We at Worldwide Hunger Relief were blessed to be able to send another load of clothing and household items to our brothers and sisters on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Many local individuals and churches collected good quality clothing, children’s items, and household items. We stored them at a local warehouse and we packed 13 pallets of items (a half semi load). The pallets were picked up by our friends from the Hutterite Colony in Gibbon Minnesota. Our Hutterite friends collected another 13 pallets of clothing and other necessities and put an entire truckload of goods together.
Early Last Sunday morning, our friend John Neisen, the head of Feeding Children International of Stewart Minnesota, drove to Gibbon with his semi, picked up the goods and delivered them to the reservation. On Sunday afternoon he dropped off half the load in Wanblee with Jerome and Theresa High Horse. Then, the next morning he dropped the rest off in Kyle at the Oyate Teca office. Rose Fraser of Oyate Teca works with youths and families in the Kyle area and they were extremely appreciative of goods they received from us.
Because of the poverty of the area and the total lack of stores in Pine Ridge, everything we shipped found a grateful and thankful home with people who are much in need. That we were able to send an entire semi load of supplies to help literally thousands of people, and that we were able to do it without spending a single dollar fills me with amazement and gratitude. Special thanks to Joel Decker of the Hutterite Colony and to John Neisen of Feeding Children International for their more than generous donation of free trucking. Additional thanks to Jerome and Theresa high Horse and Rose Fraser for their work and dedication to helping the Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge.
We’re already collecting another truckload for the reservation. Please send me an email fi you have items to donate or would like to help our cause.
Thank you and God Bless.
Pine Ridge Food Distribution December 24, 2011
Dear Friends of Worldwide Hunger Relief,
Monday, December 19 was a beautiful day on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The weather was a sunny, gorgeous, almost 60 degree day. Definitely not what one would expect this time of year. At 8:00 A.M. on this beautiful day, a semi trailer of frozen meat and other foodstuffs made its first stop in the town of Wanblee. Through the donation of meat and other protein rich products, our organization was able to pack 1,000 boxes of food, weighing almost 35,000 pounds and deliver it to the Lakota in Pine Ridge. Many local people worked tirelessly to sort, separate, and package the meat in boxes. Our friends at the Hutterite Colony in Gibbon Minnesota donated the use of their semi tractor and refrigerated trailer and paid the considerable cost of the fuel to deliver the meat to the reservation.
Once on the reservation we partnered with several Lakota to help distribute the meat to shut ins, elderly, and country people who were in great need for food. Jerome High Horse took care of the towns of Wanblee, and Allen, and also saw to it that the Crazy Horse School had extra food to send home with the children on their Christmas break. The indomitable Rose Fraser handled Kyle, Sharps Corner, Porcupine and Wounded Knee. And finally my good friend Bamm Brewer took over the distribution in Wakpamni, Oglala, and Red Shirt.
Bamm told me that when he helped unload boxes on Oglala, it hit him that here were the poorest people in the poorest place in America and they were happy and smiling because of what we did for them. He said that it put a lump in his throat and almost made him cry. Bamm’s a tough guy, raises horses and buffalo on his ranch, so the efforts that we made, alongside our Lakota brothers and sisters, deeply touched the hearts of our Lakota friends.
Along with the 1,000 food boxes, we also sent 200 pounds of smoked ham and all the sides for the Wanblee Christmas Party that was going to be cancelled because of the lack of food and money. We fed hundreds of people and made Christmas special for them. We sent a special shipment of “fixin’s” to Bamm so that he could prepare chili for several hundred riders of the Bigfoot ride. This ride takes place during Christmas and culminates in a gathering in the town of Pine Ridge on December 29. The ride commemorates the massacre of almost 300 women and children by the U.S. army at Wounded Knee, one of the most shameful acts ever committed by our country. That we are able to provide the food for the rider’s final night’s dinner fills me with a very special satisfaction.
I wish to thank everyone who helped make this food distribution possible, both here in Wisconsin, our Hutterite friends in Minnesota, and our Lakota Brothers and sisters in Pine Ridge.
God’s peace and blessings to you all. Karl Ralian, President
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Food Delivery April 27, 2011
On Monday, April 18, 2011, we delivered another 30,000+ pounds of meat products to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. This is the second delivery and we have now delivered in excess of 70,000 pounds of assorted meat products to the Lakota of Pine Ridge. This time the distribution was different because my wife Carol and I, along with George and Vickie Tuft drove to the reservation and helped distribute the food to the people.
We left on Sunday at 6:00 A.M. and drove…and drove…and drove. I don’t remember what time we reached Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but I remember that I was quite happy to finally be in the right state. What I didn’t realize is that South Dakota is REALLY wide and we were only halfway into our trip. Around 10:00 (11:00 our time) we reached the campground in Hermosa and crashed for a much needed rest.
