the staff (not deductible).

This year, for reasons I will tell you about in the update below, I’m just doing a ChipIn for the staff. General donations (the tax deductible kind) can still be made by check, but not on-line.

I apologize for the lateness of this appeal, but like a lot of folks I’ve had a hard time this year. But there is still time to donate. It takes only a few minutes to donate via ChipIn or write a check. This year you might also want to add a couple of kids to your Christmas list. More on that below.

Shelter News

This has been a big year for the shelter, in good and bad ways.

First the good. The tribe has given the shelter a $250,000 grant to start a sexual assault response team and develop education programs. The shelter then hired 2 new staff for this purpose. They work in the Tribal Council building in Ft. Yates. Can’t get much better cooperation from the top than that! The grant signaled the tribe’s recognition of the shelter as a permanent fixture on the reservation. If you contributed to the fund drive, you can therefore be confident that your one-time donation did some permanent good.

Second, the not-so-good. Georgia Little Shield, the shelter’s director, resigned her position as of December 11 due to health issues that were becoming more and more difficult for her to manage with the kind of stress a women’s shelter director endures. She is probably going to be on Social Security disability and Medicaid.  

Right now, Jackie Brown Otter, whose sister is the shelter’s namesake, is working as the interim director until they get a new one.

A few months before Georgia resigned, a key advocate resigned, and the staff member who did the bookkeeping is also leaving. In this case, the old bookkeeper, who also did advocacy and intake work, will return.

As a result of all of this turnover, as well as my new full-time job as an office supervisor at the Census, which came after a very tumultuous year for me personally, I haven’t been in as much contact with the shelter as I had been in the past, and I haven’t been aggressive about holiday fundraising either. I apologize folks. It has just been a tough year.

So, this year I have posted a ChipIn for the staff gift cards only. I took the other ChipIn down after I realized that not only did the new staff not know what a ChipIn was, but it was not properly set up for a new director.

BUT IT’S NOT TOO LATE! If you want to donate to the shelter’s general fund, you can still send a check.

The address is:

Pretty Bird Woman House

P.O. Box 596

McLaughlin, SD 57642

You can also send clothing and other donations to that address using the USPS. To use other delivery services use this address:

211 First Ave W. McLaughlin, SD 57642.

There are four shelter staff aside from Jackie, and two volunteers. That is six people. Plus Jackie that’s seven. Plus Georgia, eight. I did a poll in this diary the first 2 days I posted it, and opinion was nearly unanimous that we should just divide what’s collected among them all. So that’s what will happen with your donation.

Georgia’s not-so-merry Christmas

Even with her terrible back pain, Georgia is now regretting not waiting a couple of more weeks to resign because with her husband being unemployed, there is now no money for Christmas presents for the children she is fostering – two grandchildren and two step nieces, all girls except for the two year old, ranging in age from 2 to 17.

So, if you are so inclined, you could do some last minute Christmas shopping for the kids. I will send her a gift card in any case. I asked Georgia what kinds of things the kids like. She sent me the following email:


Oh The 6 year old any thing tinker bell, the 9 year old any thing Hanna Montana, the 2 year old boy Cars or riding toys he has none. The 17 year old any make up such eye make up eye shadows (brown and Plum) and mascara black eye liner black. Really poor on make up she is.

The Tribe where i live lost there low energy money so those of us who did get that last year will not be getting help with propane, Man if its not one thing its another. I want to just scream.

As you can see, Christmas is not Georgia’s only problem. If you’d like to do some last minute shopping for her kids you can send the gifts to:

Georgia Little Shield P.O. Box 292 Isabel SD 57633.

(the post box number means you have to use the USPS, so I would recommend the flat rate Priority Mail boxes given the late date).

I will have the gift card ChipIn up until COB Tuesday to give anyone who still wants to donate one more chance, and then I’ll get the gift cards after work and send them off Express Mail.

