In our second installment of profiles of our Native American communities served by Boys & Girls Clubs, we feature our Club and community in Pine Ridge, S.D.
Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indian Reservation
The Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indian Reservation is located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, fifty miles east of the Wyoming border. At 11,000 square miles, it’s the second-largest reservation in the US. 97% of the population at Pine Ridge Reservation live below federal poverty line; the median income is between $2,500 and $3,500 per year and unemployment is between 85 and 95%. “Home-grown” and extremely violent gangs are taking over entire sections of the rez. The infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average. Diane Sawyer did a 20/20 special report in late 2011 (A Hidden America: Children of the Plains) that focused attention on life on Pine Ridge and can be watched online.
Linda Wiltse is BGCA's vice president of Program & Youth Development Services.
However, the young people of Pine Ridge felt the special was one-sided and went for the more sensational aspect over a balanced portrait of the joys as well as the struggles of reservation life. In reply, they created the video linked below, which includes many Boys & Girls Club members at Todd County High School. Watch it and marvel at their spirit and hope!