I received a phone call today. I thought I might pass it on.
Many years ago I was asked if I could help the people of Pineridge Indian Reservation in what is now called S. Dakota. Pineridge was (probably still is) the poorest county in the U.S. The people there had been suffering years and years of government neglect and abuse. People died of cold in winter, there was little money to afford the things needed to live in the white society forced on them at the start of the reservation period, the food was unhealthy, children often grew up with little hope. An old Elder, Granma Nellie, called someone she had never met and knew nothing about, because there was no one else to call. In that first conversation we had, Grandma asked me three times if I could help. With that third request, I knew the meaning and depth of what she asked.
For the next 20+ years I collected food, clothing, furniture, tools, money and whatever else I could gather, and drove what became nearly 70 semi truck loads to Pineridge, Rosebud, Green Grass, Seneca and Mohawk Reservations in N.Y., other Res's in Nebraska and the Four Corners area. I did all I could do, kept my mouth shut, spent more time with Traditionals than I did on my own land, and helped as I could. Eventually they trusted me enough to ask me to take them to Iraq, before the first war, to Pray for Peace. We met with and Prayed with all the leaders who would later be executed by the "winners" of that struggle. The Lakota Elders and Medicine People went there despite all their own hard and difficult lives, because Spirit spoke to them and told them they must go.
Nearly all those old Elders I once knew are now gone. Spirit had told them that if they went to Pray, they would be noticed by other Spirit that did not like good things happening in the World. And they would pay a price. And so they did. Difficult lives became even more difficult because they did such a good thing for the world. Now, others take their place.
I have not been to Pineridge in many years. As time has passed the 2400 mile round trip became too much. The need for help there remains as it has always been, but others are needed now to listen to them and consider how to respond.
I received a phone call today. I thought I would pass it on. Canupa Gluha Mami called. He has never met me, I know nothing of him. But he asked if I knew of a way to help. I told him the same thing I told Grandma Nellie 40 years ago, I'll see what Spirit has to say, ...and I make no promises. And as I walked my farm today I heard a voice say that maybe I should pass on Mami's ask for help to the people of Permaculture.
...He told me he, and others, were working very hard to help their Lakota People. They are especially trying very hard to get them better food. But they have little money and little infrastructure for such an effort. He said they needed a barn to receive food and distribute it from. They don't just want to take what the gov't gives them, they want to build their own way of feeding their people. Mami said he does not have a computer, but that a friend had set up a web site so folks could see some more about them. You can see it at www.cantetenza.wordpress.com. He also gave me his phone number where you could call him, in the community of Porcupine, Pineridge. 605-517-1547. Please only call him if you have something to offer, whether it be advice about growing healthy food or building a building or sending a donation to help. I trust that posting his phone in such a public way will only be a good thing. And, please make no promises. Just do what you can do.
When I spent time at Pineridge the food there was awful. It still is. The commodities the gov't gives are all of poor quality, ..the whitest rice, the most refined sugars, blocks of cheese food, the closest to vegetables I saw was ketchup. They need better. We can do better. I do not know him. We have not met. But, Spirit said to me it was alright to pass this request along. Now I ask Spirit to talk with you about what you will do.
-- I received a phone call today. It is the third time I have written that.
Thank you. Nyah-weh. Pilamiya.
Stone Garden Farm
Creating sustainable life, beauty & food (with lots of kids and fun)
I went to Amazon, ordered ten of this item, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019JNHJVQ, and had it shipped to their address. Amazon has accepted the order, which means they confirmed the address is real and one they can send to, and promised to deliver by Oct 20 - Oct 26. (The limit per customer was ten, so that was all I could do. It's currently the price I'd pay in the store for salmon, so I think that was a good deal.)
I would also be willing to send a small donation if I knew where to direct it (by check). I don't have the permaculture skills to help, or any fresh foods to send. I'm terrible at phone calls. But I think this is important. Thank you for posting.
I have not been to Pineridge for several years. It's a 2400 mile round trip and it's become too rigorous as I've aged. So I hesitate to write about exactly what is going on there right now. But, I can talk about what I saw a few years ago.
....The Western Plains used to be a beautiful and abundant place. The buffalo roamed in the millions. They were masters of permaculture unlike the world is likely to ever see again. As they moved thru an area their hooves turned the soil, they left behind rich manure, and after their passing, rich and strong grasses grew, waiting for their someday return. It was an in-cooperation with Nature, that built wonderful topsoil many feet deep.
