In one week, we will be in Lead, SD. If you are unfamiliar with Lead (pronounced “leed” not “lead”), it is a small town in the Black Hills, near the Wyoming state line. Lead was founded in 1867, after the discovery of gold and is the location of the Homestake Gold Mine. While the mine was the most productive gold mine in the United States, it closed in 2002. I have been reading “The Lakotas and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground” by Jeffrey Ostler as background information about the controversies concerning the “ownership” of the Black Hills. The book details the fights, on the battlefields and the court rooms, that the Lakota have waged to try to recover their homeland. Today, the Black Hills land case is still an ongoing issue.
This week is all about preparation: organizing our calendars, meetings with administration at McDaniel College, a meeting with Carolyn Rittenhouse, a colleague from Millersville University. Carolyn is originally from the Cheyenne River Reservation, one of our stops in South Dakota. Additionally, we have the challenge of packing for three weeks. Besides our personal items, we are taking donations for the Cheyenne River Youth Center and soil testing equipment for use in Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River.
The first week we are in South Dakota, Melanie and I will be meeting with representatives of the Oglala Lakota College (OLC), including the President, Dr. Thomas Shortbull. We are also planning to meet with representatives of the nursing program and the Oglala Lakota Center for Science and Technology. We also plan to stop by Red Cloud Indian School and St. Joseph’s Indian School. On June 29, 2012 Lauren Zafrir and Kate Hudson, two McDaniel Students, fly out to meet us in Rapid City and we will head to the RE-MEMBER project on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a week. Following our week on Pine Ridge, we head out to the Cheyenne River Reservation to spend some time with the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
It will be a busy three weeks, but I have no doubt that our time will be spent learning and connecting with the people we meet in South Dakota.