Remember, if you want a tax-deductible donation, you can also send a check to the shelter.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Lets Honor Joe Biden’s Family Like this

( – promoted by navajo)

Yesterday, Clammyc’s diary on the Daily Kos If not for Biden, she (and many other women) may be dead, which is about Biden’s authorship of Violence Against Women Act and a wrenching case of domestic violence from the 1970s, gave me an idea.



Since the Violence Against Women Act is what funds women’s shelters, among other things, and since Senator Biden just lost his mother-in-law, Bonny Jean Jacobs, why don’t we purchase a furnace for the Pretty Bird Woman House shelter in her memory?

Considering that Sarah Palin wants Alaskan women to buy their own rape kits and is against abortion even in case of rape or incest, and John McCain’s pathetic record on women’s issues buying Pretty Bird Woman House a new furnace also draws a stark contrast between our values, shared by the Obama/Biden ticket, and the McCain/Palin horror show.  

So what do you say? Are you in for say $5.

So, in gratitude for Biden’s work for women’s causes, lets honor his family and thank him for his authorship of the Violence Against Women Act by buying a furnace for a women’s shelter in Bonny Jean Jacobs’ name.

A furnace is the only big ticket item Pretty Bird Woman House still needs and it will run about $5,000 (we’ve already jumped up to over $700 of that) – the  board didn’t notice that the furnace was in poor condition when it purchased the house. Since winters in South Dakota can get to 20 below, pretty soon they’re going to really notice how poorly the furnace is working.

So, what do you say? Can you ChipIn something in the Biden family’s name? Even $5 is great, since we have so many people in this community.

I’ll have the shelter send an acknowledgement to Senator Biden when it’s all over.  

Pretty Bird Woman House Needs a Coat of Paint +

( – promoted by navajo)

This diary is an update on the Pretty Bird Woman House and a request for a few small donations. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, it’s a women’s shelter on the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that the netroots came together to help in its time of need.  

Anyway, the shelter has been operating for about a month, and wonderful things have been happening since they closed on the house in February.

One exciting development has been that many members of the McLaughlin community have gone from being suspicious to being supporters. That’s one reason we’re raising money right now: a youth group from a local church as volunteered to paint the house.

More below the fold.

The Pretty Bird Woman House is Up and Running!

As I said above, the shelter officially opened for business about a month ago.

Despite the fact that they haven’t been able to get the fence up due to an incredible amount of inclement weather, it has been full.  Until the fence is installed (which it should be by the end of the month) the staff are taking women who feel that their spouses might stalk them to another one farther away. The security system was installed a while ago, so the women who do stay at the house are safe anyway. The local police department has also been increasing its patrols around the house.

In April, Pretty Bird Woman House also co-sponsored a domestic violence workshop for all residents of the reservation, which was the first time something like that has happened there.

In addition to being extremely successful as a conference, afterward two  elder women approached Georgia with the idea of doing talks at local schools on what love really is and developing self-respect, so the girls especially don’t think they have to put up with any kind of abuse. This group is still in the planning stages, but I thought it was a wonderful indication of the ripple effect that the shelter can have on the reservation.

A couple of weeks ago, a youth group from local church approached Georgia with an offer of volunteer time this summer. As you will see from the photos below, since the house is sorely in need of a coat of paint, she asked them to paint it.

Even Georgia was was surprised at how badly the paint is peeling when she took a closer look at it.

peeling paint

Photobucket



The youth group will be painting the house July 8th – 11th.

Since this church doesn’t have affluent members, and therefore can’t send housepaint along with their kids, I have started a fundraiser for the paint and painting supplies.

So far we have $175.01. To buy about 20 gallons of paint and brushes, scrapers, etc., I figure we’ll need about $800 more. That’s only 80 people giving $10 each, or 40 giving $20 each. I know people have been stretched thin by donating to the campaigns and $4 a gallon gas, but this is really just the price of a bottle of wine. So how about it?

You can donateat the ChipIn page here,or by clicking the ChipIn widget at the Pretty Bird Woman House blog here

A few more words about community support

As some of you might remember, when the Pretty Bird Woman House board was in the process of buying the house, the City of McLaughlin, which is a non-Indian town in the middle of the Reservation, passed an ordinance mandating that all non-profits that were sheltering people get a permit first. This was in response to problems with a homeless shelter, but it also affected the PBWH. The first Town Council meeting was tense, and comments by a few Council members seemed to have racial overtones. We were worried. I diaried that here.

