Pine Ridge Reservation Commonwealth; The Good, The Bad and In between
August 17, 2015

History
The members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation puts emphasis on the youth of the modern times are known as the 7th generation. This generation holds significance because the youths born in this era are brought up in a new world of technology, a new languageĀ (the original language is not primary) and very little to no knowledge of our traditional practices. This make or break generation will determine the legacy of the Black Hills, our sacred land believed to be the source of our spiritual power.

The Black Hills, what Lakotas take pride in as where we come from
The Black Hills, what Lakotas take pride in as where we come from

Health
Pine Ridge Reservation has declared state of emergency for years about the suicide epidemic being 3.2 times higher than the national average. The mental health crisis opened the reservation’s eyes and recognized that our youth needs help in coming out of this contagious depression. The topic deemed as controversial but there is no solution in getting over or around this problem, only getting through the youth is key to solution.

Youth from the Leadership Camp practicing prayer through making tobacco ties
Youth from the Leadership Camp practicing prayer through making tobacco ties

Sense of Place
In times of adversity, many community members and the youth themselves are stepping up and being more open to one another. Traditional practices such as ceremonies and sweat lodges are regularly performed to purify our spirits and clear minds of negativity. We’re reminded our spirituality is who we are and why we are here. Loved ones no longer walking this earth are kept in memory while the youths alive and well that are continuing their education, sacred practices, and community involvement are recognized in honor.

In peace, our youth knows our reservation. In hard times, our reservation knows our youth.- Francine Richards