Our first full day in Pine Ridge started with a trip to the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center and a quick history lesson on the struggles between the Sioux and the United States government. The unwillingness of the United States government to keep their word when it comes to treaties with the Sioux in nothing short of embarrassing. After a quick stop at the college book store and narrowly missing a chance to meet Dennis Banks, one of the men who led the 1973 takeover of Wounded Knee, it was off to the Healing Camp for the first day.
Upon arriving at the camp site we were quickly reminded about the local concept of time, which for the most part means living in the moment and going with the flow. While we waited for one of our project partners to gather last minute supplies we watched the kid’s from Shoulder to Shoulder set up the tepees. Despite strong winds and a tepee falling over twice, everything went smoothly. Note: when constructing a tepee make sure all of your poles are long enough, this and 30mph winds proved to be the main culprits of the tepee falling over.
After a fun afternoon of helping the campers check in and make their name tags, we had a cultural orientation led by Rick Two Dogs who is one of the local medicine men on the reservation. The complexity of the old Lakota political system was interesting to learn about from a Native perspective. We then had the pleasure of eating a traditional Lakota meal consisting of beef and vegetable stew, fry bread, and fruit pudding.
The final activity of the evening was a brief orientation to meet all of the campers before they headed to the tepees for the night. We have three jam packed days of activities ahead of us and everyone involved in the camp is extremely excited to get started tomorrow.