The Break In Our IRT Flow

In one of the Turner readings from last week the idea of flow is presented. I find this idea of flow within a ritual very interesting, especially when I think of what qualifies as a ritual. Some people in our class might define a ritual as simply one of the ceremonies we participated in while on the reservation. Others might even view our whole trip to Pine Ridge as a ritual. I personally like to view our entire block as a ritual in which flow was constantly felt.

Within this block I have felt an intense feeling of flow. One of Turner’s statements about flow is that it is difficult to define time within flow. One is not able to differentiate the past, present, and future. This class has been a continuous flow from one moment to the next while still feeling in control. In my opinion this sense of flow started with our first pipe ceremony in shove. That ceremony was proof that everyone in the class was enthusiastic and open to learn more about the Lakota culture and people. From that ceremony on our class quickly and attentively went from one moment to the next without much, if any, breathing time in between. Although the block plan lends itself to not giving us time to process these events fully as they were happening, we are now left with the task of unraveling our experiences from this class. I think many of us started to feel this way upon our return to campus after being on the reservation, but now we all realize this feeling more. Now we actually have the time to fully focus on the aspects we want to understand from the events that took place and the things we learned. While this process seemed to start upon our return, we all are realizing that our understanding of our unique experiences will only deepen with time.  These ideas of flow presented by Turner help me understand why some aspects of this class were hard to process, and will only become easier to comprehend as time goes on; because the flow was so constant, now being out of the flow is it easier to analyze the occurrences.

Although it is easier for me to realize that there was a more recognizable flow while we were on the reservation and sharing in ceremonies, I still recognize the different sense of flow in our normal class atmosphere. I can pretty confidently say that most of us felt the interruption in our flow that first weekend and Monday back from Pine Ridge. Some people were sick and some were just talking about how it was difficult getting back into the CC campus life after being on the reservation for 5 days. While that could be seen as the end of our flow because we were back on campus, I only see that as an interruption in the overall flow of our entire block.

I think now with our class coming to an end it is easier to grasp this idea of our class being a ritual with a constant flow without. Having no more class time left makes me realize how real the flow of our class was because I will not have that flow anymore. I think that flow makes sense when thinking of the saying “you don’t know what you have until its gone”, its easier to notice a flow once it is not occurring anymore.

Thanks to all of you for making this block so amazing!

Posted in Block 3: 2011-12 | 1 Comment

Our Final Day

As I sit in the airport while writing this, it’s hard for me to believe that our time in IRT has come to an end. This past month has gone by so quickly and yet so slowly at the same time—it feels like our first pipe ceremony was only a few days ago, but it puzzles me as to how we could have experienced all that we did during the past few weeks.

Yesterday was our final day of class. In the morning we finished up our presentations, and in the afternoon we had our last pipe ceremony, which was focused on thanks. As we went around the circle, almost every person thanked Bruce, Celinda, our fellow classmates, and the people at Pine Ridge. It may have been repetitive, but every word each person said was so thoughtful and meaningful that it didn’t really bother me. During pipe, I had a similar experience to my first pipe ceremony during first week. I had so much stress going into this class that I felt like I was on the verge of exploding, but after the first ceremony I literally felt like I could breathe better. This feeling stayed with me for a while, but slowly went away over the course of the block as I was learning new and interesting things, which overwhelmed me. To my shock, this feeling went away yesterday after pipe yet again. I know how crazy this sounds to outsiders, but when I told the class this at the end of our ceremony yesterday, I could see the understanding in each person’s face.

The whole experience this block, from classroom debates to our field trip at Pine Ridge, is something that very few students experience at CC. I have never had a class here where I truly felt that my fellow classmates and I were on the same page. Everyone listened to each other and welcomed all opinions, something that can be so rare in a classroom setting. In conclusion, I thank each and every one of you who has been with me on this journey these past few weeks. I hope that we all stay in touch throughout the remainder of our time here at CC and work at being a constant support system for one another as we continue to process our experiences during this class.

Posted in Block 3: 2011-12 | Leave a comment

What now?

It seems silly to attempt to write after the presentation Adam, Jacy, Jake, and I made yesterday, especially because I was the one to use music as my mode of expression, but here I go.

