Working that Skirt: A $500 Challenge for Okiciyap

“What skirt,” you say?

Yesterday, volunteers for Okiciyap (we help) the Isabel Community, put the skirt on the trailer.

AND…we have a $500 challenge grant, good to tomorrow at midnight,

This donor is asking all the small donors to get together now….can you pitch in $5, $10, $15? It adds up quickly, believe me.

Right now, by my estimates we only have about $120 toward that challenge (correct me in the comments if I’m wrong). We have until midnight on Monday to qualify for the match. Can we do it drop by drop?

And when that challenge is up, another Kossack stepped forward with another challenge for next week…..

Here’s a photo update so you can see what your money is doing. Yesterday volunteers installed the skirt on the trailer.

Here they are:

Yes, everyone wants to help!

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Cutting the wood to size:

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There they go, working that skirt:

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Okiciyap is truly on the brink of success!

Won’t you help us get over this last hump, or forward this diary to someone who can?

(If you are financially pinched right now – which was me until a month ago –  please don’t feel guilty for not being able to send funds. You can help us by spreading the word and posting this story on your Facebook pages etc. We greatly appreciate ALL help here!)

We’re almost there. There is SUCH need on this reservation – 90% unemployment in winter, high youth suicide rates, and federal cuts in food stamps have further pinched the population.  A grassroots community group has come together to confront these issues – lets help them help themselves.

YOUR DONATION IS TAX-DEDUCTIBLE

If you would prefer to send a check:

Georgia Little Shield, Board Chair

Okiciyap

PO Box 172

225 W. Utah St

Isabel SD57633

So, here’s what YOU have helped Okiciyap do so far:

1. Host a Christmas dinner, where the members provided a healthy dinner and a safe and sober place to gather and open presents they had bought for the children, who otherwise had none. They even bought a Christmas tree with the funds:

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2. Move the trailer 30 miles to Isabel. Here’s moving day:

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3. And JUST YESTERDAY, the community CAME TOGETHER to help get the building into place. While they had to pay a professional plumber to install new pipes and hook them to the sewer line and an electrician to install electric boxes and get it going, the community came out to build the stairs and install new doors. So, this isn’t just a group of determined women, they have gotten the community involved. SUCCESS!!!

Group of volunteers

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The stairs

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Electric box

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Supplies for outside work

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Volunteer Ted installing the door

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Missing toilet in the bathroom

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Lights are on!

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Kitchen Faucet installed

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Look at all the room in there:

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These kids thank you

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P.S. Georgia is working through  severe, and chronic, back pain right now, exacerbated by abhorrent IHS health care. I figure if she can do all that in such pain, I can write this little diary and help this project succeed.

Georgia at Netroots Nation Austin

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Cold, Hungry and Sick: Winter in Indian Country

( – promoted by navajo)

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I hate the winter. I especially hate the darkness and the cold. Yes, I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. But I also have a warm apartment and a job, even if I am underemployed right now….

But I’m only SAD….add unemployment, terrible housing, hunger pangs and a chronic health condition or two to this cold and darkness, and you have winter misery on many an Indian Reservation in this the richest country in the world.

On the reservations in the Great Plains and many other places in this country, the unemployment rate hits 80 or 90 percent in the winter.  Saying that the housing is God awful is an understatement; homes leak like a sieve and the only thing people have only to try to keep out the cold are sheets of plastic. The unemployed and the elderly in particular don’t have enough money to heat their homes in the winter. That’s why navajo began the propane drive last year.

So, people are freezing cold in the winter, but they’re also hungry, and tend to have  health problems that aren’t helped any by the hunger and cold.

More below the orange squiggle…and action you can take if this travesty infuriates you as much as it does me.  At the end of the day, this is an action diary.

While I was writing this I started to think about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and whether it’s really aware of the plight of the people at the bottom 1% of the 99%. So then a post came through on my Facebook friend’s page written by Deborah White Plume about this very issue. She’s giving permission to use it, and someone is promising to read it the Occupy Cincinatti General Assembly meeting.