The next morning we awoke to the excitement of 3-4 inches of snow on the ground and a weather forecast that called for an entire day of snow, rain, sleet and whatever else God chose to throw at us. We fired up the RV and drove into the reservation to our first stop, which was the small hamlet of Red Shirt. The food was to be distributed in a senior center that was on the end of a very small driveway. I remember thinking that there was no way that the truck was ever going to make it past the tiny driveway entrance, guarded by two deep ditches. Well, I was wrong about the truck making it into the driveway, and Luke from the Hutterite Brethren backed the truck right up to the door of the senior center. Practically the entire town turned out to unload the food and then stand in line for their box of frozen meat. The feeling that we got from being blessed to be able to be there with the people and share in their happiness and excitement is impossible to describe. You really had to be there to experience it for yourself, and it is my hope that many of you will be able to accompany us on subsequent trips.
While I was wrong about Luke making it into the driveway, leaving was another matter: the rear wheels of the semi trailer went into the ditch. Every Lakota with a pickup truck decided that they were going to be able to pull the trailer out of the ditch. Calmer heads would have noted the impossibility of the task, but they HAD to try. One by one, and then two by two they all tried and failed. Finally, Ted Skantze, the Executive Director of Re-Member, and the person who arranged the distribution, called a Tow Company in Custer, South Dakota, and after a very long wait a huge Peterbilt wrecker pulled up, and in short time pulled the semi out of the ditch. Now being four hours behind we made haste to drive to the second Distribution site.
After about an hour’s drive, we reached the second distribution site, Oglala and quickly distributed the food to make up some of the lost time. From Oglala we drove through the town of Pine Ridge and eventually made it to the next distribution site, Wounded Knee. This is the site where one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history occurred. On December 29, 1890, members of the U.S. 7th Cavalry surrounded a band of Spotted Elk’s Lakota Sioux and indiscriminately fired into the camp, killing over 150 men, women and children. Then, to add to the shame, soldiers hunted down many of the women and children who fled and shot and killed them.
The cold, wet, gray, weather added to our sadness to be in a place of such sorrow. I looked down on the food distribution from a little hill and saw a line of once proud people waiting patiently for their handout of food. It bothered me immensely that our government herded them into a place where they can not make a living for themselves and furthermore, the Lakota are reduced to accepting food from the very people who have put them into this position. I saw how the people who were actually handing out the food to the Lakota were white, and while George and Ted have devoted their lives to helping the Lakota, I wished that we whites were in the background and that the Lakota were the ones handing the food to their own people. In future distributions I will see to it that the food distribution is a Lakota program with Lakota in charge and the ones in view in the interaction with their people.
As we went through the reservation, making stops and handing out food, we also set up a table where we handed out cooked brats, Italian sausages, hot dogs, coffee and lemonade and apples to the people who came to get food. The hot food was happily received and we got many thank you’s and compliments on our thoughtfulness. Carol and Vickie did an excellent job with the food and they made many people happy.
We made additional stops in Porcupine, Kyle, and Wanblee, and all of them were similar. All featured terrible weather and parking lots that were a sea of sticky mud. Our RV that we were so proud of looked like a fugitive from a junkyard. As dirty as the RV looked, we felt right in place parking next to the Lakota vehicles which were a museum of automotive styling from the past 40 years. Our RV easily out-valued all of the other cars there combined and I was acutely conscious and embarrassed by that fact. A number of Lakota came up to me and good naturedly told me that if I left the RV there overnight it would have a family of 20 Lakota living in it tomorrow. I heard this same joke in a slightly changed form at every stop, and I countered that because of the large stature of the Lakota, 20 would be a maximum. However, when we took the RV to Big Bend National Park in Texas along the Rio Grande, the joke there was that if we left the RV overnight it would have 40 (smaller) Mexicans in it the next day. That seemed to go over quite well and I got a few back slaps that almost knocked me over.
”Tweet” impressions of Pine Ridge
With the exception of the town of Pine Ridge, there are almost no businesses on the rez.
Topsoil on the rez is like a coat of paint. Scratch it and the scar gets larger and larger, exposing the clay underneath. New “badlands” in the making
The tribal elders have the history of their people etched in the creases of their faces. Loss and despair mixed with stoicism and determination.
The Lakota are BIG people. Physically imposing.
Verna Yellowhorse, a waifish old lady came up and hugged me. Said she was soooo happy to get food. Her daughter died and she was raising her grandkids. Verna said, “Ya gotta put a lot of food through kids nowadays”.
The vast majority of housing on the rez would be condemned as unfit for human habitation anywhere else in the U.S.
The average 1,000 sq. ft. (or smaller) home or trailer on the rez will house as many as 20 people.
Most houses have black mold growing everywhere because of the humid conditions due to so many people in each house.
Lakota elders are treated with respect by the people. We could learn a lot from them.