Religious experience, or meaningful experience, is an incredibly difficult thing to explain and to define and this is why I am so confused. Coming in to this class, I was a very unreligious person, and I still am, but something is different. I lost something during this class. It might have been something that needed to go, or it might have been something that I loved that was taken from me. I don’t know.

I’ll tell you what I do know at this point in time. I know that this is not the end. I know that I need to find something to replace what I’ve lost. I know that I will never directly be able to search out this “something” but that I still need to search. I know that in five years I will probably look back on myself in this class and give a quick chuckle at how lost I was, but at the same time understand how important this experience has been. And finally, I know that as soon as I publish this post, I’m going to go to Rastall, consume a sizable serving of food, drive to Silverton, and go skiing with four of my closest friends. And I’m going to love every minute of it. I know these things because I just said that I know them, and that is that.

-Max

Posted in Block 3: 2011-12 | 2 Comments

here’s the truth

It is a search for truth.  For the true.  For the center.  We try so hard to find what we think is right or good or proper, but rarely do we look for ourselves.  Through art we are able to move beyond the everyday experiences and express our centers.  But what is art? Is art defined in the end or the means? A combination of both?  I define art as concentrated effort to express one’s self.  I also try not to define art.  Art can both be art to one person and mundane to another.  At that point it is both art and not art.  That duality is one of the main issues I have while grappling with this class.  I strongly believe that reality is personal experience of the world.  Each person’s reality is the true reality because it is the reality for them.  Each reality both exists and does not exist at the same time.   Think Schrodinger’s Cat. Until we actually are able to look into the box and see the true reality, all realities are both true and untrue at the same time.  We will never know true reality, but we experience it everyday all the time through our being.  None of it matters, none of it makes sense. It all matters, it all makes sense.

Posted in Block 3: 2011-12 | Leave a comment

Crafts and their history

For my final project I researched the sacredness of tobacco and made a tobacco pouch.  I also looked up the history of Lakota dream catchers and made a dream catcher. Finally I explored the different prayer tie colors and what they represented and made a couple prayer ties of my own to bring with me to our last pipe ceremony tomorrow.

I wanted to research about the sacredness of tobacco because throughout this class we heard so much about tobacco and how it was sacred and we smoke it after ceremony, but I wanted to know more about the sacredness of it. This is what I found:

-provides connection between their culture and spirit world
-seen as a gift of the earth, plants roots in the earth, smoke rises into sky
-while burned the smoke was used to cleanse and heal
-social purposes to promote well-being and good thoughts
-not always smoked for leisure but rather a blessing from the creator
-used as offerings to the great spirit
-thought of as a sacred object like a bible or cross
-used as medicine
-put in the sacred pipe to connect with the spirits during ritual ceremonies like yuwipi
-smoke of tobacco represents the tangible presence of whope
-small puffs taken then held in the mouth, smoke was not to be enjoyed but meant to cleanse the air, heart, mind
-prayer
-smoke rises and takes prayers with it
-offerings
-burn tobacco before storms so they won’t hurt families
-purification
-taking something from earth they explain to spirit why they need it and offer tobacco in return for what they take
-respect
-don’t abuse it

These are what the different prayer tie colors represents:

yellow-east, Asian Grandmothers & Grandfathers, Sunrise, Spring, Rebirthing
red-south, Native Grandmothers & Grandfathers, Noon, Summer
black-west, Black Grandmothers & Grandfathers, Afternoon, Fall, Harvest
white-north, White Grandmothers & Grandfathers, Evening, Winter
blue- southeast, Father Sky, Water, Rain, Healing Energy
purple- southwest, grandfather, old ancient ones
green- northwest, mother earth, all creation, plants, creatures, four seasons
peach- northeast, grandmother, old ancient ones

 

This is the history and story I found about the Lakota dream catchers and the one Annie and I read in class.

Long ago when the word was sound, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and searcher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life, how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle.

But, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, in each time of life there are many forces, some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they’ll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature. While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web.

When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the great spirit, the web will filter your good ideas and the bad ones will be trapped and will not pass.

The elder passed on his vision onto the people and now many Indian people have a dreamcatcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. The good will pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. The evil in their dreams are captured in the web, where they perish in the light of the morning sun. It is said the dreamcatcher holds the destiny of the future.

I enjoyed learning the history about various crafts that we haven’t learned much about before and I really enjoyed being able to make my own.

