In order to be well-prepared for our Spring Break trip, we worked together closely with an organization from the Pine Ridge Reservation. This organization is called Tipi Raisers, led by Dave Ventimiglia in collaboration with many Lakota. Here is how Tipi Raisers describe themselves on their website:
We are a community of Native Lakota and non-Natives who believe that the wisdom, culture and traditions of the Lakota People can inform and benefit the Modern World at the same time that the Modern World can assist and support the Lakota People in creating more prosperous and humane living conditions on the reservations.
Through a variety of collaborative projects, we strive to build alliances and strengthen communities for people both on and off the reservation. Additionally, we seek to provide sustainable employment as well as quality and safe housing for the Lakota People.
We sincerely hope that you will find a way to connect in with our organization and the work that we are doing. You are welcome here and we look forward to hearing from you.
You can follow Tipi Raisers on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/tipiraisers
Dave, we are incredibly grateful for all your support, wisdom, and big heart.
STATISTICS FROM THE TIPI RAISERS WEBSITE
* Lakota men have a life expectancy of less than 44 years, one of the lowest of any country in the World
* The Lakota infant mortality rate is 300% more than the U.S. Average.
* One out of every four Lakota children born are fostered or adopted out to non-Indian homes.
* Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average
* Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S national average.
* The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average.
* Federal Commodity Food Program provides high sugar, high fat, processed foods that increase our rates of diabetes and heart disease.
* The median income is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
* 97% of our Lakota people live below the poverty line.
* Many families cannot afford heating oil, wood or propane and many residents use ovens to heat their homes.
* Unemployment rates on our reservations are 80% or higher.
* There is very little industry to provide jobs
* Elderly die each winter from hypothermia (freezing).
* 1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricity.
* 60% of Reservation families have no telephone.
* 60% of housing is infected with potentially fatal black molds.
* There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (may only have two to three rooms). Some homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL:
* More than half the Reservation’s adults battle addiction and disease.
* Alcoholism affects 9 in 10 families.
* Only 14% of the Lakota population can speak the Lakota language. The language is not being shared inter-generationally.
* Today, the average age of a fluent Lakota speaker is 65 years.
* Our Lakota language is an Endangered Language, on the verge of extinction and is not allowed to be taught in the U.S. Government schools.