The Lakota need everything. Tricky to help them without creating dependence and taking their pride away
Many asked “when are you guys coming again”. Good question.
Besides collecting and delivering food, what else can we do to partner with the Lakota to help themselves? I have two ideas for discussion. When we were in Wanblee, we met Jerome High Horse and his wife Theresa. Jerome is that rarest of all Lakota with their 85-90% unemployment, a man who had a good job with the US Government, and now a decent pension with great benefits and full health insurance. Jerome and Theresa dedicate themselves to helping their people. Jerome took us to see their Youth Center, built with a U.S. Education Grant. The building was outstanding and had the only paved parking lot I saw on the rez. Everything was relatively new and clean, but with the exception of a gym and 2 basketball hoops, the building was empty. It had a number of classrooms that had nothing in them.
Jerome explained that they had no money whatsoever to operate the Youth center and they had great difficulty in coming up with the funds to heat and light the building. They had plans for a computer center and a Home Economics classroom in addition to other programs but couldn’t fund any of them. Individually, each program or classroom could be supported with a relatively small amount of money or help. Easy for us, but difficult for the Lakota. My thought is that individual churches could sponsor a program and make a multi year commitment to take on the responsibility of funding it.
I see this as a peer to peer program with the local church’s youth groups being the primary fund raisers/equipment drive collectors. For example, a craft class needs supplies of all kinds. Nothing whatsoever is available on the reservation but acquiring supplies and raising funds to purchase other supplies are easily done by us with proper motivation. Rather than spending a week at the reservation on a Mission trip, our youths can make a dramatic and permanent difference in the lives of a large number of Lakota kids. Cross cultural visits, dedication to a specific program, and the spiritual uplift that comes from helping to change the life of a Lakota young person who you have come to know as a friend, makes this program commitment easily as important to our kids as it does to the Lakota kids.
The other program that I would like to propose is a result of the unbelievable poverty that the Lakota endure. With almost universal unemployment, the Lakota eke out an existence from the $100.00 per month that each adult Lakota gets from the U.S. Government as payment for having stolen their land and herding them into an area where the land cannot support them. Every dollar becomes important when you live on the edge, but the handful of stores on the reservation charge exorbitant prices for everything. There are no Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other used goods stores on the reservation, and one couldn’t find a place with greater need for a store with good, affordable items of all kinds.
In our throwaway society, what could be easier than collecting items to ship to the reservation and work with the Lakota to set up their own store(s) to sell items at very low cost to their people? Theresa High Horse has wanted to do this for a long time and she would be a great person to deal with. Having access to quality items, clothing, housewares, furniture, etc., would profoundly improve the lives of the Lakota people of Pine Ridge. This is something that could be started almost immediately and I would be glad to offer space in my warehouse to store items to be sent to Pine Ridge.
Thanks to Joel Decker of the Hutterite Brethren in Gibbon MN for donating the Freezer truck and paying the cost to ship the frozen meat to the reservation.
Thanks to Mike Lynch of Blood N’ Fire Ministries who got us together with Joel of the Hutterite Brethren. Mike’s dedication to feeding the poor is an inspiration to us all.
Thanks to my church, Christ our Savior Lutheran Church in Sussex for donating hundreds and hundreds of coloring books, crayons, and reading books for the children of Pine Ridge. A big box of books and crayons went with each delivery vehicle to accompany the food. We made a lot of kids very happy!
Thanks to George and Vickie Tuft for their help in hundreds of ways and their knowledge of the reservation and of Lakota ways.
Thanks most of all to Ted Skantze for setting up the distribution and the many hours it took to see that everything went smoothly. That many thousands of people received protein rich foods is due entirely to his hard work and dedication. Call to action
If any readers of this letter are interested in working to help the Lakota of Pine Ridge, please send me an email of your interest and intent, whether it is personal or as a representative of a church or other group. With sufficient interest, I will host a meeting (dinner included?) to plan on how we can move forward with some specific programs to partner with the Lakota.
Karl’s Update on Haiti, Pine Ridge and Planned Projects June 2011
Dear Friends Of Worldwide Hunger Relief,
We have now completed all of our spring packs and are looking forward to a quiet summer of fun and relaxation. This year, so far, has been interesting, to say the least. First of all, we conducted more food packs in the first 6 months of 2011 than all of the food packs put together since we started packing food three years ago! We have formed an association with Food for the Poor which is paying the cost of shipping and distributing our food to the neediest in Haiti. They have distributed our food mostly to orphanages and we are delighted with their help and friendship. And finally, we have sent 2 containers overseas, one to Haiti and one to Honduras. We have another container ready to go and are just waiting for FFTP to send it so we can fill it with lifesaving food. This will make a total of 800,000 meals shipped to nourish hungry children.