All that changed with the start of the Reservation Period following the American Civil War. Huge numbers of people of a different culture went west, leaving behind the ravages of war and seeking new opportunities. Very unfortunately, they saw the land in a very different way. They believed in individual ownership, and fenced the land into pieces. They destroyed the free running buffalo. Where they could own their own land, many of them cared for it. But others "rented" land on the Indian Reservations. Then land became a thing of profit. No longer cared for, no longer loved. And the cows and over grazing began.
Pineridge once was prairie. The grasses strong and thick. Now, much of it looks like desert. Sand, rock, cactus, dust, little moisture, wind. Cold in Winter, hot in Summer. I talked with many folks about improving their soil, growing their own gardens, enjoying good foods, --instead of existing on "commodities". Some replied that putting chicken manure on the garden was disgusting. "Manure on vegetables? Ick!" When I was there, every home was full of coffee, meat and cigarettes. But I don't remember vegetables. Lots of sugar, few things green. I talked about starting a food co-op. I gave them addresses of where to order whole foods. I took scales to divide the bulk orders. I even arranged for Midwives, and healthy food cooks and herbalists to go there to teach. I gave them everything they needed to begin a new way of doing for themselves, just as we had done in our own hometown whole foods co-op. --But, the time was not right. They did not need to be told what was good for them. That has been happening to them for a hundred years. Being told.
So I was so happy when Mami called. He spoke of a new way for his people. He envisioned what could be done. And now he has asked for help. Not being told what to do, but asking for help to do what he saw to do.
--So I ask you permaculturalists, can you help him in the way he asks? My suggestion is to call him. I am sure he will welcome hearing from you. Ask him what you can do. Ask him his solutions. Ask HIM what he needs to help his folks. Maybe offer him knowledge about forgotten ways (after all, isn't that what permaculture really is? A way that once was common and now is almost mystery?) Tell him, if you wish, that you received his number from someone on permaculture, a wonderful organization of people who love Earth and the peoples who walk Her, care for Her.
His name, as I understood it, is Canupa Gluha Mami. His number is 605-5171547.
..Call him, see what he says, and, "Maybe a good thing will happen today."
Stone Garden Farm
Creating sustainable life, beauty & food (with lots of kids and fun)
hau kola, It is good to see this part of the story being put before people.
There is always something needed at all the reservations. The government would still like us to just disappear.
The Sioux are proud people, our leaders surrendered only because they knew that if they didn't, there would not be any of us left. It is a sore point with the youth and that is perhaps why so many are troubled, even to the point of committing suicide.
Many people want to help but I fear they become frustrated because they do not understand why people seem to reject their well meaning efforts to help.
It is my belief that this happens because of all the "misinformation" that is taught to them in school, so I would attempt to give a little of our POV, perhaps it will help some.
Those that are not understanding the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota and other nations way of thinking need to understand we are hunter gatherer people, just because the white eyes persecuted the people does not mean they changed their way of life.
It does mean we adapted but only by force did we do so.
The government boarding schools sought to take away our language and culture. They forced us to cut our hair, punished those who dared to speak any language other than English, no other people have been treated this way in this country.
The schools stripped away every bit of our identity and took away our teachings of love, respect, nurturing of family and earth mother, everything that made us who we are was taken away.
No other people have been subjected to the relentless hunting down, murdering, stripping all dignity, forced marches, subjugation and overall concentration camp type treatment that we have been subjected to.
Genocide was practiced no only on the people but also on our food supply, the tatanka (Bison or Buffalo), people like buffalo bill made their living by mass murder and wasting of the meat.
When we did have fields of corn and other vegetable crops, if they were found by the pony soldiers, they were burned.
Custer killed women and children everywhere he found the camps of the people, he was not the only blue coat to do this but he is the one made out as a hero instead of the butcher he really was.
Once we were defeated, they crammed us into mud holes they called camps, water was contaminated, they gave us wormy or spoiled foods and told us to be grateful. They allowed sick people to die and whipped, beat, starved or shot those that would not submit.
We did not understand, we are taught that we are all one people but the white eyes did and do not understand this truth.
Once you understand our point of view because of these treatments, perhaps you will understand us a little better.
As for teaching the people of the nations how to farm (grow their own food) a person would have to be there, in person, for a long while, then they might have some success when they showed how well they could grow foods.