We have a long way to go to reclaim justice for everyone in this country:

I will believe the occupiers everywhere in their statements that they want their American Constitution upheld when they begin to speak the message that their Constitution, Article 6, includes Treaties are the Supreme Law and start to press their American Government and American People to honor the Ft Laramie Treaty with our Lakota Nation, Cheyenne Nation and other Nations that signed it.

The occupiers everywhere when they start to do this, then they are walking their talk. Until then, it is empty words as far as I am concerned and by their silence on this situation they are participating in the oppression of our people and their silence contributes to the genocide of my nation.

We are the poorest of the poor, our death rate is the highest, our suicide rate is the highest, our unemployment has been at 85% for the past five decades, we die young from curable illnesses, our water is contaminated, and American people send their $$ to other countries.

We are the Third World right here in the USA, created by the American Government and the continued Silence of the American People. We do not want your old used clothes. We want your ACTIVE, LOUD support for the enforcement of our Ft Laramie Treaty. -Debra White Plume

Cold

See navajo’s most recent diary with pictures of the people helped by the propane fundraiser last year, as well as info if you want to buy some more this year.

For more information on the “cold” issue, see her other diaries too:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

You will be really well-informed just by reading those diaries…

Hungry

Many people reading this will have experienced hunger in their lifetimes, which may surprise you considering the demographics of this site. I know this because it comes up in the comments….

Researchers talk about hunger in terms of food insecurity. So, what is food insecurity?

Basically, food insecurity is not having enough food to meet basic needs. As you can imagine, food insecurity in general has been increasing across the U.S.

In 2009 to 2010, nationwide 20% of families with children had food hardship issues.

The Native American population is more likely to have food insecurity issues than the rest of the population. And households without children within that population tend to be even more food insecure. And it’s worse for people living in non-metropolitan areas. In the 1990s the rates were around 25%. I haven’t found more recent data but if you think about how it’s grown in the general population during that period, you will dread thinking about how food insecurity has grown in among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

And yet…

According to the Office of Minority Heath in HHS:

   

American Indian/Alaska Native women are 40% more likely than White women to be obese.

American Indian/Alaskan Natives are 1.6 times as likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic whites.

American Indian or Alaska Native adults (30.4%) were as likely as Black adults (30.8%) and less likely than White adults (40.9%) and Asian adults (62.8%) to be a healthy weight.

American Indian or Alaska Native women (29.4%) were less likely than Black women (36.6%) and more likely than White women (20.3%) and Asian women (5.8%) to be obese.

Actually, researchers have found a relationship between obesity/overweight and food insecurity.

It’s two sides of the same coin. You can imagine some of the reasons: poor people have access to less healthy food, whose concentrated fat and sugar are satiating but high in calories and low in nutritional value, there is often no or little fresh food available (this phenomenon is called a food desert, and it exists in many parts of the country), and where it is available, it’s more expensive.

I don’t know if you saw the 20/20 special Children of the Plains, but I notice the kid’s splotchy skin right away. That’s from poor nutrition.

Additionally, people who have to subsist eating lots of government commodities aren’t helped any in this regard, especially if they’re diabetic. Here’s the list of things provided under the government food program.

Sick: Health Disparities

Health disparities are serious differences in health access and outcomes experienced by racial, ethnic and sexual minorities.

For a good discussion and case studies on this issue and the relationship between  structural violence and poor health outcomes, see Dr. Paul Farmer’s book Pathologies of Power.

This is the health situation of the American Indian and Alaska Native population (IHS data)

American Indians and Alaska Natives die at higher rates than other Americans from tuberculosis (500% higher), alcoholism (514% higher), diabetes (177% higher), unintentional injuries (140% higher), homicide (92% higher) and suicide (82% higher). (Rates adjusted for misreporting of Indian race on state death certificates; 2004-2006 rates.)

The leading causes of death:  

Diseases of the heart, malignant neoplasm, unintentional injuries, diabetes mellitus, and cerebrovascular disease are the five leading causes of American Indian and Alaska Native deaths (2004-2006).

