A team of volunteer behavioral health professionals and students is on Pine Ridge Reservation this week, including the author of this blog: Cathy Meinecke, RN in Behavioral Health from Gundersen’s Decorah clinic in Iowa. They are building relationships with several organizations with hopes of providing training now and in the future on topics such as self-care, resiliency, trauma informed care, and more.
We started out this morning at 730 for our first day of our Behavioral Health team adventure. For lunch our group stopped off in a small town off the interstate for a lunch, a great chance for our group and the other two groups heading out to get a basic feel for each other before splitting off to go to each of our respective assignments for the week. It is very clear the kind and wonderful people that are spending the week on Pine Ridge and Rosebud volunteering this week and I count myself lucky to be a part of this group. After lunch we headed off again with the understanding that we would be splitting off for now and going our own ways for the night. Two teams going to Rosebud and our team going on to Pine Ridge. One of the teams would be joining us for the rest of the week after a night and morning in Rosebud. But for now we were on our own.
After many hours of driving through the flat landscape one passes on I-90 going west, our landscape took a sudden turn as we came down into the valley to cross the Missouri River. Gone was the flat land that had made up the first leg of the trip and it was replaced with rolling hills. One could feel the anticipation increase as we just felt closer to our destination. As we turned off the interstate to start down to Pine Ridge and Kyle to check into our home for the next week soon our landscape again changed and we could see the beauty of nature at its best. It is not hard to see why this is a sacred land and get a feel for the vastness and beautiful desolation that has been described in literature over the centuries. The hills seem to radiate their ancient story and just driving through one can feel a small part of it. We arrived at the motel and checked in. A good 12 hours on the road, but well worth it.
We met for supper to plan our week a head. We don’t know exactly what it will bring but my hope is to build relationships, both with my fellow team members and the people here that will be put in our path. Being out here it is not hard to believe there is a higher power at work. Whatever that higher power is. I feel blessed to be here with a wonderful team of mental heath professionals furthering the Global Partners mission, whatever the week brings.
Cathy Meinecke RN