However, afterward the Mayor and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) came out publicly in support of the shelter. By the next meeting, the Council made a 360 degree turnaround, and unanimously approved the permit for the shelter.

All of that made me wonder how the community would respond afterward.

When Georgia told me what has been going on, I felt as if she were telling me about some Disney movie.

The first time they needed their lawn cut, a woman from the Lutheran church, which had been the owner of the house, came over and mowed it herself.

The next time it needed to be cut, the MAYOR himself showed up on his riding mower. Heh heh, when’s the last time your mayor cut YOUR lawn?

And, then we had the youth group volunteering to help as well.

So, let’s buy some house paint!

Go here.

Since more than 1,000 people donated to the first fundraiser, I figure this one should be a cinch.

Another subject: anybody have any advice?

Since I started this project, everything I see turns out to be an illustration of a larger problem.

Georgia is having such severe back pain now that a doctor at a private clinic suggested she go on disability. Why? The Indian Health Service is refusing to approve a CAT scan or any other diagnostic test so the doctors can tell exactly what is wrong with her. Is it a disc issue, or arthritis, or something worse? If we leave it up to the IHS, she’ll never find out.

Because the IHS has refused to either permit her to be properly diagnosed or send her to a chiropractor, or give her the proper amount of pain medication Georgia finally went to a private clinic, where at least they would give her an x-ray (don’t know the results).

Just as bad, the IHS will only give her a prescription for a few pain killers at a time. That means that she has to drive 2 hours to the IHS office, or put up with more pain. If she doesn’t get proper medical attention soon, she might not be able to walk, in which case she might have go on disability anyway. Since Georgia lives for her job, that would be terrible on a number of levels.

I know some of you will have some expert opinions I can pass on to her.

I wanted to say “another WTF moment brought to you by George Bush,” but it’s just typical IHS behavior.

So the larger issue is the IHS’s terrible medical care. We can see how local doctors recognize that Medicaid and Medicare both provide better service. How can we let this go on?

I advised Georgia to call Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin’s office to see if one of the LAs there can help. The Congresswoman has been so supportive of the shelter, even buying it a washer and dryer, that I’m sure they’ll  help.

Can anyone else think of something else Georgia could do to get proper medical care?

What she had wanted to do was get Aflac or some other type of supplementary health insurance for the entire shelter staff just for these types of things, but their federal grant doesn’t cover that cost. She’s going to apply for a foundation grant for that, but that’s a crap shoot sometimes.

So, if anyone has any ideas, let me know, and I’ll pass them on to Georgia.

Again, thanks so much for all your support. Now I wish we could also help Georgia get some decent medical care.

And, don’t forget. The shelter needs a new coat of paint. No contribution is too small not to be greatly appreciated. You can contribute here.

If you like to shop, think shampoo and diapers!

Pretty Bird Woman House Update: It’s a GO!

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross posted from the Daily Kos

First of all, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all the Kossacks and other members of the netroots community for your commitment to the survival of the Pretty Bird Woman House.  Helping this shelter has been one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done, and some of that has to do with the outpouring of caring and compassion that I witnessed while I was doing this project.

This morning I received an email informing me that the McLaughlin City Council had unanimously approved the shelter’s petition to operate in the house it wants to purchase. This was a wonderful accomplishment given some initial misgivings that some of the City Council Members had expressed.  

For those who haven’t been following the story of the Pretty Bird Woman House, instead of pointing you to the numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS)diaries that Kossacks have written on the subject since May, I will simply direct you to the Pretty Bird Woman House blog, since it contains links to many of those diaries in addition to the essays that Andy T and I wrote as part of the fundraiser.

Here’s the situation in a nutshell: On December 28th, a full month early, we met our goal of raising the $70,000 that we figured the shelter needed for a new house and security system. By that time, Georgia Little Shield, the director, had placed a bid on a house near the police station. The closing would have taken place on January 4th.