Just telling the Sioux how to do something so far from their natural way of living, even today, does not make them understand or listen.
Providing help is definitely appreciated, but to teach one how to feed themselves by growing foods, that must be done in person.
It is a hard thing for all, those who wish to help this way and those who would greatly benefit from learning how to do this thing.
It has only been in the last 30 years that the elders have come to terms with the need for us to heal ourselves so we can go forward with meaning.
Our youth have not been taught as they were in the past, by showing, once they are ready to learn things.
Most parents do not know how to be proper Native parents, showing love, giving direction, guiding the children so they know bad things from good things, right from wrong.
Many times it is the alcohol, drugs and the abuse that comes from those things taking over the spirit that ends up with a suicide or murder.
We are trying to heal ourselves and cast out all the negative things that have been inside us since the 1800's, it is a long journey back to the red road, but there is progress made every day.
Phila'waye to all who choose to help the people, those I will happily call kola (friend).
I think my mentor of the medicine path said it well. "For us to thrive again, we must first forgive then we must heal by casting out all that evil, then we must educate those who are looking for the red road."
I realize it's been awhile since reply, and I hope things are progressing.
I recently purchased a copy of the Native American Ethnobotany. As I was referencing it I remembered this post from awhile back. Would arming the tribe with recorded knowledge of how many of the native peoples lived and flourished on the natural landscape be well received? Would it be a way to spark inspiration and pride and cultural education? Perhaps a determination to revive and replicate old traditions and almost-lost knowledge? I don't know of any other books quite like this Ethnobotany book, but they may be out there! Perhaps that could be a worthwhile donation to the tribe? And perhaps it could spark specific requests for aid; seeds and saplings of native plant species, tools for cultivating and propagating natural, wild, traditional foods? I believe this book details some 44,000 uses of plants across the nation, citing which tribes used them for what, from food to fiber to medicine to dye to ceremonial use.
My cousin’s daughter is Lakota, so this thread has my attention. I will probably retire in the next few years. After retirement, I would be interested in going to see if I could help. Maybe we could get a small group together? It’s too soon for me to make actual plans because I don’t know when I will retire yet. Just thought I’d put it out there as something to think about.
Thanks for the like on my post! :) It was a reminder about this. I was able to send another small grocery shipment (salmon + walnuts) this month. My understanding from what I've read in books, seen in documentaries, etc, is that it many times healthy protein is not easily available to people who live on the reservations, not like there should be. Obviously sending food through the mail isn't permaculture, doesn't address land rights issues, etc., but it's what I can do this month.
I was president of my college's Native American Student Association in undergrad and have a lot of connections/manpower available if anyone still needs help. As most of them are college kids/academics, the most in terms of natural food we could probably do is a purchase or donation, but everyone would be more than willing to help.
Oh, I know of Chief Canupa of the Buffalo Society. I had these friends about 2 years ago who were delivering food and providing security. I wonder if they are who he mentioned? Anyways, I was working with Spotted Elk of the Elk Society to design a school. My stepdad (who is an HVAC expert) helped me design a cooling system that worked by convection or by burning wood. I sent Spotted Elk my designs and haven't spoken to him in about a year. No idea how things are going.
Someone upthread mentioned OLCERI (the Oglala Lakota Cultural & Economic Revitalization Initiative). Just wanted to shout out that OLCERI is very much still around & is running strong, working heavily on healthy food initiatives/food hubs (one hub gave out more than 33,000 plant starts last year for Lakota gardens) and sustainable housing. They are also establishing food forests (Mark Shephard's nursery is donating 50 hazel bushes this spring) and other perennial plantings to meet the need for firewood, tools, etc. Hopefully, the Indigenous Wisdom Center will be completed this year, which will provide housing for year-round volunteers.
And they've hosted the Indigenous Wisdom & Permaculture Skills Convergence for the past three years (no word yet on this year's).
You can learn more at www.olceri.org, or for the convergence, www,iwpsconvergence.com.
I know OLCERI is always is need of funds and I believe they are working on an Amazon wish list page.
Would it be possible to scholarship two Lakota people, one female, one male, of their choosing, for the PDC and ATC this summer? You know, giving them a fish vs. teaching them to fish. Maybe we could get them a ride share from S.D. to Montana?
Maybe every year this scholarship could exist for different native peoples?
Think of the karmic brownie points you would be accumulating.
Thank you for considering my suggestions/requests.