 

dream catcherphoto 2

http://www.dream-catchers.org/dream-catchers-lakota.php

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Indigenous people and education

Lacourt’s Description of a Tree Outside the Forest was my favorite article out of the feminism articles we read. The reason I liked it so much was because our conversations about insiders and outsiders on the reservation in class and how closely it tied into this article. The author is an educated lady of Menominee descent. A graduate student and tree enthusiast. Lacourt’s experience in college was shot down in the beginning of one class after her contributions and comments didn’t seem good enough for the rest of the class. This was the last time she spoke in class. Regardless she pursued a PhD and through her program learned that trying to write more academically rather than how she would normally speak, she got lost in the words and not what she was trying to say.

Lacourt continued her doctoral candidate and worked on her home reservation gathering oral histories from elders and making a curriculum with reservation schools where students would work with their own families to document their own history.

Lacourt was working on her own reservation and she was still sort of thought of and respected as an outsider. She was watched while working but was fine with it because she understood why she couldn’t be trusted, just as she wouldn’t trust an outsider. Our discussion of whether or not indigenous people should be educated or share their views coincides with this story. This indigenous person, Lacourt, lost some of her ability to voice what she thought was right in class and to her professor about her religion and culture by being in school.

After finishing her research she became a professor at a large state university. She’s also the advisor to the American Indian student organization which brings back her voice and allows her to share her experiences and express her thoughts and views the other indigenous students at that school. It’s clear that her voice still isn’t respected because she’s an Indigenous women of color, a minority.

I think that this article shows what happens if indigenous people do go to school and get educated. Even though it is good for them and allows them more opportunities to get jobs, their voices are appreciated which shoots down their willingness to share about their culture, religion and people back on the reservation. Their chance they have while educated to talk and express what they need to in order to change other peoples views about the indigenous religion is limited because people are still ignorant and do not want them (indigenous people) around. I think that even though these people aren’t getting their voices heard it’s still good that they’re able to get educated, help their community on their reservation preserve culture and history and continue to finish their education and want to educate others.

https://prowl.coloradocollege.edu/file.php/3167/Natives_Academy/Lacourt.AcademyExper.pdf

 

 

Posted in Block 3: 2013-2014 | 2 Comments

Modern society has become far from communal especially in America where the dream is to own one’s own piece of property separate from one’s neighbors and the rest of the community.  This creates a kind of isolation between people, which takes away from our natural need to share our experiences and everyday lives with those around us as well as receive support from those people.  Many problems in our society to do with youth culture such as the abuse of substances seem to me to be enhanced by the fact that we grow up lacking this kind of supportive community as well as the practice of traditions and ceremonies.  In many tribal and indigenous communities it is customary to perform a coming-of-age ritual or a right-of –passage ritual.  This kind of ceremony is important in the lives of adolescents in marking the onset of adulthood and the beginning of independence and maturity.  The absence of this type of ritual in modern society disrupts the natural course of growth in a child’s life and puts them in an awkward limbo of being neither a child nor an adult and therefore unsure about how to act.

Coming-of-age ceremonies are just one example of rituals that are lacking in our society and therefore detrimental to the health of its people.  We are also out of touch with the natural world and the cycles of the seasons as well as the agricultural calendar, which means even the source of our food is not in our knowledge.  I feel that because of these cultural losses, we manifest our necessity for them through other cultural customs, which are often derived in youth culture and in deviance.  At this particular concert in Denver I was taken by the repetitive rhythms of the instruments, the long sets that were played, the computerized visuals, and the unity of the crowd.  All of these elements struck me as ceremonial and ritualistic.  The musicians were the Shamans or the preachers and the audience became one entity moving together as a unified whole.  The use of art and music in culture has always been tied to religious practices because of their ability to induce altered states of consciousness.  It is true that when dancing at this particular concert I felt as though I was in a trance and the experience was meditative.  I got lost in the visual projections as well.  I see little difference between this experience and a religious ceremony, whether it is in a church or a teepee.  The use of drugs at concerts is similar in many ways to the drug use in religious ceremonies.  In Native culture many tribes use peyote to achieve connection with the spirit world and experience visions that will provide guidance in their lives.  It is customary for Catholics to drink wine symbolizing the blood of Christ and for Hindis to use marijuana in worship of Shiva.  Whether dancing at a concert or participating in a ceremony, the experience of an altered state often plays a large role, and it is through the music, art, and substances involved in these events that one is able to connect with the spiritual realm.

