Rock and Roll Food Day in the Land of the Buffalo People
by Bamm Brewer
The ONE Spirit food program and Indian Action Garage team had a very busy weekend. All aimed at bringing great happiness to the Oglala Lakota tribal members. This happiness came from great tunes, ONE Spirit food program, and the Indian Action Garage becoming multiple event center, tire shop, food warehouse. In today’s Buffalo back country, the Lakota struggle with poverty, suicide, alcoholism, and drugs. Music is life and ONE Spirit and the Indian Action Team are creating a big impact in Lakota country. To tell this story we would have to tell you about the entire weekend. What a full blast effort from our ONE Spirit food team and garage/warehouse helpers to do something positive for the Lakota oyate (tribe).
Friday night was a heavy metal night we called Metal Militia. 4 heavy metal rock bands plus my band the “Crazy Indian Cowboy” played into the night for a very nice sized crowd with some elders also coming in to check it out. This is a serious metal crew and this is some heavy sounds. Now there is a thing called young at heart and that could be said about the elders who came to check it out, because they looked like they were enjoying themselves. We have a concession stand with some great food and drinks. We served water, tea and coffee. At one time we had pop but our good friend Tom Richmond suggested we eliminate the soda, and he was right; nobody really missed it. It was a great show that was completed by about 1:00am. What was neat about after the show is that some of the bands helped us return the place to its food distribution setting. The floor swept and tables put back. One guy said “Let’s help them clean up. They help those in need tomorrow, they got a food program.” It was great and by the time I crashed out it was 3:00am- Wow!
It was a fast night. When I woke up, it was my phone ringing. Mark Rilings on the other side said: “We are by Kadoka Are you up Bamm?” It was a fast talk and I was now awake! Haha! The shower was cold as we have been out of propane for a couple of days. Then I was in the truck headed for town. When food day gets here there is a certain group of people who set out on a mission to deliver. As many as 7 different drivers and 4 helpers plus Donnell Houx are on the way. This operation is scheduled to cover the entire delivery area on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This would be a special delivery as it would be the first trip around the reservation for the new truck. Just as special were the socks, cheese and new lentil chili mix in the food day delivery. The plan was to hit some of the farther out districts with the new truck and that is just what we did.
There is a big deal now when this day comes around. As you can see, the cars and trucks out to the garage are many. It could have also been because we moved the date back toward the end of the month. As I pulled into the garage it was a first time about everyone was there before me. Good thing before I left I started the coffee after the show. When we got inside the coffee smelled good and the place was still warm. The hot coals in the wood stove were not hard to relight and we slowly opened the door so Mark could back in the big trailer full of the ONE Spirit sponsorship food. Mark has gotten better at backing the trailer up into the garage. He must have been raised in a city, because a country boy can back up a trailer. In the beginning he would have to take two or three cracks at it. After a nice unloading with some people coming out to pick up we were looking great.
The drivers started to arrive and Donnell had a tough trip in as the northwest reservation got about 4-6 inches of snow. The visibility in Pine Ridge was very low with a distance of ½ mile. Donnell drove under 30mph all the way here with a special cooked recipe of Italian lasagna. We had planned an after delivery dinner and Donnell was bringing the main course. We also had planned burgers and brats. Meantime we were starting to get our crew warmed up unloading the truck. It is about the toughest part of the whole deal because it comes on a pallet designed to be loaded and unloaded by fork lift. We do it by hands a little slower but still get the job done. Mark is unloaded and he rolls out of the way as drivers are ready to back in. The boxing process by this time is underway as mostly everyone knows the routine. New helpers are learning what’s up and being put to work.
