Caring for Our Nation

I thank God I have the opportunity to actually care, not just for Lower Brule but also for our entire nation. It’s time for our people to change our mindset and to break free from all the different types of abuse that are keeping us in bondage. As long as we have life, there’s hope. After we, as a people, take a good look at what has been keeping us from moving ahead for a better life, we can take positive steps to be free to truly live.

Reservation life

When I was younger, I moved my family off the reservation at different times. We were curious and wanted to see what it would be like to live off the reservation.

I actually decided to move my family back, though, because I thought they would be safer. I was worried about them being kidnapped or being unable to ride their bikes in safety. Plus, I wanted to be closer to our relatives. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate the unique beauty of our community. We are truly blessed.

Living by the river, we’re able to fish and hunt whenever we want. I’m proud of how fortunate we are to have a herd of buffalo and elk. Also, we live on a tribal ranch and a farm that produces some of the world’s best popcorn. Tribal Chairman, Michael Jandreau, who is deceased now, set our people up to flourish.

The darkness among the light

However, our young people are unable to flourish because of the drugs that are now in our community. The drugs are easy to access, and they are more addicting than alcohol. Meth is silently taking over our people’s way of thinking and making them destructive.

Our children are now accepting this as a normal way of life just as they have accepted alcohol and abuse. They don’t report what is happening at home because they think they’re protecting their families. They’re in denial, and they eventually give up on themselves.

Sadly, it’s not just the young people who are using drugs. All types of age groups are using: grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, moms, and dads. Some families even feel threatened if they try to confront the ones who are using.

It’s all about the mindset

Our brains are wired to be open for love, goodness, and a positive way of life. When we dwell on the negative—by allowing toxic thoughts such as suicide, hatred, and anger in our minds—it goes deeper into our brains, and we are not able to move forward to the positive.

These issues can determine what kind of day we’re going to have: good or bad.

Our minds need to be rewired constantly until we no longer have those negative issues controlling our lives. Then, we will be able to receive love from our loved ones and enjoy our lives free from drugs, alcohol, anger, and hatred.

Spirituality: then and now

Our ancestors had spiritual ways of life. I believe that was a method of survival, an invaluable tool to help them deal with difficult issues.

We have that choice also. Turning to a higher power can give us the strength and courage we need.

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Today, most of our pain is alcohol and drug-related, which is self-inflicted. We deal with the effects of suicide, hatred, and anger in an unhealthy way, which causes us to hurt others. Unfortunately, we don’t realize the damage we do to others because our minds are clouded with the toxic poison of alcohol and drugs in our systems.

Many years ago, spirituality gave our ancestors peace and harmony to endure the hardships they faced. In the same way, spirituality can give us an open mind to receive the goodness our brains were created for. Relying on a higher power can help us to be truly content, even in the midst of hard circumstances.

At times, we feel things would be good if only we had all the right things in our lives. But until that empty spot is filled with spirituality, we will still feel as though we are missing something.

How we’re making a change

During “meth walks” at night, volunteers walk through the community to provide help. We are trying to bring the awareness to the ones violating our community because we are not going to sit back and do nothing.

Native Hope is another avenue of reaching out to our young people.

By engaging our youth and building hope within them, we are giving them the necessary strength to inspire their family members to receive hope.

Our youth need to be encouraged. Even though they are young, they are a big part of helping our communities.

With Native Hope, we can provide our youth with many valuable opportunities, and we can show them that the unhealthy, toxic cycle of abuse can be stopped. Thanks, Native Hope, for caring for our nation!

Stand With Native Hope, empowering a generation of young Native Americans

determined to break the cycle of abuse. 

Topics: Culture and Identity, Stories of Hope, At Risk Issues

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