Wednesday, October 19, 2011

20/20's Children of The Plains

20/20 ran a report last Friday night about the Lakota kids on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

It was the most bittersweet thing we've seen in ages and hands down one of the most horrifying.

"Squalid conditions" does not even come close to describing how these people are living at Pine Ridge. Children in Haiti and for God's sake, Bangladesh seem to have more.

The Reservation, one of over 500 in the U.S., has a staggering unemployment rate upwards of 80%, an adult alcoholism rate of over 70%, one of the highest teenage birth rates and high school drop out rates in the U.S. and last year alone the local cops answered over 17,000 calls related to alcohol.

To top it off, ABC reported that although the Reservation itself has no liquor stores, the closest town has 4 and they alone sold over 4 million cans of beer last year to a tune of $7 million dollars profit.

It's actually ridiculous that this is happening in the United States.

The Reservation practically runs as a sovereign nation (in fact, it is), so it's not as if no one has tried to help or to intervene. People's hands are tied when it comes to the laws, red tape and regulations regarding the reservations. You can't just walk in and open up a McDonalds or even put in a grocery store. You just can't. The most successful business on the reservation, Tanka Bar (.com) is more regulated than a nuclear power plant. They have to file papers every five minutes to continue operations. And they live there!

Without cell towers and access to Internet, cell phones and technology, there are very few .com entrepreneurs that can operate from the homes there.

This may well be changing as the 20/20 report has generated interest and sparked the imaginations of people who want to get in there and either help outright or help get the people there on the Internet to sell homemade Native American made items.

There's talk of mobile health clinics and the children profiled just last Friday have had trust funds set up for all the donations pouring in as well as been offered financial tuition aid. That alone is amazing.

One of the teenagers profiled, Robert Looks Twice, has captured the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere. He has a new page on Facebook, that someone set up for him, and has been receiving advice on how to get to college and fulfill his dream of being the first Native American President. And he is, quite frankly, an amazingly talented person that we can't even wait to vote for.

If you haven't seen the report click the link below to watch it. It's fascinating. And follow the other links to see how you can help the children of the plains.

20/20 Episode in full

Robert Looks Twice Facebook Page

Wounded Knee School District Foundation

Wounded Knee School Wish List - Books!

Donate $ to the kids featured in the special

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