This is not to deduce the meaning behind religious ceremony down to the simplest of everyday activities, but it does seem to be important to point out the connection between culture and religion and realize that they can often be one and the same, serving the most fundamental human motivations.  This class opened my eyes to just how broad spirituality is and how events as well as experiences can be spiritual even if they are not labeled as such under the construct of organized religion.

Posted in Block 3: 2013-2014 | Leave a comment

Learning Re-embodiment Through the Lakota Tradition

Last week while reviewing the x-rays of my spine at a chiropractic clinic the chiropractor pointed at my scoliotic spine and said, “Yah, this is pretty nasty”. I was shocked. Had I misheard him? He flipped to the next image, this one of my lower back, “This one too, nasty stuff.” I left the consultation feeling malignant and grotesque. His wife, Dr. Angela with whom he shared the practice called me an hour later wanting to “check in” and making sure I was doing okay after the appointment. I told her that no I wasn’t okay, that I was struggling to make sense of the way in which “Dr. Doug” had framed my condition using words like “nasty”. She replied saying, “Well sweetie, he wasn’t saying you are nasty, he was just talking about your back”.

This comment left me feeling puzzled. According to the Dr. duo, was my back not me? Did they feel like they could point at x-rays and make crude remarks as if the patient sitting beside them was in no way connected to misaligned or should I say “subluxated” vertebral column before them? I find the possible implication of their comments troubling to say the least. In failing to recognize the connection between mind and body, these doctors revealed to me the degree to which we have disassociated ourselves from our own bodies. Is not Decartes’ “I think therefore I am”, a central tenet of Western culture, insistent upon our disembodiment as a distinguishing feature of civilized peoples?

The consequences of our disembodiment are no more evident than in the current environmental crisis. Only by denying our connection to our bodies, the air, water, and earth we consume, have we been complicit in the continued exploitation of the Earth. Furthermore, disembodiment has been engineered within the patriarchal structures to denigrate and dominate “the other”, by separating them from each other and themselves.

According to the western tradition, women, at the mercy of nature as life bearers, are subordinate to men, who, not bound by their bodies may transcend the corporeal and inhabit the cultural, the intellectual. As a western women, I carry Eve’s disgrace, internalizing the guilt and fear of not being born a man. We are told our bodies are sinful and dirty and for that we seek distance from our bodies. Residing in the cerebral and virtual realms, western culture enables our dissociation from our own bodies in effect allowing us to avoid the persistent reminder our bodies provide of our mortality. What’s more, living in and privileging the mind has allowed us to be the primary beneficiaries of exploitation of peoples and nature while evading any sense of responsibility for that which occurs in the physical realm. Now, faced with global warming and the deepening of generational poverty worldwide, we have retreated further into the cerebral, turning to sophisticated technologies to mitigate environmental impacts and to aid-based development initiatives to modernize “underdeveloped” societies that devastate traditional and local cultural identities and communities. Maintaining “objectivity” in this work that purports to heal, ensures a level of disembodiment that keeps us from connecting with others. But objectivity, like disembodiment, is a fantasy thought its effects are frightening and real.

The Lakota tradition provides a new understanding of the self and of embodiment that defines the relationship between human and natural world, intended to establish wholeness in the midst of fragmentation. Envisioning the self extending beyond the confines of the skin, Lakota see the world as self and self as world. Drawing on my experience of the Lakota culture, I have discovered re-embodiment to be the work that connects and heals, restoring our value. The body like the land has intrinsic value and should be cared for. This concept is grounded in the Natural Laws, one of which, the seventh Direction, is centered around taking care of the four parts of the self: mind, body, emotions and soul. The Seventh Direction recognizes “our divine, as we look within to understand we are holy and deep within” (The Four Directions). Taking care of these four aspects of our beings as best we can will allow us to according to David Little Elk, “establish inner peace within ourselves”. He continues writing “Nature projects the state of being in our inner world to the world around us. Thus, if we do not maintain our Seventh Directions, then we contribute to the continuing violation of our Mother Earth.” (Elk). By taking care and being aware of our own bodies can we heal the body of Mother Earth. The Sixth Direction, Mother Earth “reminds us we are all a part of a greater whole and we have all we need. This direction nourishes us and reminds us that “we are all connected and never alone” (The Four Directions). The Seven Directions expresses this concept of wholeness, harmony and balance that is maintained through Lakota spiritual practices.

