Fort Robinson State Park
We started off our day traveling to Fort Robinson State Park. Along with holding 22,000 acres of Pine Ridge scenery, buffalo herds, and exhibits, Ft. Robinson was where Chief Crazy Horse was killed in 1877.
Running Strong has supported Ft. Robinson Intertribal Gathering since 2001, two years after it started. We have also supported the Ft. Robinson Spiritual Outbreak Run which commemorates the Northern Cheyenne Outbreak on January 9, 1879 when Chief Dull Knife’s band tried to escape their prison conditions.
Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing
In the afternoon, we had lunch with Pinky Clifford and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing (OSTPH). Running Strong has partnered with OSTPH to make small-scale home repairs for families in need on Pine Ridge. They also work on financial and housing counseling to help clients build credit and teach them about how to obtain a mortgage.
We had a wonderful lunch with them and it was wonderful to see the impact of Running Strong’s programs.
Wounded Knee Memorial
We then went to Wounded Knee to pay our respects for the lost men and women of the Lakota Nation. The Wounded Knee Memorial the site of both the massacre of Chief Spotted Elk's band on December 29, 1890 and the second Wounded Knee American Indian Movement (AIM) standoff of 1973.
The Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 resulted in more than 200 Lakota men, women, and children being killed by U.S. troops.
The 1973 standoff between AIM and the United States government jumpstarted a revival of cultural pride of Native people in the US. In the months, years, and decades following, many Native cultural traditions and ceremonies have been revived.
In the evening we visited with Dave Lone Elk, the Field Coordinator on Pine Ridge and his father Ken Lone Elk, Water Coordinator. Dave and Ken operate Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home) Warehouse. Tipi Waste is the hub for in-kind distributions so Dave and Ken distribute the food boxes, winter coats, backpacks with school supplies, dental kits, Christmas toys, and more to members of the community.
Tipi Waste is also run the Heat Match program which helps hundreds of Pine Ridge families have heat in the hardest part of the winter. South Dakota and surrounding areas get bitterly cold winters, yet not everyone on the reservation can afford heat along with other basic expenses such as food and medicine. Dave explained that Lakota people have long thought of January as the hardest time of year, and this is exactly when the heat match provides a hand up to people in need.
Tipi Waste is also the hub of our Mni Wiconi Water Connection program. Since Running Strong’s foundation in 1986 getting water connections onto Pine Ridge has been a big priority.
Because of the continued support for water connections on Pine Ridge, an Eagle Feather Wall was created at Tipi Waste which lists the name of water donors. We got to see the wall and it was incredible to see all of the support given throughout the years.
Tomorrow we are visiting Pine Ridge Girls School and the Oyate Teca Project, and we will attend a Powwow!