For more than three decades, Running Strong for American Indian Youth® has been working to provide running water to families throughout the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, first by the truckload and later by drilling deep water wells.
In 2015, we began a pilot program – our Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) program connecting households to the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System main service line which runs across the vast reservation which since then has brought over 200 families all the water they need for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing.
Last year alone, 40 families were connected to the main water line relieving them of the burden of having to fetch water from neighbors and nearby relatives, or driving miles to fill containers from community water distribution sites.
This year our goal is to connect even more, with the goal of doing the same for at least 50 additional families.
Today, it is estimated that between 250 and 400 families who live within a reasonable distance, roughly up to 1,000 feet, whose lives could be transformed by having the “luxury” of walking a few feet out their front door to get water from an outside hydrant, or for those with indoor plumbing and a septic system, actually washing dishes in their kitchen sink, taking baths and showers in their bathroom and flushing toilets.
With the spring season fast approaching, and the frozen ground of the Great Plains of South Dakota beginning to thaw, we are planning now on “hitting the ground running” by digging trenches and installing pipelines and hydrants as quickly as possible.
The United Nations’ World Water Day is March 22 is designed to celebrate water and raise awareness of the global water crisis, which includes right here in the United States on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. With your help, we can ensure that more and more families on the reservation have what the vast majority of their fellow Americans take for granted – clean, running water!