We discovered our first problem early as our first driver pulled out and no one had arrived to take the Kyle food. The Kyle route is usually second out, but the driver did not show up. We set Kyle’s food aside and continued on sorting and loading other trucks and drivers. When it was all done and said we also had no Manderson driver. Not a problem as I was looking forward to taking the new truck around the rez anyway. So with a little shortage of drivers we still had smiles on our faces and carried on. Justina, who does the Oglala route, was there ready to go so we moved her into the number two spot. Followed by Porcupine and the Pine Ridge areas which we have divided into three areas. Pine Ridge 1, 2, 3, it is about 25 boxes a piece. The division is by Crazy Horse housing, then East Ridge Housing and North Ridge housing. Then all that was left was Allen, Batesland, Kyle, and Manderson areas. Since I have one of the Pine Ridge areas I would have to take Kyle and Manderson in the morning.
A resident from Allen called in and volunteered to come after the Allen/Batesland load and that was a relief, too. Within the area there are not that many families such as in an area like Kyle or Pine Ridge. However, it seems we have been not able to choose our own driver there. Allen would see another new driver this month, and from reports they did good and it was done on Saturday. We picked up everything by 8:00am on Sunday and took off for Kyle and Manderson. It was a good trip out to Kyle. I have always loved the area and as being a Rodeo announcer for over 10 years, I have many friends out there.
The area is nestled right up against the most rugged badlands South Dakota has to offer. Just a short drive to the North and you will see the areas where long ago tribal members were forced to move off their own allotted lands so the Air Force could practice bombing runs and drops in the desolate badland area. The area is still to this day dangerous and posted by the military. I have hunting buddies who carried these little missiles home after hunting out there. Then the bombing range people confiscated them and detonated the devise outside his house. It was still live, so basically why I am telling you of this is because some of the food drivers are in fact near the areas. So I believe these drivers are going above and beyond to get this food out to the people. We go any farther north and we may have to issue armored carriers and flak jackets, just kidding Jeri!
It was another great trip and I found some more great moments where I saw true pride and heart within my people. There is a guy named Curtis east of Pine Ridge. Wow, he is really cool, and he lives in a small trailer home. His place is just real basic and nothing fancy, considering it is about 8x12 and has a small outhouse in the back. He is truly the “Last Real Indian”. After talking to him and listening to his words you feel like you just walked in on yesterday. It was a good day in the days of long ago and right around the hill was a beautiful sun dance ground. Here is truly a place where time stood still and money meant nothing because there just wasn’t any. I asked Curtis what he needed most, thinking he would ask for something to improve his house. He thought for a minute and then replied, "What I need most is a new outhouse." Curtis pointed me to a house I was looking for and I backed out of Curtis’ drive way and headed towards a very beautiful area.
There was a house in that out back and I noticed it had some of the siding off. It must have blown off and the insulation was showing. I knocked on the door and this little girl answered. I found out that where the siding was off there is the outside of her bed room. She said her room is freezing because of that. She also said when it rains water comes below her window. She is excited for spring but worried about her room leaking if it rains. I spoke with the parents who actually stood in silence as this little cute girl took charge of explaining the situation. It was a big house and the siding problem is on the north side of the house where the wind blows hard. The young lady was happy with the box of food, socks and cheese from Cabot she received.
After two days of door to door and seeing all these government housing clusters strung out across the reservation, it reminded me of the coming Easter time; all eggs are shaped the same but the kids just color them different. Same as the houses, they are all the same shape just colored different. Well, all together here we are again looking back at two great days of traveling across the reservation lands far and wide. This shows how much we can do when we work together. Our day started Friday and by Sunday we were still going. Thank you to the Happy Hearts Warm Feet Organization, Cabot Cheese, Tom "soup man” Richmond and Thank you sponsors, it was a great day!
We Were Able To Deliver Food, Cheese, and Socks Thanks To These Amazing Sponsors:
Cabot Cheese from Cabot Creamery for donating delicious cheese to our food program!
Shelley Gordon for donating 700 pairs of socks and boys underwear!
Warm Feet Happy Hearts www.warmfeethappyhearts.org
"Providing socks and warming the feet of every child … 10 toes at a time."
Tom (the soup man) Richmond for the Lentils and Barley Chili Mix