When you think of the United States the ideas of opportunity, freedom, health and prosperity usually come to mind, but unfortunately on Pine Ridge Reservation statistics rival those of Third World countries:
97% of the population lives far below the U.S. federal poverty line.
The unemployment rate vacillates between 85 to 95% on the Reservation.
The average life expectancy is 47 years of age for men and 52 years for women.
The teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S. national average.
Over 33% of homes have no electricity or basic water and sewage systems, forcing many to carry (often contaminated) water from local rivers daily for their personal needs.
More than half of the Reservation's adults battle addiction and disease. Alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, malnutrition and suicide are rampant.
Most homes lack stoves, refrigerators, beds and/or basic furniture, causing many to sleep on dirt floors.
For one organization to tackle all of these problems would be near impossible. While we continue our own efforts to improve the lives within the community, we wanted to highlight some of the great work other organizations are doing to better the lives of those on Pine Ridge.
Stronghold Society: Their vision is to create a future where youth of Native communities and non-Native communities will live a successful, healthy way of life, both mentally and physically, to become the leaders of tomorrow. They hope to promote healthy way of life outlooks for kids through skateboarding and the creation of skateparks in Native American communities. They have partnered with many companies and other foundations, including Vans and the Tony Hawk Foundation, to bring hope to the Pine Ridge youth.
Lakota Children’s Enrichment: By providing the children on Pine Ridge Reservation with opportunities to hear from role models both inside and outside the reservation, they hope to encourage young individuals to follow their passions and realize their dreams through youth summits and leadership workshops where kids come together to create a community.
Re-Member: By focusing on construction needs within the community, Re-Member hopes to have a direct impact on the health and welfare of residents. The organization goes into communities where many families lack beds, running water or well maintained homes and provides those basic needs to families.
Lakota Tiny House Nation: Starting in the spring of 2015 after hearing numerous reports of youth suicides, LTHN wished to create a safe and sustainable housing situation for Pine Ridge families by teaching building skills. This will help individuals not only build more houses, but also learn new skills that will make them job-ready for other projects on and around the reservation and more ready to build a home of their own.
Thunder Valley: Their goal is to empower Lakota youth and families to improve the health, culture and environment of the Pine Ridge communities, through the healing and strengthening of their cultural identity. Next month, the organization will begin a new initiative by partnering with The Honeybee Conservancy called Buffalo Bees. The hives will serve as a “science class in a box,” teaching community members the importance of acting as stewards for honeybees and their natural environments, and in the future they hope to harvest and sell the honey.
This just names a few, and we know there are so many other organizations conducting inspiring work on behalf of Pine Ridge Reservation. We are incredibly excited for what the year has in store for Pine Ridge, especially through our partnership with Thrive Market.
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