On the home front, we have been made aware of the plight of the Oglala Lakota nation on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. It’s hard to find words to describe the conditions that many of these once proud people are forced to live under. Through our association with Feeding America, we have shipped 2 full semi loads of frozen meat products to the reservation and distributed these boxes of assorted meats to the poorest of the Lakota. Both shipments were sent at the end of the month when many have run out of food and starvation is a very real possibility. We have one more semi load of frozen meat products to ship, and because of issues sending Wisconsin slated food out of state, our distribution of food on the reservation will soon end. This is very disappointing to us, but we are already making plans to help insure food security on the reservation.
Following is a list of initiatives and projects that we are planning. At the end of the list is a link where you can sign up to help us in any of the projects that you may be interested in.
Help for Haiti – We will start planning a major fall food pack for Haiti, and combine the pack with a “celebration of Haitian culture.” Our thought is to showcase elements of Haitian culture, dance, music, food, art, etc. in conjunction with the pack. I have had conversations with Food for the Poor as a co-sponsor of the pack and we are starting to search for dance troupes and musicians to invite to the pack. Properly done, this will be an amazing event and we are looking for volunteers to help us plan and run this event.
Pine Ridge Food Security & Gardening Project We are Addressing the hunger situation on the reservation with two programs. The first is the purchase of a 24’ box truck to haul food from Rapid City to the reservation. Worldwide Hunger Relief will open an account with Feeding South Dakota, Inc. to purchase food products at a cost of $0.18 per pound. The truck will go to FSD on a regular basis to purchase and bring back food for the people of the reservation. We have been assured that this low price is within the reach of most, if not all, of the Lakota. There aren’t any food stores on the reservation and what food is available in the few Mini- Marts is of poor quality and sky high prices. The plan is that our reservation staffer will go to Rapid City at least once per week and purchase food products and then set up a “store” in one of the community centers to distribute the products. We plan to distribute both frozen and shelf stable food along with fresh vegetables as we can get them. We will weigh the food and charge $0.20 per pound, using the extra $0.02 to help cover the cost of the fuel for the truck.
We are finalizing plans to start a family garden project in the towns of Wanblee and Kyle on the reservation. Later this summer we will take rototillers and gardening tools, along with fencing and posts, to the Rez. Because the soil is so poor we will be purchasing dump truck loads of manure to spread on the soil and roto-till in. Because we will be doing this yet this summer, we will have an early start on next year’s growing season. We hope to work with Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power, to help us with the gardening project. Our goal is to put in at least 50 gardens and one or two hoop greenhouses to start seedlings for next year’s growing season. We estimate the cost per garden of at least $100.00, so fundraising is an important component to the plan. We will be looking for cash donations, donations of gardening tools, and volunteers to go to Pine Ridge to work alongside the Lakota to put the gardens in.
Thrift Store- We have donated the box truck to our reservation contacts, Jerome and Theresa High Horse, of Wanblee, South Dakota. They have a calling to open a Thrift Store on the reservation, along the lines of a Good Will store. We are in the process of collecting items for them to sell on the reservation. At present we have close to a full truckload of goods, and we are actively looking for church groups and other organizations that want to work with us to collect items to send. A small portion of the money that is raised through the sale of items will be used to cover the expense of the trucking costs and all of the rest of the money will be used for charity to help the Lakota regain a decent life style.
Housing project-There are upwards of 50,000 people on the reservation, and there are approximately 3,000 dwellings there, which means that many of the houses have upwards of 20 people in them. The houses are either small 2 bedroom government built crackerjack homes, or old mobile homes that came to the reservation to die. Very few of the mobile homes are what a reasonable person would consider livable, and most of the government homes have massive black mold problems due to the humid conditions with so many people living together. Things are so bad on the reservation that many of the abandoned cars are used for sleeping quarters in all but the severest weather. We will be undertaking a building project to build homes for 2 brothers, Roland and Donald Morrison, who live in conditions that we find totally unacceptable. We will be using technology that is over 100 years old and is a throwback to the pioneers on the Nebraska prairie. We will be building them homes made of straw bales with a shed roof, and covered in a stucco mixture of clay, sand and Portland cement. We would like to do an “Extreme makeover- Home Edition, Pine Ridge style”, and build both homes in a week. I believe that it can be done and can be done for very little money. Since the brothers live 15 miles from the nearest road and 11 miles from the closest electrical connection, the homes will not have electricity, water or plumbing. We are planning on sending a number of builders to the Rez and getting a large number of Lakota men to help in the construction. This is all unskilled labor and we see this as on-the-job training for the Lakota. Once we have proof of concept and have a good idea of actual costs, we can look for funding to build more homes, using the labor that we have trained so that Lakota people can build homes for their own people.
If any of these projects are of interest to you and you would like to learn more about them, please click here sign up for more information and/or to become a part of these very exciting and spiritually rewarding projects.
Peace and blessings,
To download/print a PDF version of this letter, click here.