Letter to the editor: Making a difference

The entrance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Sioux tribe. (Kristi Eaton/AP)

Dear editor,

I feel the need to give you a final report — at least for now! The past 11 months we were able to deliver nine nice loads of all kinds of donated items to the Oglala Lakota Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This tribe has had a great deal of hardship and tribulation from the time of Crazy Horse on down to the present. They live on a rather large land area that is mostly badlands with little tourism and no commercial businesses to speak of. Presently there are about 20,000 in population with about half living in poverty. There are a great many rural trailer homes scattered all over and a high percentage of them are still using outhouses. It gets cold in South Dakota. Whether these same places have wells and running water, I have no idea. I have been told that if you see a decent home there are probably three families living there. They truly don't have much going in their favor. You may ask why more of them don't pack up and leave the reservation. My answer would be that it takes a certain amount of money to leave, rent an apartment, have some kind of wheels, with very little job skills and somehow make it work. So they stay with their families and they love the old traditions and the Indian way. 
We have helped them greatly with about everything you can imagine. Food, clothing, bedding, toys, kitchen supplies and the list is long. From far away we have made a difference! They are very grateful! Each load costs $500 for fuel and $300 for two rooms and a few meals. Some good people donated to cover 90 percent of the costs. Thank you so much! It has pretty much been the same 125 or so wonderful citizens that gave for all nine loads. Some people gave three and four times over. You have good hearts! I know we have tapped you out though. Also, we are now out of money. If we do something in the future it will have to be from a different angle.
The wealthy, the top 2 percent, would need to get involved. Teton County is supposed to be the richest county in the nation. You would think they would be inclined if asked! God says there is plenty for everyone if we just learn how to share! 


Bill Johnson