May gave the team multiple opportunities to expand our horizons. The beautiful spring weather helped us renew and create friendships. It was refreshing to hit the road with a sense of hopefulness as opposed to the urgency felt last year. Covid-19 rates have dropped, and borders across the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Sioux people/Seven Council Fires) are opening.
On May 5, two team members traveled to Rapid City to pay Lilly Mendoza a visit at the “The Earth is Weeping” Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women’s (MMIW) outdoor art exhibit opening held at the Journey Museum & Learning Center. The Red Ribbon Skirt Society presented the event. A cornerstone aspect of this event was a display of MMIW shadow boxes —created to honor the missing and murdered. The healing event shed more light on the crisis facing Native women. Native Hope attended and participated in the activities of the day. May 5 is also “Wear Red for the MMIW,” so many of the attendees donned red ribbon skirts for the healing and awareness event.
Thanks to supporters like you, another specific request Native Hope fulfilled this month was to assist the Restoring Hope Center, a domestic violence shelter in Lower Brule, South Dakota. The director, Vicki Her Many Horses, expressed the need for a fence that would provide privacy for residents. “It is important that kids and mothers feel safe to play outside without having their perpetrator watch them from across the street,” explained Vicki. Native Hope identified $6,000 from community outreach funds to help provide a safe environment for the women and children.
Throughout the month of the May, our team made multiple deliveries of groceries, fans, clothes, housewares, toys, bedding, hygiene items, and cleaning supplies. The team took donations to Big Bend and Crow Creek, communities on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. We made another trip to Pine Ridge to deliver contributions for the BEAR Project’s Giveaway for families from the nine districts across the Pine Ridge Reservation. Thanks to a generous donor, we presented a $2,500 check to the BEAR Project to help them fulfill a payment toward a new meeting place for the kids.
Catching up with our fellows was key this month. The pandemic hampered the efforts of our fellows last year, so we are on a mission to make up for lost time. Beverly Running Bear, Oglala Lakota, kicked off her Lakota language preservation efforts with a trip to our office to meet and discuss the importance of language and its role in the culture with Joseph Marshall III, Sicangu Lakota author and speaker. We filmed their exchange along with the Lakota and Dakota Language Event the next day at the Crow Creek Tribal School. Bev attended that event as well. “I really enjoyed hearing the speakers —it made me feel so good,” she shared. Beverly plans to hold her own Lakota language event with fluent speakers in July, where she hopes to discuss real ways to bolster Lakota language revitalization.
Jason Goodface and Elva Stricker, both from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (Kul Wicasa Oyate), look forward to completing their projects this summer. It is Jason’s goal to speak at meth awareness events across South Dakota, while Elva intends on bringing vital cultural awareness to the girls and teens of Kul Wicasa. Many of the girls faced devastating loss during the isolation caused by Covid-19. “They have lost hope,” says Elva. Because of your support, a group of girls, teens, aunties, and grandmas accompanied Elva to Lake Andes to learn about foraging Lakota medicines. This trip kicked off her fellowship. Jason will travel to Rock Creek (Bullhead), South Dakota, for his first engagement in late June.
With much appreciation for our donors and supporters, Native Hope celebrates the expansion of our horizons last month and looks forward to continued growth. Philámaya to those who contribute to our efforts across Indian Country — you make all of this possible.