Dr David Jones cautions people to remember this when thinking about the reasons for health disparities among Native Americans:

The existence of disparities regardless of the underlying disease environment is actually a powerful argument against the belief that disparities reflect inherent susceptibilities of American Indian populations. Instead, the disparities in health status could arise from the disparities in wealth and power that have endured since colonization.  Such awareness must guide ongoing research and interventions if the disparities in health status between American Indians and the general population are ever to be eradicated.

Indirectly, he’s talking about structural violence.

Youth Suicide

One of the things that hunger, cold, and poverty can breed is hopelessness among the youth, especially those from families dealing with alcoholism, domestic violence and other problems. This has lead to astronomical suicide rates among the youth on many reservations.

1999-2007, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) adolescents and young adults had the highest unadjusted death rate per 100,000 population among other age groups and races/ethnicities.

American Indian/Alaska Native youths had substantially greater rates of suicide than young persons of other races.

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If you go to minute 39 in this hour long documentary, The Canary Effect you will find a good description of the causes of this. It’s a very well done film and worth the hour to see it (this is the full video). It also mentions a suicide pact among 10 youths on the Cheyenne River Reservation (minute 44)

HOPE

OK, there’s more than enough despair to go around. But there IS hope too, and it’s coming from people on the reservations.

You might now be either numb, outraged, a combination of the two, and wondering what you can do to help.  

We’ve been doing a few things around here…first, under navajo’s  incredible leadership, making these issues visible. You can support Native American Netroots by visiting the site, and commenting on the diaries.

You may be also familiar with the project that Kossacks made possible, Pretty Bird Woman House, which is the only women’s shelter on the Standing Rock Reservation. It’s still functioning, but without the shelter director, Georgia Little Shield, whose determination was so instrumental in getting us motivated to raise enough money for a house. If Georgia puts her mind to something, it happens.

Georgia resigned for health reasons, but now she’s doing better, and has become the Board president of a new grassroots organization called Okiciyap (we help) the Isabel Community, which just received its tax status as a 501 (c) 3 organization. They have started a food pantry  and want to  (start youth development programs, including a GED program and counseling. You see, Isabel is 30 miles from Eagle Butte and often the youth can’t get there for schooling or other needs.

I would like to make this and the propane drive our seasonal action this year.

Right now they are working out of a trailer lent them by a board member, but a 30×60 building has been donated but they have to bring it back to Isabel. Here’s the breakout of what that’s going to cost:

Moving the Building      

Transport 30 miles                            $7000.00

Building forms to set building down       $2500.00

Skirting of building and new ramp         $2500.00

Total                                             $12,000.00  

This will be done by a contractor that knows how to transport the building and is a professional and will set and put the building together when it gets to Isabel. The Build of the forms will be done by a cement contractor Jackson’s cement out of Timer Lake SD. The skirting and Ramps will be done by volunteers with the SD specification of disability Ramps.

One year Electricity                           $3000.00

One year water and sewer                   $780.00

One year Propane and Tank set up        $1800.00

Hook up to the to Town sewer and

Water pipes                               $2000.00

Total                                               $7580.00

We are requesting a one year utility for the building and when this year is up we should be able to have fund raised and applied for grants to run the building.  We will need to get hooked into the city sewer and water so we will have this done by the city.

Total amount requested      $19,580.00

Notice how they left out a computer and internet service? I rounded the figure to $20,000

While we raise this money don’t think they’re just sitting around. This is a serious grassroots organization:

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I have started a website Okiciyap, where you can go to get more information.

Here are their goals:

   

To provide educational, recreational, cultural, health and lifelong learning opportunities for youth and adults.

To offer educational advancement opportunities for adults and seniors.

To ensure that no one in Isabel or in surrounding areas goes hungry

If you would prefer to send a check:

Georgia Little Chair, Board Chair

Okiciyap

PO Box 172

225 W. Utah St

Isabel SD57633

They’re starting from scratch from the grassroots. Lets give them a hand.

No dough, but willingness to help? Write some diaries on this with us!

Pine Ridge Suicides on NY Times front page? Why Not?

