Heading for the Rez - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-04-2012, 12:57 AM   #1
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Heading for the Rez

Just finished my grades (except one who may have to be failed) at 12:45 AM. Getting up at 4 AM and heading for out for our yearly volunteering on the Rez. We put donations into our Uhaul and then stay in it when we are volunteering. The organization where we stay lets us park it and plug it in. The camper lets us get some sleep instead of lying awake while the college kids are staying up and kibitzing.

Last time, I pulled electrical wire in a home that burned using a honking big power drill and drill bit. I hope my rotten tennis elbow is up to something like that again (and my knee that went out on my when I was going up a ladder the last time we were there. Damn arthritis!), because I love power tools!

Catching a couple of days at campgrounds out there too.

CindyL
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:44 AM   #2
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hpe you have a great time. isn't it amaising how sometimes hard work and discomfort ,,,makes us feel good?
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:43 AM   #3
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There's a special place in heaven for those that volunteer in life.

Safe travels
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Old 05-16-2012, 04:47 PM   #4
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Had a great time. We built 4 outhouses for cash-strapped Indians who have their electricity shut off. We were slowed by loss of electricity one AM. We also skirted a trailer and placed one of the outhouses on site. For every screw, we changed a life.

Afterwards, we visited Wind Cave, Crazy Horse (and took an updated image of the Uhaul against the carving to see the progress), Mt. Rushmore, and Custer State Park. Wonderful images of all, especially the baby buffalo and prairie dogs (not to mention the marmot who just did his marmot thing and listened to me).


CindyL

PS: Repaired/new surge brakes worked well! Yeah!
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Old 05-16-2012, 04:51 PM   #5
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Well done, Young Jedi!

Pine Ridge?
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Old 05-16-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation. Among the poorest 3 counties in the country. 90% unemployment. We volunteer there once a year for a week.


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Old 05-29-2012, 11:54 AM   #7
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My grandmother was half Lakota Sioux and know that her spirit smiles on you for your work.
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Old 05-29-2012, 01:13 PM   #8
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Thank you. It means a lot to us to be able to help.

CindyL
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Old 05-29-2012, 01:16 PM   #9
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I haven't been to that reservation, but trips to similarly impoverished places in the western hemisphere has made me decide to never ever ever complain about petty stuff ever again. Well, at least to try, anyway.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:55 PM   #10
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Yes, most of us go to bed full every night. Not the children on Pine Ridge. When the federal subsidies run out two weeks into the month, and there are no jobs, there is no food.

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Old 05-30-2012, 08:26 AM   #11
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Good work! The Virginia tribes have been fighting for recognition for a long time now- a lot of whites don't understand the tribes are still here/viable. Luckily the economy is much better here.
Do the outhouses/new structures you build follow styles the tribal members build themselves? I've heard of cases from the southwestern reservations where volunteers have built new housing but the folks only use it for certain purposes, still doing their cooking outside, etc.- partly because of tradition and partly because their old adobes or other structures have insulation/designs more in tune with the local climate/seasons/uses. (I'm an archaeologist but trained in an anthropology department). Do you get much time to talk to folks about the area's history, stories, etc?

love prairie dogs and especially marmots!
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:18 AM   #12
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The outhouses we build are a pretty standard style that you might have seen on farms 60 - 70 years ago. Because the need is so great, there aren't any complaints from the Lakota residents about style!

Since we have been to Pine Ridge 6 times now, we do have time to visit with folks about local history and culture. However, the local Lakota who provided these stories no longer work for the organization that spearheads these efforts, so we didn't get the chance to do much visiting this year. Because of family needs and other personal reasons, it is difficult to find Pine Ridge residents who choose to commit to a regular work schedule at Re-Member, our volunteer organization. If there is a family celebration or the family needs to plant the garden or...., they don't show up for work. Our cook who was scheduled to work during our week there didn't come at all and that is not unusual. People there refer to it as "Indian time," but it is just a different set of priorities than we have in our busy lives. It's not wrong... just different than we are used to.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:28 AM   #13
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Yes, I know tribal recognition situations and why VA has so much trouble (Plecker). I belong to a state-recognized tribe that will never be federally recognized (at least I assume), because they don't meet the narrow BIA guidelines for recognition. That is how we ended up on Pine Ridge was genealogy, i.e.following up NA ancestors. One was on Rosebud in the 1910 census, and in looking, I found the Re-Member organization where we work. In fact, that is how we ended up with our first FBRV. We signed up to volunteer, and the closer it got, the more we were unsure of sleeping arrangements, because their website was sketchy at the time. We bought our Burro for sleeping, but then stayed in the Re-Member bunkhouses.
The structure of the outhouses has no religious connotation. In fact, the last time we were there, the college group that was there with us designed new cutouts that I thought might be offensive. However, when your electricity has been cut off and your toilet does not work, I doubt you spend much time being offended by the tipi-shaped hole in the door.

We talked to folks during earlier visits, but the discussions mainly revolved around education, as we are both educators, and the current local political situation. As for their cultural beliefs, we have listened to speakers but really have only scratched the surface. I bought a book on the sundance when we were out there. One of the college faculty from the college that was working ther was heavily involved in the religion and fully participated in the sundance.
We do visit Wounded Knee and hear that story (this time told by a Lakota) and hear a speaker who was actively involved in Wounded Knee II, but we would need more time there to really know stories. We visited with Ed McGaa for a time when we were there and read his books, as well as many others.
It was a great time of year to go. Nice weather and baby prairie dogs!

Pix:
The two of us working on skirting for a trailer
A finished outhouse
Two images of a camper the size of ours with paper thin walls where a man lived all year round. We finished a house for him that the contractor stole his money and left a shell.
Baby prairie dogs
Marmot (He was not scared just annoyed that we bothered his eating.)

CindyL
Attached Thumbnails
Us working.jpg   Outhouse.jpg  

Outhouse crippled.jpg   Outhouse crippled 2.jpg  

baby prairie dogs.jpg   baby prairie dog.jpg  

marmot.jpg  
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:01 AM   #14
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Looks good! Sounds like you're doing a great job!
I wasn't necessarily thinking in terms of religion, just funny how some cultural differences can turn out to be important when neither side even realizes they were there.
I have friends who are Cherokee, Pamunkey, and Mattaponi members and have talked with Monocans and Lumbee as far as our tribes in Virginia and NC. I've visited the Navajo and Pueblo country and northwest coast/Alaska and went to the powwow in Pittsburgh a couple times. Never been to the Dakotas- maybe someday soon. Always nice to reboot your perspectives talking to folks on the road

What an awesome marmot shot! We stopped at a prairie dog town in Texas but they just took the food and ran before we could get many nice pix
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