I’m still in answer mode, so y’all should strike while the iron is hot!
Heather’s first question:
I have read your mentions about the reservation. I have looked up Hope, SD.
Do you actually live ON the Indian Reservation or is it just close by like I saw on the map?
Are the Indian Reservations really as bad off as they are portrayed in the movies?
This is a multi-faceted question Heather, so I’ll do my best to answer it from my perspective.
Yes, I live on an Indian Reservation. My future husband known as Zach, My Cowboy, or Mr. Hotness, is a 3rd generation rancher and is a Lakota Sioux Indian. From my perspective, living on a reservation could be compared to life in a 3rd World Country- though I’m fortunate enough to live in a nice house and not struggle on the meager to non-existent income of some. There are many people on the reservation however, that aren’t as fortunate as us. Our particular reservation, The Cheyenne River Sioux, is located in two of the poorest counties in the United States. Dewey and Ziebach counties make up the reservation and are comprised of about 2.8 million acres (though roughly half of that land is owned by non-Indians- yet more post fodder!). It is roughly the size of Connecticut (some say Rhode Island and Delaware combined). Unemployment hovers between 75-85% in those counties. Ziebach county has the highest child poverty rate in the United States.
According to the 2000 Census, Ziebach County’s per capita income was $7,463 and the median income for a family was $18,672; 49.9% live below the poverty line.
Dewey County (where we reside) doesn’t fare much better- the per capita income was $9,251 and the median income for a family was $24,971; 33.6% live below the poverty line.
I’m sure that compared to a lot of people on the reservation we seem wealthy and I can tell you, from seeing first hand, that there is plenty of the crab in the bucket syndrome to go around.
There is a total population of about 14,000 +/- on the reservation and not all of them are Indians. I am not, of course. Probably something like 3000-3500 non-Indians live on the reservation- which brings up another subject- the US Government treats the Indians like lesser individuals. Just calling it like I see it. Indians are not allowed to own land in their name- it must be held “in trust” for them, through the US government, because clearly they’re not responsible enough to do the right thing with it.*insert sarcasm here*
I must add, that from my perspective, conditions are worse here for many residents than they would be if they lived in an inner city- because at least in the inner city you are part of a stronger city/state infrastructure, and you’re closer to the general populace. We are so remote (mind you, I LOVE that part of my life), that people forget we’re there. The fact that it’s been three weeks since one of the worst storms the state has ever seen left the reservation without water (due to lack of infrastructure and funding), and some places are still without electricity,(there’s even a school that’s closed) and you don’t see this getting any national attention, should be evidence enough of this bias. Short of the article above and Keith Olberman who has called out the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on their apathy toward the situation (video) if you don’t read this blog regularly would you have any idea life has been bad for these people? You wouldn’t know we have a crisis on our own soil because the media ignores it. Keith’s mention and linking to his website has helped to raise $250,000 for the tribe, as their $175,000 emergency fund has been completely depleted.
Speaking of water infrastructure, until the 40+ year old water system is upgraded, development in the communities on the reservation is at a standstill because the water system cannot hold any more residences. And clearly, there has been poor planning in the current water system. According to Indian Housing (via Census Data) 14.7% of reservation residents live in over-crowded conditions compared to 5.7% of the rest of the US.
I have plenty more to say on this subject, and it’s such a great subject, that I will be writing more about it! Thanks, Heather! I would love to see if I could cajole Zach or his dad to write more on the specific history of our reservation. His dad is a living history book!
Heather’s second question was: Do you have any other interests other than horses and jewlery?
It might be shorter to write a list of things that don’t interest me! I love art- and enjoy drawing and painting. I also sing, play the piano and the guitar. I love to read and you’ll find me, more often than not, (or when I’m not on a Twitter addiction) with a book in my hand. I’m a television junkie. I actually enjoy running and biking and hiking and snow skiing; any outdoor activity. I love decorating and interior design.
Keep the questions coming folks! This is fun!