Unfortunately, while all this was happening, the City of McLaughlin had passed an ordinance that required nonprofits seeking to establish a shelter or boarding house in a residential neighborhood to get the City’s permission first. This action was in response to drunk and disorderly conduct by the men in a homeless shelter in another neighborhood,

On January 7th, the City Council held a hearing on the shelter’s petition. There was some initial opposition to the shelter by some of the Council members and neighborhood residents, so they put off voting on the issue in order to gather more information and give people more time to consider the issue.

This made us all very uneasy, and I for one was waiting on pins and needles for the final decision.

But as with everything involved in this project, the best in people finally came out.

Last night, the Council unanimously voted to approve the shelter’s request. Unlike the first meeting, only positive remarks were made about the shelter staff and its future residents. As Georgia just told me:

At that meeting, everybody was for us, nobody spoke up against us.

This included the Chief of Police, who testified that the police really need the shelter to help them with women who are victims of domestic violence.

So, in the end, it seems that the mayor recognized that the shelter’s opponents just needed more information, and that his move to postpone the vote was a wise one. Here’s what he told the Rapid City Journal today.

“I think it’s going to be good. I think their hearts are in the right place,” Dumdei said of shelter officials. “Everyone’s trying to do what’s right. We just wanted to make sure that we had public input and everybody understands it.” …snip…

Dumdei said it was important to give citizens time to ask questions and feel comfortable with the planned relocation of the shelter, which is the only domestic-violence sanctuary on the Standing Rock reservation.

Amnesty International also provided a letter in support of the shelter, which the mayor cited at the meeting. Here is part of that letter (sorry I don’t have a link, it was emailed to me):

Programs run by Native American and Alaska Native women are vital in ensuring the protection and long-term support of Indigenous women who have experienced sexual violence. Shelters operated by Native American women are particularly important in order to provide the culturally appropriate supportive environment needed.  However, lack of funding is a widespread problem all over the US, including in South Dakota – and in many locations no such support is available. In our report, we highlighted the work of Pretty Bird Woman House, a sexual assault and domestic violence program on the Standing Rock Reservation. At the time of Amnesty International’s report in April 2007 Pretty Bird Woman House did not have funding for direct services for its clients, but helped women to access services off the Reservation. Amnesty International believes that it is imperative that the Reservation have its own shelter.

….snip….

The support that Pretty Bird Woman House has received from individuals all over the US is indicative of the response that Amnesty International has seen to this issue in general. Many people feel deeply touched by the injustices suffered for decades by Native American women, and want to help. Authorities at all levels are responding as well – at the U.S. Senate level, legislation will be introduced within the next few weeks. In Oklahoma, state laws ensuring the availability of rape kits for all women have already been passed.

The advocates, who have been running Pretty Bird Woman House for the past years with few funds but a lot of determination, have been fighting alone for too long. It is time that we stand up together and say no to violence against women – and time to support a shelter which will make all the difference in the world to women at a time when a helping hand is desperately needed.

Today, they also issued a press release that contained this information and thanked the City Council for approving the shelter.

It seems to me that the netroots worked really well in tandem with Amnesty International on this whole project, taking up the call they issued about the shelter in their report, United States of America: Maze of injustice: The failure to protect indigenous women from violence as its own cause.

On Friday, Georgia is going to set a closing date on the house. When I find out exactly what it is, I’ll post it on the blog.

Fundraiser Update

Grand total of the money we raised: $87,000.

People have also sent hundreds of pounds of clothes. SallyCat alone sent 350 pounds from a drive and party she conducted in San Francisco.

The shelter is also going to be receiving a flurry of small checks because a retiree in Florida who read the Rapid City Journal articles asked that everyone who attended his birthday party last week send checks to the shelter in lieu of presents for him. Awwww…

The official house fundraiser ends tomorrow. I will be putting up a new ChipIn with no goal amount for people who still want to donate.