For me and many Lakotas, this healing takes place in the case of the Sweat Lodge in the womb of Mother Earth. On Pine Ridge Reservation, I began my experience feeling uncentered and disconnected from my heart center from my body and through ceremony regained a sense of balance. In sweat and Yuipi, I encountered for the first time I my own female power as I grappled with the fear of inadequacy of being female within a patriarchy. Not only did I encounter vulnerability but also strength and courage. I discovered a power that insists “I myself am the other”, that insists wholeness-in-self, this power that is dangerous to the integrity of patriarchal structures by seeking the courage through prayer in ceremony to rediscover and re-inhabit my body.

The moon, in the Lakota tradition, symbolizes the female power. The Lakota people see a woman’s face in the moon not a man’s. From the moon came women. The moon is explicitly connected to women’s menses, pregnancy and fertility. Menstruation is not a weakness in Lakota thought but a source of power. During a woman’s “moon” or period, her power is overwhelming and the spirits are with her. For this, she cannot enter ceremony because her power will override that of the medicine man. Women are central actors in the creation myths of the Lakota people. White Buffalo Woman endowed the Lakota people with the sacred pipe. If we assume women to be more “in touch” with their bodies through their reproductive cycle (though it is currently thought of as a shameful burden), could Ilarion Merculieff, an Aleut elder, be correct in saying women will be the ones to initiate these changes?

Healing for me is not about “beating disease” or “fighting poverty” but about grappling with the ephemeral nature of our existence by connecting to our heart’s centers and recognizing the beauty within and amongst. By connecting with the Earth and the ancestors we may embrace the vulnerability of our bodies that will allow us to feel, not deny, the vulnerability and suffering of marginalized peoples and the Earth. Transcendence and healing come not through our disembodiment, as the western tradition insists, but through our groundedness and connection, as the Lakota culture exemplifies.

-Nanette Phillips

Four Directions

http://www.servicespace.org/about/docs/events/2012/laddership/four_directions.pdf

http://www2.fiu.edu/~mizrachs/lakota.htm

http://www.onbeing.org/program/a-second-wind/6050

Posted in Block 3: 2011-12 | Leave a comment

What am I doing here?

Returning from Pine Ridge, I feel as I did returning home after four months in Bolivia. Both times rocked by the culture shock of reentry,  I’ve never felt so disillusioned by American mainstream culture. But this isn’t a culture shock that I’m looking to shake. To do so would mean a return to complacency, apathy or worse yet forgetting. Our discussions this week about western academia made me consider CC’s culpability in the power dynamics that have been in effect since the release of the Papal Bull of 1493 that James Fenelon argues initiated the widespread genocide of North American indigenous peoples. While we pat our backs over how progressive we are, over our immense capacity for critical thinking, I can help but feel the limits of our critical facilities are not as far reaching as we claim them to be.

I just got back from returning a dress my mom bought me at Banana Republic. I drove North, to the deep burbs, down this parkway and that corporate drive until I arrived at Briargate Shopping Center at the gates of which,  plastic evergreen reindeer strung with Christmas lights stood guard.  As I entered the store I was greeted by Deck the Halls which had it not been for the intermittent jingling of bells would have passed my notice as another electro-megatrong song.  Now I’m no stickler for dates (is it thursday or friday?) but something seems amiss when I haven’t even begun to have my sequence of drool provoking dreams leading up to Thanksgiving about encountering man sized turkey’s and there’s already someone telling me that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 

Jean Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulations posits that our existence occurs amongst layers of representation upon representation, that we have become so reliant on models and maps that we are no longer in contact with the real world. We exist in the “hyperreal” a point at beyond artificiality because artificiality implies a knowledge of the real in comparison, a point where we can no longer distinguish between nature and artifice. After being on Pine Ridge where economic and cultural circumstances render Lakota people incredibly vulnerable, returning to Colo Spgs. I felt hyperaware of the decree to which we insulate and isolate ourselves with wealth, residing in these enclaves of luxury, largely unaware of how manufactured our social and cultural motives truly are. We say that we’re the best country in the world yet we’re one of the unhealthiest and the most spiritually deprived.