I sent Autumn Two Bulls a message asking how many suicides on Pine Ridge in the last 6 months.  I noticed yesterday that Cornell University had a front page story in The New York Times after three suicides on their campus. All young people at risk for suicide deserve help love and suppport.  But why don’t young people on reservations get visibility when they face a crisis?  New York Times needs some education and awareness training.  

Suicide State Of Emergency On Pine Ridge Reservation



Tribal president declares state of emergency over increase in youth suicide attempts Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

PINE RIDGE — Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls will declare a suicide state of emergency for Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during a news conference at 1 p.m. today.

I want to share a personal story, because I hope people contacting the White House will save lives by giving hope. How many, I don’t know. I wouldn’t share it unless I thought it would be helpful to others. Suffice it to say, hope through someone to talk to would’ve been the difference between a 20 gauge shotgun to my head or not at 17.

I was 17 years old and my codependence combined with normal adolescent neurosis and feelings of abandonment left me feeling absolutely hopeless. I was raised in a good family and we had a good house, but New Years Eve of ’87 found me calling suicide hotlines – but nobody answered.

I further spiraled into hopelessness thinking, “New Years Eve, they know it’s a night of higher suicide rates, that’s it.” I made the decision to end my life.

It was really a strange feeling going into my parent’s room, putting a shell in a 20 gauge shotgun with tears streaming down my face, and pointing it to my head. I had taken the safety off. I just wanted someone to help me and talk to me. Nonetheless, I put enough pressure on the trigger for it to go off, but I saw something out of the right corner of my right eye. The gun didn’t fire and I was amazed that it didn’t. I put it to my head again and these thoughts seemed to be streamed into my mind, “If you do this, you’re one selfish bastard.”

I put the gun up.

I sponsored someone 13 years later, and when he committed suicide via an overdose I understood why. However, many were at his funeral and I still remember thinking, “I wish you could have seen then how many people care now.”

From a MySpace bulletin:


Autumn TwoBulls: Take a Stand Against Poverty & Suicide in Lakota Country join us in Calling The White House ~202 456 1111Share

Today at 3:13pm

Autumn TwoBulls: Take a Stand Against Poverty & Suicide in Lakota Country join us in Calling The White House ~202 456 1111 This is the time when my people should be treated fair and with justice.

Support the Sweet Grass Suicide Provention Program here in Pine Ridge Reservation

This is an epmidemic among Lakota Country please give our Lakota Youth a Voice for Hope!

Follow -Up Call In to White House Tuesday March 2, 2010

Help bring a voice to the Lakota Nation in the matters Poverty and Suicide on the Pine Ridge Reservation/Contact White House

To Friends, Relations and supporters.,

Thank you for the overwhelming response to our White House Call In last Tuesday 2/16 and again on Friday.

Over the last while, you have seen and heard of the terrible situations and conditions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Again, I am asking you to come make your voice be heard.Last Tuesday all of you overwhelmed the Comment line 202 456 1111.

On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, please take the time to call in again.We need to keep this subject on the President’s “Radar” and this is a way for us to be heard.

Tell President Obama of the awful conditions facing my people here on Pine Ridge. Tell him the Oglala Sioux Tribe Declared a State of Emergency on Suicide in December Remind him of the promises that he has made to the First Nations/Native American people. Promises waiting to be fulfilled.

When you call the comment line tell them about the grinding poverty rates, the 80% unemployment and the desperation that is leading so many of our people and youth to commite suicide. We are asking that Aide is brought to our Lakota Nation in these matters.

1: When you make your call, please be respectful

2: State in your call Why you are calling, i.e., Suicide and povertyon the Pine Ridge Reservation, etc

3: State that you would like to know what the President can do about this.

4: Remind respectfully that the President made promises to the First NationsNative American People during his campaign.

Help us to be heard again, we’ve only just begun use our voice.

Together we can make a difference for the people. One voice together, loud enough for the President to open his mind and his heart to my people, the Lakota Nation of Pine Ridge Reservation.

Please begin calling during buisness hours which are 9am – 4 pm Eastern time. Keep calling and emailing all day.

