Pinedale Roundup | A trip to Pine Ridge Reservation

The trip to Pine Ridge Reservation was pulled off as planned. Friday evening we made it to Casper. The next day we arrived at Alice Phelps’ receiving station around 1:30 in the afternoon. It’s a distance of 560 miles, one way. The big trailer averaged 11 miles per gallon and the other three a little more. Diesel costs $5.00 per gallon over and back. Toby and Cheryl Travis took their truck, Tim O’Hara took his, Barry Johnson pulled a trailer owned by Dale Hill and Craig and Marilyn Jensen donated their truck and big storage trailer. My wife, Sharon, and Marilyn entertained Craig and me all the way!

This entire venture was made possible by the amazing, very large quantities of food, etc. donated by our local Ridley’s and various goods donated by Food Basket and Rendezvous Pointe. Dale at A to Z fixed most of the bikes. Individuals throughout the town and county donated all kinds of items and others donated cash for our fuel. Some donated both! I’m not listing their names because some wish to be anonymous and, besides, I might miss somebody. A huge thank you from the team!

One must understand what it is like to deal with the poorest of the poor. It’s not what you want it to be. For instance, Tim noticed a heavyset girl was being pushed out of the way by the boys. He found a nice bike with a lower bar and said, “This is a girl’s bike” and wheeled it to her. I seriously doubt if anything like that has ever happened to her before! The food side of it was very organized by Alice and her helpers and she has a nice facility. She passes the food to the needy on Wednesdays and her pantry was almost bare! That made our hearts feel the blessings of giving!

Here are some takeaways. The unloading got a little out of hand. You have to understand that none of them have been around the discipline of a business atmosphere like we all have. We learned! Uncontrolled unloading will never happen again, not on our watch!

Alice needs some help on her new facility. I’m talking about the need to build some small chain-link fence rooms inside her facility that can lock up the hard goods like tools and gardening supplies. They want to and need to get into gardening if they are going to have any chance to survive the hard times that are coming. Things like shovels, hoes, rakes, hoses, sprinkler heads and seed need to be initially locked up and then passed out slowly on merit and need.

Also, it makes more sense when buying a new shovel to ask donors to donate your good old shovel. The reason being the badasses of the tribe are likely to steal a new one from their good neighbors and sell it for cash and possibly use the money to buy liquor. Is it a hopeless situation? Of course not, but it sure as hell is a challenge. We have with some really neat people!

So why are Pinedale and Sublette County so important to them at this moment? I think it is kind of like a story about Jesus. He would never preach in Nazareth, his hometown. The townspeople still thought of him as that little boy playing in the street and as the carpenter’s son. Too much has happened in Chadron and Rapid City for them to care much about the Oglala Lakota tribe. In fact, while we were unloading on Saturday most of the tribe’s elsewhere were in Rapid City protesting an Indian that got shot and killed. I guess it was taken lightly by the authorities. We have stepped up for them and, presently, they do not have many other places to turn for help.

I totally understand that the majority of any donation has to be food and we can’t expect Ridley’s to do that again. But maybe Jackson and Rock Springs grocery stores and others would take their turn in the barrel. Alice has a 501(c)(3), First Families Now, so donations can be tax deductible.

Our little team and others would like to improve their lot in life. There is plenty for everyone if we just learn to share! I got a phone call last night from one of our locals that has expressed an interest in helping in a bigger way, but we also need others in our core group. A big group means big ideas!

If I go again I am going to ask the ladies to sew me up a Lakota-style shirt in their colors. Above the pocket I would like to have Pine Ridge Reservation printed or Oglala Lakota Tribe. Maybe a little something of Crazy Horse. I would gladly pay $100.00 for that shirt. Maybe some of them could start a business! They need to get their pride back. They need to have hope again! There, but for the grace of God go I!

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