Work left to be done

One snafu has come up. We were basing our estimate of the cost of a security system on the one the neighboring shelter has. Bad idea. For a system that has 24 hour monitoring, the estimated cost was $24,000. Yipes! And they will still need a fence as well.

This means that the security system and fence will eat up a lot of the money they had set aside for furniture and a washer and dryer. So, when I spoke with Georgia today, she gave me a new wish list.

I know most people have given all they can, but I also know from experience that other people will want to know how they can help some more. So this is for them (I don’t want guilt trip everyone else, you all have been amazing). Some of these are replacements for items that didn’t hold up too well either in the move or in storage.

So for anyone so inclined to buy what I will call housewarming gifts, here’s what the shelter needs.

Wishlist

washer and dryer

8 bunk bed sets, and sheets to go on them

couch and chairs

television and stand

dining room set (the one they had collapsed in the move)

pillows

full and twin-size sheets

8 dressers (2 for each bedroom)

dishes and related kitchen supplies

Again, Kossacks, on behalf of the shelter staff, I want to extend my deepest gratitude for all your support, compassion, and kind words.

You know, a lot of us are tired of the sniping and griping that has been going on around here about the candidates, but take break from that for a second and think about what you have all done to help hundreds of women and children on the Standing Rock Reservation. It’s incredible. Pat yourselves on the back.

One more note considering this is a Democratic blog. I want to pubically thank Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) for her support. She spoke out publicly in support of the shelter when there was opposition on the City Council, has visited it at least twice, and whenever anyone calls her office about it, her staff members are extremely helpful. This is exactly the kind of commitment we need from our representatives in Congress. Thank you!

Photobucket

Pretty Bird Woman House Update: Why Isn’t Anything Easy in Indian Country?

(crossposted on the Daily Kos and Street Prophets under betson08 and Docudharma under PiledHigherand Deeper – I guess I have an unstable identity!)

I want to update everyone who has been involved in the Pretty Bird Woman House fundraiser on the situation with the house purchase.

After you read this you might also ask: Why isn’t anything easy in Indian Country?

While we were running this fundraiser, the City Council of McLaughlin, which exists as a separate entity within the boundaries of the Standing Rock Reservation, passed an ordinance requiring that any nonprofit wishing to establish a boardinghouse or shelter in a residential area get the approval of the City Council first.

This means that  even though Pretty Bird Woman House could have closed on the house on January 4th, they had to wait for a Council meeting on January 7th.

Everyone was certain that after hearing about the shelter, the City Council would just say “of course you can” to their request.

Not so.  

Unfortunately, Georgia Little Shield, the shelter director, was attending a mandatory federal training associated with their new grant, so she was unable to go to the hearing. However, six representatives of PBWH and neighboring shelters did attend, including Jackie Brown Otter and a lawyer from the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Someone from the Lutheran church, the owner of the house the shelter bid on, also attended in support of the shelter.

The new ordinance that is affecting the shelter was passed in response to complaints about the men residing in a homeless shelter in another neighborhood, since they were making nuisances of themselves. While I can’t blame the residents for wanting drunken men off of their lawns, the measure does seem draconian in relation to the size of the problem it sought to address.

In general, reports from people who attended the meeting indicated that the ratio of support to opposition on the Council was about 60/40. Instead of voting on it that night, however, they decided to take the full 30 days allowed by the ordinance, and have another hearing.

The problem they are having, which has definite racial overtones, generally seems to stem from the fact that some of the members of the community could not conceptually distinguish between a homeless shelter, which houses men with emotional and drug problems, and a women’s shelter, which houses women who are escaping abuse, and want nothing more than a safe place to stay and to be as unobtrusive as possible. This is quite the opposite of a homeless shelter.

One reason for hope for a positive resolution was that Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth publicly came out in favor of the shelter in a recent Rapid City Journal articleabout the shelter. By the way, that paper also carried a very nice article about the shelter and the netroots fundraising efforts, which you can see here.

The Congresswoman seems to have become a champion of this cause, and programs to assist domestic violence victims in Indian Country in general. Kudos and applause to her!

