Ahhhh...it's Sunday and it is snowing here in beautiful Colorado. I don't have to go anywhere or do anything that would get me out of my fleece-lined sweat pants and slippers. I will leave the TV off and the drapes open and watch it snow. Perhaps it will even get chilly enough for me to curl up on the sofa with my dogs...maybe I will even light a fire...with a remote control. I used to love these kinds of days. Actually I still love these kinds of days....but now I know better...now I know the flip side of winter-wonderland days.
This is my third winter working on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota...and on days like this the first thing I do now is check the weather in southwestern South Dakota. Today...not good news. Multiple below zero nights are upon them. The weatherman talks of the cold front sweeping down from wherever they sweep down from...and he makes a little joke about "gonna be cold out there"....over and over again like Bill Murray's radio on the movie Groundhog Day. All I can think of are the men, women and dogs who live on the streets of Whiteclay...and the children and elders in the inadequate housing all over the Reservation. If history is any indicator....we will very likely here in the coming days of someone who has died inside their own home.
The suffering can be great on the Reservation in the winter. The tribe does what the tribe does....but it is never enough. No one should have to see their breath in their bedroom. No mother should have to fear that the baby might be in danger from hypothermia. No one should have to burn their clothes or break up the furniture for firewood. Elders shouldn't lose fingers or toes to frostbite. These things shouldn't happen....but they do. Every cold spell....every winter...there is a suffering beyond anything we can imagine...these things actually happen. And I hate to tell you this....but if you just read that paragraph...now you know. You can't say you had no idea....because now you know.
We can't fix it all...no one can fix it all. But we can make a difference....to that one elder...that one family...that one animal...that one. That ONE. If you will do for one what you wish you could do for everyone....a difference will be made.
It is my desire and the desire of my Lakota friends and family to see this changed. In order for it to change...justice has to take place; complicated, elusive justice. But justice takes time and until it happens...mercy steps in and does what it can. Mercy. Love. Compassion. Help born of sadness, born of anger, born of empathy....but born in some small way. You have the power to make a difference today. Call in any small amount to the propane company on Pine Ridge. 605-867-5199. Ask for Shay and tell her this is for KC Willis' account. When enough is there for an order ($125 minimum) then I will call them with an address...and for tonight a mother can sleep without worry and an elder will be safe. If you prefer you can simply Paypal us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can call in a propane order for you or order a delivery of wood.
If you are sitting in a warm house you are blessed. Please be a blessing. Pilamaya. Thank you.