Water Resilience on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

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The Oglala Lakota Sioux tribal members living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are nothing if not resilient. 

They carry with them the generational trauma of the injustices committed against their ancestors and today still face challenges that most Americans would find intolerable if they were in the same situation – such as living in a home without running water.

Thanks to our supporters, we were able to connect 40 households to the water line which runs through the reservation this year alone through our Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) Connection Program. 

Harold, a 74-year-old Lakota elder, had spent the last eight years walking 300 feet each way to fetch water for his daily needs from a local church – and that was despite the fact that he lived just 112 feet from the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System main service line.

Harold did not complain or blame others for the situation. He accepted it for what it was and addressed the issue himself.

However, that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t like to have running water at his home, but the cost of several thousands of dollars to connect a water line to his home was simply out of his reach so he carried on.

But thanks to a referral to our water line connection program and our generous supporters, Harold no longer has to walk to the church for water. All he has to do is walk a few steps to his kitchen or bathroom and turn on the tap, our water coordinator on the reservation Ken Lone Elk reported.

“It’s such a basic thing, and a lot of people can’t believe how many in Indian Country don’t even have running water,” says Ken. “But when you dig for a connection and hook up a family with running water for a first time, you’re creating hope. You’re changing their lives.”

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