Rod Vaughn, Executive Director of Diamond Willow Ministries at Fort Thompson, South Dakota, recently shared the following:
A community member here in Fort Thompson, Billy Joe Sazue posted the video below on his Facebook page today. Billy Joe is a good man that I first met twenty years ago while he was in high school. His mother, Roxanne is the Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairwoman. Billy Joe posted this comment with the video:
“I've had non-Indian friends (in a good way) ask me why the reservations are the way they are. My short answer was, "we're a broken people." This is the more detailed reason. A good watch.”
I am not an expert, nor do I certainly claim to speak for any Native American people. However, I have lived near, or on, a reservation most of my life. The problems and challenges that those living on the reservations in South Dakota face are complex. The current rash of suicides on the Pine Ridge Reservation is a tragic symptom of these problems. It is somewhat dated now, but still a true statement, that the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation was declared,
“One of the highest risk environments in the nation for children. The high-risk status results from multiple factors such as; poverty, lack of proper schooling, generational child abuse and neglect, unemployment, high suicide rate and other environmental conditions. Currently the children of the Crow Creek Reservation endure inordinately high rates of physical abuse, sexual abuse, alcohol-related neglect, teen pregnancy, child and adult alcohol and drug abuse, alcohol absences and drop-out, and seven times the national rate of suicide and delinquency.” - Business Research Bureau of the University of South Dakota
I agree with Billy Joe, this video, “America’s Native Prisoners of War”, is a good watch. The situation here on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation isn’t identical to that on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation. However this 15-minute video provides a good overview of the U.S. Government’s historical interaction with the Lakota and Dakota people. You may or may not agree with the speaker’s ultimate conclusion. However, he makes an excellent and factual presentation that provides a broader perspective on the current situation.
Take a few minutes to watch this video so that we all might have greater understanding to the history of the Native people and so that our compassion for them might move us to greater action.