South Dakota update 4

Natalia Cuadra, Limaya Atembina, Yuka Sato, Erin Marceno

We really want to see the sunset today. There is this awesome hill from which you can see all of Pine Ridge and even some of Nebraska.
Sunrises and sunsets look amazing from this spot. You should be jealous because where you are you can’t even see many stars. You have no idea how beautiful this world really is.

Last night during our interfaith discussion with Rabbi Israel we talked about the significance of being in Lakota country and why the same trip could not happen as successfully somewhere else. Many people agreed that we gain a lot from the nature and from being so removed from our regular lives. We also talked about the reasons why despite our similarities we all identify with different religions.

Today it was finally a WARM and SUNNY day! Many of us got sunburn but we also got the opportunity to enjoy the vast Great Plains landscape with its seemingly never ending sky and red earth. One of our groups worked very hard on a community garden. This group came back the most tired out of all of us. They learned that for such projects to be a success you need the cooperation of many people. They also saw how many of our different projects came together to improve one place. As some of us worked on the garden another group came to install an outhouse. Another group worked all day on improving a trailer. They built an insulation skirt around the trailer to lower heating and cooling costs. The family that lived in this trailer included two little girls who loved to play on their trampoline and climb trees with us. The group that built and installed outhouses had to dig a lot today. They learned that on average the outhouse hole gets filled up one foot each year. The group dug a hole for the outhouse at a residence that did not have any facilities. Throughout these experiences all of our members saw the discrepancies in living standards across the country and how our small contributions could help the families and people of the community.

Later, we had a speaker Larry Swalley who came to share the Lakota creation story with us. He also talked about the values of Lakota culture, especially about family structure and the matriarchal role in the creation story and in the family. He pointed out the similar values and religious laws that exist in various cultures throughout the world. Larry also spoke about how it is very uncommon for people to practice the ceremonies and other customs he spoke of as the knowledge is becoming lost over the years. There are attempts to re-integrate them into current Lakota society but it is a slow, difficult process.

We can’t believe that our last full work day is tomorrow! We have had a great time but will be sad to leave…

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