#1 – The beauty of the land! Its needless to say that I did not expect the beauty I would see in the landscapes of South Dakota. From the seemingly endless rolling hills to the rock formation of the badlands, I was happily surprised with how something so calming could be so exciting.
#2 – I woke up this morning thinking how courteous my roommate Heather was for not turning on all the lights for her early morning shower. After a little while I realized I had the rainstorm to thank for the darkness, not Heather! Luckily the storm didn’t do much damage and both teams were in bright spirits to get going for the day (even without our freshly brewed coffee).
#3 – On the second night, our team had the privilege of listening to a local named Dakota tell us about the history and formation of the Pine Ridge Rez. Dakota is a born and raised community member from Wounded Knee, SD, as well as a direct descendent of tribal leaders, Sitting Bull and High Hawk. He is a part of the non-profit group Re-member, through which he works to inform locals and visitors about the history of the land so that it is not forgotten. After hearing him speak, I realized how little informed I was about not just the history of the Rez, but about the way of life of those who live on it. I never knew that the Rez is technically a prisoner of war camp, or that the battle of Wounded Knee is not a battle, but a massacre. From his narrative I took away a number of facts, but I also learned that the Native American population is continuing to be resilient despite the U.S. governments numerous attempts to destroy their culture.
– Liza Malkovich
Day 3 on Pine Ridge
As another day comes to a close, we once again reflect on all that has occurred. We started the day with a brief stop at Higher Ground Coffee Shop in Pine Ridge. Surrounded by locals as well as guest to the area we each chose something to drink and a few had a homemade treat. Then we were off to the Justice Department for the second and final day of presentations on Trauma and Self Care to an audience composed of law enforcement officials and emergency dispatchers. With some daylight left at the end of our day and the sun shining brighter, we decided to make a couple of stops before returning to the ranch. First, we went to Red Cloud Indian School Heritage Center which included a walk through Holy Rosary Church (stained glass windows below) with a brief history provided by one of the priests. The Heritage Center had pottery, regalia jewelry, artwork and several handmade star quilts. The second stop was at Wounded Knee burial site. Much to our surprise, there were two natives digging a grave. Once we arrived back at the ranch, a few people went for a walk in the waning hours of the daylight as the sun set on the ridge.
Another dinner at the Café located on the ranch for good homemade food and pies (for a few). Members of both teams joined in one room for some final conversation and brownies. That brings to a close a wide variety of endeavors involving work, culture, and comradery for this day. Off to a good night’s sleep in preparation of our final day before returning home.
– Deb Stelmach