© Bill Groethe
The United States Government's treatment of Native Americans over the last 150 years is tantamount to a slow genocide. This is especially true in South Dakota. Six of the eleven poorest counties in the entire United States are on Indian reservations in the state. Unemployment among Native American there is over 85%. Families are torn apart. Cancer and diabetes are pandemic. Drinking water is contaminated with uranium from government mines. Education is poor. Misery abounds.
Astonishingly, the caring and vibrant spirit of the Lakota people is still intact. That they have survived such devastating federal and state policies is a testament to their phenomenal strength.
Over the years our work has gone through several phases. After an initial period of discovering the magnitude and severity of the challenges in Lakota country, we worked with our staff and allies to develop a long-term, holistic vision. What emerged were seven long-term objectives:
- Return Lakota children to their families and tribes
- Reclaim and steward the ancestral lands
- Revive the traditional government of the Seven Council Fires
- Birth a new Oyate economy of self-reliance and sustainability
- Ensure access to education for all Lakota children in traditional spirituality, wisdom, and knowledge
- Rebuild the kinship system
- Protect the gifts of the Spiritual Elements (natural resources)
The first and most important of these is to rescue the children. Any genuine attempt at renewing Lakota society must begin there. In recognition of this, we have launched the Lakota Child Rescue Project. Explore this site to learn more about work, and please consider becoming a member of Lakota People's Law Project.