May 28th was again a day people were looking forward to since it was Food Day! However, one thing was different to other months: there were 4 people from One Spirit (Jeri Baker and Lisa Knouff, OS USA; Anne Christophe, OS France, and Gabriela Trümper, OS Germany) who wanted to help and see how everything worked out.

Oglala delivering team

 Oglala delivering team- Ohitika Sierra, Lisa Knouff, Gabriela Trümper (right to left)

During the time we spent on the reservation we stayed at Rosie's at the Singing Horse Trading Post. It is situated on the reservation, north of Pine Ridge and belongs to the community of Porcupine. To go from there to Pine Ridge we needed 45 minutes and so we started in time to be at Bamm's garage bei 10 a.m. With us came also Jeff, a friend from New York and Kelly Farrill who sponsors a family on the reservation.

The Indian Action Garage can be found right at the northern end of Pine Ridge so that we didn't have to drive through the whole community first. When we arrived, the garage was still empty and there were only a few people waiting for the truck to arrive. We went into the garage, looked around and found a drum set and a music system belonging to Bamm's band in the back end. Jeff who is also a musician couldn't take his hands off a guitar and started playing right away. 

Indian Action Garage Jeff
Indian Action Garage Jeff


Meanwhile more and more helpers arrived and finally Mark Rilling backed into the garage with a trailer full of vegetables and fruit as well as a palette of foldable cardboard boxes.

Arrival of food Unloading the trailer The Rilling Family
Arrival of food Unloading the boxes The Rilling Family

 

As soon as the trailer stood in the garage, people started to unload it. Since there were lots of helping hands, this job was done within 30 minutes and Mark could take the trailer off the garage. Now there was a huge open space in the middle which was filled within minutes with folded, yet empty cardboard boxes. These were really good and stable boxes which could easily be used for some other purpose, once the recipients emptied them. 

Anne helping to unload the trailer Filling the boxes Little Helpers 
Anne helping to unload the trailer Filling of Boxes Little Helpers

 

Bamm Brewer who arrived in the meantime knew exactly what quantity of vegetables, fruit and meat had to go into each box and advised the helpers accordingly.

 

 

Content of the May food box

Contents of the May food box

Due to many hard-working helpers, all boxes were filled within an hour and the first pick-up backed into the garage to be loaded with boxes. At this time, the first families from Pine Ridge arrived to pick up their boxes themselves. The boxes were handed over and they had to acknowledge the receipt by signing a special list on Bamm's desk. All delivery drivers received an equivalent list for their area. On this list were the names and addresses of the recipients noted and the kind of boxes they ought to get (food box and/or supply box) and also every recipient had to acknowledge the receipt on this list. Even Indians can't do without bureaucracy! 

Ohitika Sierra's area is Oglala. Her Pick-up was the first to be loaded. Lisa Knouff and I followed her with our car, taking her 2 daughters with us who had already helped to fill the boxes. Her car was loaded with 45 food boxes and some boxes with bread of with each recipient got 1 package. It looked like several hours of work!

 

Loading the Pick-up Off to Oglala
Loading of the Pick-up Off to Oglala!

 

We weren't able to stay on paved roads for long but had to take gravel and dirt roads most of the time. In some places you couldn't even find a road anymore. But we were very lucky that we had hot weather and all roads were dry. However, when we looked at the ruts in the ground we could well image how it would look in rainy or icy weather and it was absolutely clear that you can only drive with a 4x4 on such roads. 

First, we went directly to the community of Oglala to deliver food boxes. This was very easy and done within short time since in some roads we just had to go from one house to the next and some people even came from the neighbouring houses as soon as they discovered the pick-up to get their box. They all were very happy to get fresh produce and told us that they were longing for food day every month. Ohitika had them sign the receipt of their boxes and soon we were on our way to the next houses.

 

Lisa unloading a box  Acknowledging the receipt  Happy Grandma 
Lisa unloading a box Acknowledging the receipt Happy Grandma 

 

After we delivered all boxes in Oglala, we went to the people who are living outside the community. Some of the houses and trailers are standing far away from the paved road and can only be reached by driving over dirt roads which are sometimes very steep. Here you can prove that you're a good driver and know how to handle a car!
People in these places had also been waiting for us and were happy to see the pick-up pull up in front of their homes. Among them were several grandmothers who care for their grandkids. They all told us that they would have enormous problems feeding their grandkids without the One Spirit food box. 

After approximately 4 hours we finished the tour and went back to the Indian Action Garage. We could not deliver 5 boxes because the recipients weren't at home. These people would be called and given information.

By and by all of the other pick-ups also came back to the garage. When we arrived we found Bamm standing outside at a grill, preparing hamburgers for the helpers. We gathered for a meal, some cold drinks and a chat and after that people went home.

Our Conclusion: 
- The food day is well organized. Unloading Mark's trailer and filling of the boxes was done in a short time due to the many helpers who were present, so delivery could start early.

- The food boxes are essential. All people who received food boxes from us (Oglala area) have already been waiting for them since they were short of or even ran out of food and I am pretty sure that it wasn't any different in the other areas of the reservation to which the other delivery drivers went. This means we still need donations for monthly food boxes urgently.

Report and photos: Gabriela Trümper, Video Edward Wilson