With Thanksgiving just a week away, we at Running Strong for American Indian Youth® are working diligently to ensure that 1,700 families – an estimated 7,000 Lakota children, parents and elders – on the Pine Ridge Indian and Cheyenne River Sioux reservations in South Dakota are able to join together for a big holiday meal with all their relatives, friends and neighbors.
Today far too many Native Americans face incredible hardships that no one should be forced to endure such as lack of running water, heat in the winter and being able to put food on the table every day are but just a few – something that’s hard to believe still exists in the United States in 2021 – but sadly it’s commonplace on reservations and Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River are no exception.
Feeding your family for a week or enjoying a festive holiday dinner with all the trimmings is not a choice any parent should have to make.
Dave Lone Elk, coordinator of a field office on Pine Ridge, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home), puts it this way: “We are going into our holiday season looking forward to receiving and distributing Thanksgiving turkeys and food boxes.
“This is always a truly exciting time for us at Running Strong in the knowledge that we are able to help our relatives (all the Oglala Lakota people on Pine Ridge consider themselves to be relatives).”
In fact, it’s hard to know who look forward to the holiday season more – Dave at Tipi Waste Un Zanipi and the staff at the Eagle Butte Food Pantry on Cheyenne River, or those children who will be able to eat their fill of turkey and dressing, potatoes and vegetables, and of course pumpkin pie, as their parents and grandparents rejoice in the smiles on the little ones faces.
All this represents more than just a meal for these families who consider it a true blessing made possible by the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth® who share in the joy at their own Thanksgiving tables knowing that they have enabled Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River families do the same.