And, without trying to dictate to the city council, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., nonetheless has made it clear that her heart is with the shelter as it searches for a permanent home.

“I’m not going to get involved in that (council vote),” Herseth Sandlin said earlier this week. “But I do hope that our efforts in making greater resources available to those isolated reservations will be a factor in the decision making — to know that a member of their congressional delegation is paying particular attention and wanting to be partners in their effort to have a safer community.”



Herseth Sandlin visited the Pretty Bird Woman House twice last year and supported Congressional bills with additional financial resources for law-enforcement and domestic-violence programs on reservations.

But she went further. The article notes that after visiting the burned shelter back in October:  

…Herseth Sandlin returned to McLaughlin with Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, as well as congressional staffers. They stopped by the shelter apartment, which had by then been abandoned, and met with federal and local law-enforcement officials, shelter representatives and Dumdei.

After the visit, Dicks inserted language into an omnibus appropriations bill expressing his concern that “methamphetamine use, violence against women and other serious crimes have reached epidemic levels in certain areas of Indian Country,” and directing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to increase the level of law enforcement and criminal prosecution in such areas.

That doesn’t provide more money specifically for Standing Rock but directs BIA to focus more resources on isolated areas where law officers are scarce. Herseth Sandlin said the October Congressional stop was part of the inspiration for adding that language into the spending bill. It also helped raise awareness in Congress about the issues of domestic violence and inadequate law enforcement on isolated reservations, she said.

“I think it has been very important to keep raising awareness about the epidemic of various crimes, especially domestic violence, and the inadequate staffing levels of BIA officers,” she said.

Again, thank you Congresswoman Herseth!

Additionally, the Mayor, who is in somewhat of a bind here, was quoted in the same article:

Mayor Ron Dumdei said this week that he and council members appreciate the value of the shelter but also must consider the concerns of members of the community. Some citizens worry that the shelter could again be victimized by vandals and pose other potential threats to the community in its new location.

“I understand their need for a shelter, but I also have to be sensitive to the other community folks who have concerns about it,” Dumdei said. “We’ll do what we can to make things right.”

He seems to have good intentions here, so that’s another good sign.

Another issue that arose during the meeting was what seems to have been a misconception about the local police authority to arrest Indians. Because McLaughlin has a white police department operating inside an Indian reservation, according to one opponent of the shelter, the white police officers have no jurisdiction, so it wouldn’t matter whether or not the shelter is close to a police station (was that a wtf moment for you? It was for me).

This is plainly not true. There are jurisdictional issues that make it difficult to hold people, but they can be arrested, as the Mayor’s statement to the Rapid City Journal reflected:

Jurisdiction issues between the tribe, federal agencies and state and local law enforcement officers create problems as well, Dumdei said. Non-Native officers who apprehend tribal lawbreakers may only hold them until they can be picked up by the federal officers, Dumdei said.

The jurisdictional issues make it difficult for nontribal law enforcement to be effective, he said.

“It creates some problems here. But we’re trying to work it out,” Dumdei said. “What we want to do is provide a safe community. It’s a complicated issue, but we’re going to do the best with what we’ve got.”

Unfortunately, though, the original argument was not quashed at the meeting. In any case, as Georgia told me by phone yesterday, there has not been one case in South Dakota of a batterer attacking a women’s shelter. What happened to the shelter was vandalism, and we do not know the race of the vandals. The shelter needs to be in a safe area for the safety of the women inside it, just in case they are stalked, as well as to to deter  vandals, but not because any batterers are likely to attack the shelter.

During the upcoming 30 days, the Council will hold another town meeting and give Georgia a chance to talk about the shelter. That will also give the women’s shelter advocates in the area some time to educate the residents about exactly what a shelter is and does.

One thing IS certain. WE WILL HAVE A SAFE HAVEN FOR WOMEN ON THE STANDING ROCK RESERVATION, NO MATTER WHAT. Compassion WILL win.

Georgia also told me that one other thing they will immediately do is create a Plan B for purchase of a house. Since they could not close on a house on Jan.4th, as originally planned, they are now technically out of compliance with the grant that provides for operational expenses for the house. Thank God for the fundraiser. If they have to renovate some other house farther away from town, they will now be able to. Lets hope that doesn’t happen.

