Friday, July 6, 2007

Why I came back

I know the last blog might have thrown you off. It's not a complaint about living here. And if you came here you may not see "ghetto." For real you would see 3rd world country conditions.
I seen it when i came back. Now it don't phase me. All the trash and such.
Which is harsh that I don't care as much as I used to. I mean I do, but now it's the way of life...or A way of life.
People live here without electricity, water, plumbing. Not everyone but I bet everyone here knows or is related to someone that does.
That's how it is on the reservation. The life expectancy here is the lowest in the nation.
I'm sick of it being like this. Sick of it.
I know one person can't change it. I know I can't. But I came back because this is my home and I'm sick of it never changing. This is my home and I need a place for my kids to go home to. We have roots here. I'm sick of it but I love being home.

2002 Current Statistics Concerning the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation

by Stephanie M. Schwartz

UPDATE! For 2006 update, please read Stephanie's latest article: The Arrogance of Ignorance
* Median income is $2,600 per year with 85% to 95% unemployment
* Infant mortality rate 300% higher than the U.S. national average
* Diabetes and Tuberculosis rates 800% higher t than the U.S. national average
* Elderly die each winter from hypothermia (freezing)
* At least 60% of the homes are severely substandard, without water, electricity, adequate insulation, and sewage systems
* School drop-out rate is 70%
* Recent reports state the average life expectancy is 45 years old while other reports state that it is 48 years old for men and 52 years old for women.

* With either set of figures, that's the shortest life expectancy for any community in the Western Hemisphere outside Haiti, according to The Wall Street Journal.
* And the list goes on and on….


big neddy said...

wow, dana.
its one thing to think you understand whats going on over there.
and then, when you put #s to it, it boggles the mind.
no wonder you want to make a difference.

Josie Two Shoes said...

This is one of our country's best kept worst secrets. No one believes how bad it is there until I start showing them the statistics. They think I make this stuff up.

When you returned to the rez with your family, you knew that job opportunities would be minimal, and all that comes with that would become your way of life.

My question is... WHO is going to take the steps to start changing it, and HOW? It is easy to place the blame on how this situation evolved, but blame placing isn't resolving anything at this point. Neither, as you've pointed out before, are the endless government and church-related handouts. It just creates a handout mentality.

I see people taking what little money they have, and sometimes spending it very foolishly, and I try to understand that. I guess it comes from living with nothing so long that you give up trying. There is no way to make ends meet anyway, I know that.

Are there any answers? Will people there stand up and say "We won't live this way anymore, we deserve better, and we need to make it happen, not wait for it to come to us?" God, I hope so, and soon!

Dana Dane said...

i tend to spend my money foolishly...sometimes its easier that way, you know?
I don't know if that will ever happen but damn i hope it does. I once wanted to write about it and a relative told me well you can "write about things or you can do something about"

Alissa said...

So you can't change everyone's way of life one's life on the rez, but what are you going to do to better yours and your children's? How are you going to beat the odds of your life expectancy and keep your water and power on? Or keep your kids in school?

These stats are a harsh reality and its alarming that our government continues to sit by, but it does. So because it's every man for himself, Dana, please tell me you have a plan to live better than this...

Dana Dane said...

well its not really a matter of keepin my water and lights on....its a matter of these people don't HAVE water and lights because they live so far away from everything. Or the housing shortage is so that they live where they can even if it means no lights and water. I am lucky that I have a house with all that already.
I have plans to better the lives of me and my children already...let's just pray it works. I grew up middle class and to go down from there is harsh, but this is the only life my kids have known and I know it makes them stronger, even though I hate for them to experience it. This is the only life they known, even when I had a job.
Schools just around the corner.

DeeAnne said...

That is incredibly sad. I do think you make a difference though. Every single time you put something like this out makes a difference...someone who didn't know something, learned soemthing..that is how things REALLY change, education.

Missy A said...

I suppose you have heard that here they are sending in more police to the Northern Territory, policing boundaries prohibiting alcohol, stopping welfare for those who's kids aren't in school the list goes on
Its harsh and some of the Aboriginal community's are up in arms others no problem on;y the ones where they haven't helped themselves and sat there with a hand out for years are being policed
Its the same here, kids die from preventable diseases, adults from alcohol and diabetes.
Ok so it is wrong that the government is making aboriginal kids learn English
Kids must learn english
and not their own lingo but at least our government cares enough to do something even if it is a step backwards in time to the 50's era of control

PS. hope that link works and doesn't come out gobbledegook it's a link to the post I rote a while back

Alissa said...

