Injustice, discrimination, and people living in poverty have always been intolerable, situations to me that demanded I take action to help make right what was wrong.
After college and graduate school, I spent 30 years in Human Services in Child Protective Services and in Children’s Mental Health. It was easy to see both the pros and cons of the bureaucracy designed to serve but it was very difficult to make changes to address the shortcomings. It was the experiences in these fields and an inability to see a human need without taking action that lead to my working with a Medicine Man in Virginia to help children on Pine Ridge. After he passed to the Spirit World, One Spirit was established to continue the sponsorship program he had started and to work with the Lakota to support their efforts for their people.
The beliefs that have guided the direction of One Spirit have included:
- The belief that people must be free to determine their own direction without mandates from outside. The Lakota are a beautiful people that have been subjected to huge abuses from what they refer to as “The Dominant Culture.” Yet they are still here, albeit living in cruel poverty. Through One Spirit, they are the ones who manage and direct programs and the One Spirit people support their efforts.
- We have an obligation to provide services in a way that respects the people and allows them the ability to make and learn from their own successes and failures.
- We have an obligation to One Spirit Supporters to be amazingly good stewards of the money they donate. We must use it wisely for the purpose for which it was given.
There are two things that drive my actions:
- The desire to see hunger and dire poverty on Pine Ridge Reservation become things of the past.
- My 3 children and 9 grandchildren. For them, I want to be the mother and grandmother who helped them become compassionate and loving human beings.
And, one more thing, as my niece describes me – I want to always be the family member who brings the funk to family gatherings. I hope that is true for my One Spirit family as well.