I am so grateful for the support in this effort to help Our Lakota Nation be heard. Lets work together as one voice

Pila Unyape, Wopila Tanka Echichiyape

Respectfully, Autumn Two Bulls

Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge South Dakota

http: //www.whitehouse.gov/contact

PHONE THE WHITE HOUSE:

202 456 1111

Faced with rash of suicides, OST President Two Bulls declares an emergency

www. rapidcityjournal.com

In an emotional appeal to the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls declared a state of emergency Thursday in the face of overwhelming numbers of suicides and suicide attempts on South Dakota’s largest reservation.


Chief Teresa TwoBulls declared a State of Emergency weeks ago, as conditions have become unbearable in a very harsh winter. The White House is silent.

Where is the HOPE that President Obama has promised? Where is HOPE for the Lakota?

Here is the President’s Opening words to the Tribal Nations Conference last November.



Pine Ridge Reservation America’s Own Third World Country

I have never quite understood people who travel oversees and put forth so much effort to help those in Under developed countries, when we have a place right here in the US that has Third World conditions. Technically, this place is not “in the United States.” It is an Indian Reservation, therefore a Sovereign Nation.

– snip –

•  The Average life expectancy

on the Reservation is 46

•  Pine Ridge Teen suicide rate is 150 times higher than the National Average

•  65% of the residents of the Reservation live in sub-standard conditions such as no electricity, running water, and often, without heat

Native American Suicide

( – promoted by navajo)

(Navajo invited me to cross post this from Daily Kos.)

A lot of people are aware of the many abject problems Native American’s face- rampant poverty, diabetes, environmental degradation to name a few. The current social  problems are not isolated from the past several hundred years of colonalism & imperialism, or the United States Government legacy of broken treaties and exploiting sacred land. One of the dark marks of the spiritual scar on Native America, is suicide amongst Native American youth.

What do you call the thing that has lead many young and dissaffected Native Americans to suicide? Is the word hopelessness? In 2006 on the Rosebud Indian reservation in South Dakota there were three suicides and 197 attempts. In 2007 there have been three suicides and over 144 attempts.

Earlier this year two suicides included a young man and a young woman. The

young man, 19 years old, played varsity football and basketball at Todd County High School. He was admired across the reservation, in that way small towns follow and celebrate their teenage athletes. The girl, weeks shy of her 14th birthday, made straight A’s at Todd County Middle School, played volleyball and basketball and led a traditional Lakota drum corps.

They hanged themselves

What is happening????

What is happening at Rosebud is all too common throughout Indian Country. American Indian and Alaska Native youth 15 to 24 years old are committing suicide at a rate more than three times the national average for their age group of 13 per 100,000 people, according to the surgeon general. Often, one suicide leads to another. For these youths, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death (after accidents). In the Great Plains, the suicide rate among Indian youth is the worst: 10 times the national average.

Plains reservations are among the poorest places in the country, with all of poverty’s consequences. But the why of the suicide phenomenon – why American Indian youth, why the Great Plains – is complicated, experts say. The traumas Plains tribes have experienced over the last 175 years – massacres like the one at Wounded Knee, the decimation of their land and culture – are part of it.

“Very generally, adolescence is a time of trouble for all youths,” said Philip May, a professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico who has been studying suicide among American Indians for more than 35 years. “But in many American Indian communities, it’s compounded by limited opportunities, historical trauma and contemporary discrimination. The way the Lakota people and other Plains tribes have experienced history in the last 100 years has reduced the mental health factors that are available to them to cope.”

There are those who try shining light upon the darkness…
LaBradford Eagle Deer a teenager from Rosebud spoke to the UN today about poverty. It was the United Nations observation of the 20th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The message on Eagle Deer’s stone reads: “Wherever human beings are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”

On the Rosebud reservation, more than 46 percent of children younger than 17 live in poverty, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Center.

“Poverty creates a sense of hopelessness in a person,” LaBradford said. “And that is why suicide, addiction, dropout and crime rates are so high in poverty-stricken areas on our reservation, as well as other areas in the world.”

I am glad the UN gave him a chance to speak. I hope the world will listen.