We have witnessed the troubles that face these First Nations People every day. The life-changing difference on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation might be as simple as a dream—a source of relief in the ongoing nightmare.
The heart of our South Dakota relief agency mission is in “The Dream Center,” a children’s support facility built by the hands of volunteers, fueled by Christian brotherhood, and sustained on the love of Christ. The Dream Center, sitting eleven miles inside of the border of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, is a multifaceted facility and grounds designed to provide relief services to the Oglala Lakota community. It is the first of its kind in scope and size amongst similar projects on U.S. reservations.
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is located in a desolate and forgotten corner of a bustling American nation that’s too busy to notice. Two million acres located in the southwestern South Dakota prairie come with their fair share of hardship and poverty.
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the poorest community in America. Of approximately 75,000 Oglala Lakota people living in the state of South Dakota, the average annual income is a mere $2,500.00. Likewise, most live well below the poverty line. Nearly half of all homes lack the basic comforts we all take for granted every day: functioning toilets, telephones, and a source of heat in the wintertime.
As always, life below the nation’s socioeconomic standard is devastating and often dangerous. In some cases, the Oglala Lakota are a nation of people who are struggling for their own survival. While alcohol is the leading killer of Native Americans today, the rate of suicide on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is five time higher than the U.S. national average. Regrettably, the average life expectancy for Lakota men is 40.9 years—46 years for Lakota women.
As the primary work of this South Dakota relief agency, The Dream Center gives stability and longevity to a nation of people who, for too long now, have had none. It gathers together the men, women, and children of this native nation, giving the gift of life, learning, and growth in Christ. More About WAEM
This support letter, from former Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele, demonstrates our commitment and support to the people of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. It expresses the appreciation of both the former president and tribal members.