In 2011 Diane Sawyer and 20/20 put out the Children of the Plains and I struggled with the fact that it seemed like more poverty porn. I also struggled as it avoided so many facts and truths about Pine Ridge. I hated that it avoided to look at Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). I wrote my reaction immediately and shared it with 20/20 I even got a phone call out of that where they realized that they had missed much and were going to come back as they wanted to make a difference. I still wait today for that return…
But I don’t wait in place…I keep moving and doing. I won’t wait for others to see how important it is to recognize that FASD is a byproduct of the addictions on Pine Ridge. I see so many struggling and working so hard to overcome and yet they cannot. There are no jobs, there are no treatment facilities (okay one with 7 beds for an entire population), there is so much that needs to be done. There are those working on it though. So let’s start giving them some recognition…let’s look at the positives and also bring others to see the realities so that they can see what needs to be done.
I call everyone who wants to make a difference to take a walk. It isn’t a long walk. It is a very short walk through the main street of Whiteclay, NE. This town doesn’t even technically exist and for many years what was there only existed to prey on the addiction of the people on the neighboring Pine Ridge members of the great Oglala Lakota Nation. Now there is HOPE in the Hope center that exists there and there are businesses trying to come but being dissuaded by the lawlessness due to the drinking. The 4 beer stores there sell over 4 million cans of beer a day. How can that be possible in a place with a population of 14? Well it happens as they sell to the dry reservation that borders the NE border.
I ask everyone to look and to open your eyes. I ask this in the name of all of those that have been lost. I dedicate this to Pete “Junie”who bravely told his story to others. I ask that you all keep the message going. That Whiteclay must not continue. That somehow we need to realize that there is no prevention as long as we ignore that addiction equals generational issues including FASD. That so many at this time are being lost and that so many just don’t know. They don’t know and one time on tv won’t make a difference. We need people to continue to keep up the pressure on NE to look at Whiteclay and we need to continue to keep up pressure to get programs on Pine Ridge that are needed and support the ones that are already working there.