This is a very special day for me. I got to the Indian Action garage early in the morning and fired up that big wood stove and put on the coffee. I know a lot of people are going to be here on this day. So it is a great feeling. The garage has a certain sense as the smell of fresh joe fills the air that is quickly being warmed by the wood stove. It makes you want to do everything right as you sweep and clean.
After a slow gathering up of everyone, it was coming together at about 10:00 am. The tables were in place. The chili was made the evening before and slow cooked all night. First one in the door was Mike Brewer, and he said he loved it after the first spoonful.
It’s a great sight to see the elders come into the building I always stop what I am doing to go and greet them. Tom’s Lentils and Barley chili mix recipe was a big hit* and the whole pot was wiped out. Donnell made some awesome corn bread to go with it.
Mark (the farmer who brings the food) is always on time or on his way. Mark is really a neat guy who can have humor and visit you about food at the same time, he really takes his job in this serious.
We all had our routes and with our main truck on its death bed, we had our hands tied. The number of walk-ins was down. I realized it may be because we are still doing our distribution earlier in the month than normal.
The garage is a lot different than when I first helped ONE Spirit when it was out at Manderson. In those days, Mark parked the big trailer loaded with food outside the College and then everything was hauled into the building, sorted and then hauled back out. Today we take about half the time. Mark backs in the garage, we all unload and sort, so drivers are backing up to be loaded within an hour.
On this day, we unloaded that truck with bright smiles. It seemed like a littler load maybe because it was more compacted. We weren’t even done unloading and I noticed more people walking in. We invited them to try the soup/chili. It was a first time for some to try the lentils beans and barley.
After a great load up process in the garage and a fun visit with everyone we were headed to our area in Pine Ridge
I have to stay with East Ridge route as I know it to be a really tough neighborhood. It is one of the toughest places in Pine Ridge and the whole reservation. I grew up there. It can be a very dark place. Most of the street lights are out, either shot out or hit with rocks. I see kids in full diapers, and houses with broken windows with torn plastic over them. This place is of hardships and despair. They say we have a third world country; well here it is. It is also a place of love and brotherhood. I also see happiness, perseverance and survival. As when times get tough the Lakota people can pull together. You can walk across the street and borrow sugar or some commodities. Everyone knows each other. ONE Spirit is really appreciated here and there is a lot of clients / participants of the food program in this area. But at least most housing units now have electric or propane furnaces. I don’t like to paint a picture of a poor situation of my people, but I feel no one will disagree with me. As I walk through the area, the dogs are happy to see me coming, maybe hoping there is a bone in the box I am carrying.
It is a neat thought that there is hope for everyone. As I walked away with a choked up feeling, got back in my ol’ faithful rez truck, I looked back and a thought came to mind “This is where I grew up.” It was a good day.
Thank you ONE Spirit sponsors. We are doing it here, it is working, and we are making it better in one of the toughest places of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. The only thing left to do is go back and finish the mission. Day two coming up.
*ONE Spirit supporter, Tom Richmond, has sent us a new product to try out for the food program, which is a chili soup mix made with Lentils and Barley. Each portion has 22% protein, a day’s worth of fiber, and a very low Glycemic index which is important for people that have Diabetes. Tom has sent the mix to Bamm Brewer, who prepared it for the food delivery people this Saturday to see if it passes the taste test. This would be a great new addition to the monthly food delivery packages.
Why We Deliver Food
"The Lakota are shy but I have a way with the kids, I told them simply "I love you guys. Can I take a picture of you all?" and here they came. These kids, I told them ONE Spirit loves you, and as I walked away I had a tear of joy to know they got some food today."
"The poorest conditions is where I find the brightest smiles, even though they didn't have much. They weren't afraid or ashamed to come out by the door for a photo after I told them I love them and ONE Spirit loves them, too. This has to be the toughest spot I have seen in the entire Reservation. I will do more for them. I shall ask the mom if maybe I can bring them some elk stew meat."
"It's the puppy and his mommy that keep this young man happy. However, food day is high on the list too. They were really happy and said thank you to ONE Spirit. It was a special day."