This life will make your kids appreciate anything that they get that much more, Dana. Giving kids everything they ever want isn't what kids need. Megan was spoiled for the first 5 years, seriously. Not just because we bought her things, but everyone in my family gave her anything and everything she ever asked for, and even things she didn't. We had to put a stop to it, like sit down and talk to people about it, and are now trying to undo the damage that was done, as far as what she expects from people, and what she's expected to do.

I think growing up with little, makes you appreciate what you gain in adulthood, and just because people are financially able to give what they didn't have as a child, doesn't mean they should. We learned that in 5 years and are trying very hard to fix it, and not make the same mistake with our son.

I'm happy to know that you have a plan for yourself and your kids. I never thought of you as the sit back and be a victim of circumstance type, as you can often find, when people feel hopeless. It really is a tragic situation. I wonder what it would take to light the fire within, to get the people to demand better...

Dana Dane said...

where there is no hope you have people turning to mama said that

Alissa said...

Your mama is a smart lady... This really was an awesome post which sparked some great dialog.

Jeepers said...

It's a shame that this still goes on in the country..but on the other hand..I also know how a lot of people are..and well even though I am not full Indian..I am people did the same thing for many years..It's who they grandfather didn't having running water, or even an indoor bathroom..but in a way that I can't express I understand your need to be home..home is where the heart is..and your heart truly belongs on the reservation

Dana Dane said...

Exactly Jeepers...exactly. I choose to live here. This is me.
I don't choose to live in poverty but the closest thing I can get to a job is 15 dollars per column entry. And my beadwork.
My dad don't have running water or an indoor toilet... He used to have it but he moved out to his land and that is how it is to live on his land. I hope to move out there someday but I am not going without water and a toilet lol.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to your jadedness--I got the same way in Milwaukee's inner city. You writing about this is a good start for change--I had no idea...

Dana Dane said...

it is one thing to open eyes, it is another to say i want to give to the people...i wrote about it once before...handouts are expected....almost demanded and i am sick of that too, i understand people wanting to help but they have no idea that really it isn't help.
this change does have to come from within or i wished when people wanted to help they would build something here that employs....or someth8ing we haves thousands out of jobs, therefore no hope. if someone opened a factory here can you imagine all the hope there would be....i dunno

Dana Dane said...

just in case anyone was column was denied thsi week lol

Anonymous said...

Maybe you are my long lost twin or something?? I feel the same about hand outs---welfare system is only to keep the people in their place--can't stand the "bleeding heart liberals" that advocate for it. But I hate the right wing "reform" too.

Dana Dane said...

The whole reform thing is full of crap..never worked. They say they have records of success stories, then I asked how many of "Those success stories" live below the poverty level and they had no answer because they never did that kind of research. That was Senator John Thune's office. I am sire every state senator hates me...well the states that i lived in anyways

Anonymous said...

well--you can count me in those ranks!! Who to vote for in the next presidential election?? I can't vote for a single one of those automatons.

Dana Dane said...

one time i was buzzed up and wrote an 11 page letter to Tom Daschle...he wrote back in about a month and signed it. We was going to keep in touch after the election, then he lost to that nitwit thune....that's how my luck goes.

Anonymous said...

you certainly have a lot of energy---you're actually inspiring me--I've beem lulled into some sort of fantasy since moving from the hood---it's time for this lazy girl to get back to work and cause some trouble

Dana Dane said...

i inspired you to cause trouble??? lol, perhaps my one bad citique was right

Anonymous said...

no--the "good" kind of trouble---I promise.

Dana Dane said...

i was wondering if anyone clicked the update on that article i copied and goes so in depth it shocked even me...and i live here

Javacat said...

I'm with Alissa...change starts with you and yours. It's now your job to make sure that your kids have more opportunities than you did and make the best decisions about education. We can only change that which we have control over.

CarolinaDreamz said...


Is this common to have your article rejected?

Thank you for sharing these statistics. I didn't know. I'm not sure what anyone can do that ISN'T right there, and like you said.. a factory or corporation warehouse could help..

what other ideas do you see that outsiders can "give" or "contribute". If handouts don't work (which I'm fully aware of why..) what things can say a family do to help your local area?


stacy said...

I came across (and read) a copy of "The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge" a few years ago. Guess I was hoping that things might have improved some from the conditions described at the end of the book. I don't know what the answers are, but I'd like to help be a part of the solution somehow. My husband and I have both spent time in Haiti and on the Navajo rez (not preaching, but doing physical work). Something in the mentality has to change, but how?