While this lifestyle is, needless to say, unsustainable, I question CC’s commitment to upsetting these cycles of dependency on the consumer-patriarchal-capitalist system.  I wonder what we are truly progressing at CC. The opportunities to engage with the local and international communities at CC are relatively few and far between experiences that I believe to be imperative to altering worldviews and inspiring social activism. That’s why I am so greatful for this experience. I’m so desperately trying to continue stoking the fire that was sparked in me first in Bolivia and then again on Pine Ridge, to not lose my critical eye to complacency and comfort. Even so, I can’t help but fear losing this momentum.

Posted in Block 3: 2011-12 | Leave a comment

Economics of the Pine Ridge Reservation

First, for all you visual learners, here is our Prezi presentation for your enjoyment. Below is a short write-up of what we learned from during our independent research.

During our field trip to South Dakota, Becca, Caroline, Lauren, and I (Jenny) noticed a stark lack of economic activity on the reservation, which not only troubled us but also prompted our final project: an examination of the economics of reservations in general and Pine Ridge in particular.

Pine Ridge is one of the poorest places in America; the per capita income in Porcupine, Big Mike’s town, is just over $4,000, and the unemployment rate is 89%. We explored why, and brainstormed possible solutions to the reservation’s rampant poverty. We quickly identified businesses outside of the reservation’s boundaries as a prominent problem. In other words, when people spend their money outside the reservation, the money goes to the state’s government instead of cycling back to the reservation’s Tribal Council for use within the reservation. Shopping off of the reservation is often less expensive than shopping on the reservation, which creates a net flow of money from the reservation each year.

In discussing the economics of the reservation, we quickly realized there is only so much we can understand because the reservation operates in a culturally different manner than the rest of the United States. Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota phrase meaning “all my relations,” encapsulates this issue; generosity remains a central tenant of Lakota culture, and, as Little Mike and Jamie emphasized, money often spreads among community members based on need. People do not necessarily spend their income in a way our Western economic models would predict. Our cultural bias hinders us from fully understanding the economic situation on the reservation, begging the question if anyone outside of the reservation can help, assuming that people on the reservation would even want outside help to begin with.

We also researched how people living on reservations generate revenue. With 460 total casinos run by tribes, casinos serve as a large revenue source for reservations. Indeed, Pine Ridge makes $1 million dollars a year from casino activity, but this figure is significantly less than how much other tribes make from casinos. Microenterprises (e.g., beadwork, quilts, repairs, cleaning, etc.) are another common way people make money, and 83% of households at Pine Ridge engage in some form of microenterprise. Unfortunately, since microenterprise isn’t registered with any government, it is considered a “Black Market” activity and does not generate tax revenues to be redistributed. Finally, various business in the private sector of Pine Ridge generate revenue: convenience stores, gas stations, video stores, fast food restaurants, and a single grocery store.

imgres

An example of microenterprise happening in Santa Fe, NM.

How, then, can, people on the reservation break the poverty cycle? Early childhood education is the most cost-effective method. Investing in preschools encourages development when it is most likely to have an impact on the child’s future.  Land zoning, by giving private property rights to businesses to attract private industry, would also increase revenue. Businesses understand the lack of public property rights as an incredible risk since they do not have legal property protections to fall back on. By creating viable shopping options on the reservation, money is kept in the community instead of channeling it into businesses like Walmart that exist right off of the reservation. Finally, encouraging Sioux Pride would boost the sense of community on the reservation, encouraging people to invest more in the reservation. First, however, Pine Ridge needs to develop basic infrastructure such as banks and housing.

Educating Pine Ridge's youth is one potential solution to the reservation's economic woes.

Educating Pine Ridge’s youth is one potential solution to the reservation’s economic woes. 

_DSC0227 

Ultimately, we decided the solution to Pine Ridge’s poverty involves finding a common ground between our cultures. As outsiders, we cannot necessarily grasp the complexity of how money moves around the reservation. Yet, empowering the Lakota with the basic resources and education to build wealth and health would serve as a starting point for change stemming from the community itself.

Posted in Independent Projects | 1 Comment