Right now, we’re not asking for letters to anyone in McLaughlin, except thank yous to Congressional Reps. Herseth and Dicks for their support. I think it is entirely possible that the members of the Council who oppose the shelter will come to their senses after they have been educated about what a women’s shelter really is, especially with more press coverage of the situation. This may just be another bureaucratic delay.

While I wait, what I am going to do is research the history behind these  towns on Indian reservations in the Dakotas. Some of the social relationships that have been described to me since I have become involved with this project are so oddly 19th century that sometimes I have difficulty overcoming my disbelief at what I’m hearing. I need to educate myself on this.

And things are just as messed up at the federal level too, which reinforces these problems.  Senator Dorgan has developed a concept paper with ideas for legislation to improve law enforcement in Indian Country. We really need to change federal laws that create conditions where people are treated differently by law enforcement just because of their race. You can read that paper here

Senator Dorgan is requesting comments on this paper.

Well, there you have it. This situation still embodies what Native American women face when they try to make change in their community. I feel so great to be able to say that now they’ve got the netroots behind them.

P.S.You can still get lots more information, and until the end of the month donate too, at the PBWH blog

Pretty Bird Woman House Update: YOU are buying THIS house!

( – promoted by navajo)

I thought I’d give you an update on what was going on with the fundraiser for this shelter. Georgia Little Shield, the director, has used the money we have raised so far to place a bid on the house you see in the photos below.

We need donations urgently right now since there was only enough money for a really low bid, so that makes things still a bit tenuous. And then there will be closing costs and a security system. But even though we haven’t sealed the deal yet, we’re coming very close!

The amazing part of this project is that the individual efforts of a bunch of bloggers are making such a big difference to a group of women. This is what a community is really about.  And were else can you see donations doing something so huge so fast?  

Here are the photos of the house. Isn’t it great!

Front View:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Living Room:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kitchen, View 1

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kitchen, View 2

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Dining Room:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

There is also a huge basement, which will house a children’s playroom, and a small thrift shop to support the shelter, and has great general potential.

The next large item is a security system. With security cameras. A good one (which is a must in this situation) is at least $7,000 installed. And then we’ll need a fence. That’s going to be another large chunk of change. Since this is a one story house, and we don’t want batterers to try to get into those bedrooms at night, the fence is vital in addition to the security system. We don’t want a repeat of the theft and vandalism either.

If you haven’t donated yet, you can make a huge difference right now because they’re at a crucial point in the house purchase process, and things are still a little shaky. Go here to donate and get all the info you could possibly want on the shelter if you have missed the story up until now.

There will be needs after the house purchase, which is why I am keeping the goal at $70,000 despite the fact that of the 2 houses available, they’re bidding on the lower-priced one.

Because of the prior theft they’re also going to need a TV, VCR, DVD player, and the entertainment center to put them on. Boy it really sucks that they got so much stuff stolen! They’re also going to need a washer and dryer, as well as new dressers, 2 more bunk beds, and 2 more double beds, since more women and children will be housed here than in the other shelter. They also will need extra couches and chairs because the living room is so big, and the outside of the house needs a new coat of paint.

Those items are all important, but the money to seal the deal for the house and buy the security system is the most urgent.

So please everyone, keep passing the word. We are SO close.

I want to raise $10K more by Christmas. If the sellers accept the current bid that much will cover closing costs and the security system so the women can move right in. If they don’t accept the bid, it will allow them to increase it slightly and still cover closing costs. In any case, we’re SO close to this being a huge netroots coup for the shelter!

P.S. The shelter also just received another federal grant. If we can get this house, that grant will pay for utilities, food and other expenses. It’s also funding another advocate. So, we’ve got great long-term viability here, we just need to help them with their infrastructure! They are also planning a domestic violence conference for April that will be free for all Standing Rock residents. Georgia just never quits, even in the middle of all this house chaos!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(by Tigana)