We would like to take this opportunity to send out a special thank you to all of the workers on Pine Ridge who make Food Day happen. The combined efforts of the Lakota community and the One Spirit supporters is what keeps our programs running.
Friday was the day I was scheduled to driver over to Chadron to pick up the Hams and Easter candy at Wal-Mart. It's always good to take a road trip - gives you space to think and refocus. Since the last food day you could kind of drift away, but once you see the load of hams and actually feel the weight of two pallets of hams in the trailer, it's like an instant reminder of how big the One Spirit Food Day actually is.
Getting Snowed In
Later that same night I went to our usual Friday night bowling and ended up snowed-in, in Martin South Dakota. It was totally a surprise storm and after bowling I came outside and knew this was very bad. After a visit with other drivers I found out the roads toward home were shut down by the police. This is the same route that Mark's crew comes in on with the food. I ended up camped out in a motel. I don't get no sleep in strange places sometimes so basically I was up half the night and when morning came I woke to the sounds of snow plows rumbling by.
I jumped to my feet, "I got to call Mark."
When I got ahold of him the truck was already in Kadoka and soon to be in Martin too. Ed Long was the driver this month and they were coming. I called and told them I'll be right in front of them and I warned them of the terrible road conditions here. They were so close they already knew. Ed asked me what I was driving and he will be looking for me in the ditch.
Enough about weather. We made it to Pine Ridge with Ed Long and the Riling truck and trailer behind us. Guess what - right on time - 10:00am. Actually even a little earlier it was the amazing work of the Great Spirit watching over us. Good thing the snow plows work early over there.
Providing the Laughter
Usually the truck load gets to the garage and the crew reacts. They are well trained and they unload and prepare for the loading of drivers trucks. By the time I get back from the bank getting the gas money the Rilings truck is unloaded and gone as it was yesterday. All this over well snow packed roads - we were on schedule, amazing!
I now have not one but several assistants who look over the operation to include Mike Markus, Ashley Rabbit, Dale Pine, and all of our drivers who showed up early to unload. Roads were clear to the south of Reservation luckily.
Warren as the dancing Easter Bunny and the Lakota staff after work on Food Day
One guy that we all get a kick out of is Warren Blue Bird. He would be there also and we got a special job for him - provide the laughter. He's great help as is all the crew.
This is a special day and the Lakota people are known for humor amidst seriousness of some situations, it loosens up the intensity and Warren helps us with that. Sometimes in the garage he has the crew all gathered up telling one of his stories. He is one of Dale Pine's students and he still listens to Dale's every command no matter how ridiculous. So when Dale tells Warren "You're our dancing Easter Bunny" well, he is on a mission. It 's all a reality show in there with a mission, to help the Oyate in need of food.
One of a Kind Workers
The drivers are also well trained and very experienced. This month we would see Ohitika Sierra back. She does a great job and she is very dedicated to helping the Oglala District. Manderson area would be handled by Webby Two Bulls, who is on her fourth adventure taking on the food routes. Maria Helper, with a grin of determination, and Zuya White Plume would take the Wounded Knee route.
Porcupine would be Holley Tail since this is her community - where she lives, so she knows the lay of the land. Her children love that Easter candy.
Kyle area was given to a FNG "Freakin New Guy", John Water, who lives in Allen. Really wanted to help because that's where he's from. But Ashley Rabbit usually handles the A-Town route and for the last 2 months she has gotten 100% success in deliveries. So basically we couldn't let a FNG come along and take that. You got to earn your seniority around this One Spirit crew.
Anyway I had to say no and John took on Kyle route. It sounds like he's done ok so far. Later he called - he must have really enjoyed doing the Kyle area because "can we do it again next month" were his words.
So Allen was taken by Ashley and she had a bit of help from John Dubray, and she came back pretty happy with some good reports.
Red Shirt was done by Tyra Two Bulls. As always, she did a great job - no complaints ever come from out there.
The workers are also one of a kind and a very big part of our crew, Anthony Brewer, Warren Blue Bird, Ronald Blue Bird, Jamie Ghost, Tim Sullivan, Mike Markus, Dale Pine and Jacey Sierra.
Bumps Along the Road
The reason I talked about the snow storm in the beginning was because it kind of had a small ripple effect on our day. We weren't able to get the candy divided up into a more spacious amounts. We had 200 bags we were going to break in half to cover everyone. However the crew never got that info so they threw one whole bag into the first 200 boxes made. So basically the districts got all the Easter candy and none left for Pine Ridge area.
The Blessing of Easter visited the people through the One Spirit Food Program yesterday, even after a snow storm. One side of the reservation was under a foot of snow, one side 2 inches. Together we made it happen and many people are happy today. Thank you sponsors!!
Sometimes we look at our mistakes and in the past we felt like we were known more for our short comings than the help we gave. So I am really appreciative of all of your support. I thank you all for your trusting and understanding that we are here to see the food goes where it is supposed to. Thank you for understanding if we fall short of that goal, something unusual happened or the situation was compromised. Thank you sponsors for giving the people some goodies for Easter - I saw a lot of big smiles.
In addition to the 300 or so families on our regular food list, there were more than 70 "walk-ins" and we were able to give food to all of them.