Rapid City man awarded $10K grant to start Pine Ridge youth running camps

By John Lee McLaughlin, Rapid City Journal

James Pine, 23, goes on a run Friday afternoon in his southwest Rapid City neighborhood. Pine has been awarded a $10,000 grant to start a youth fitness camp this summer called Lakota Forever Running and Fitness in each of the eight districts of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. (Josh Morgan, Journal staff)

James Pine, 23, goes on a run Friday afternoon in his southwest Rapid City neighborhood. Pine has been awarded a $10,000 grant to start a youth fitness camp this summer called Lakota Forever Running and Fitness in each of the eight districts of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. (Josh Morgan, Journal staff)

James Pine has his heart set on empowering the Oglala Lakota, both young and old.

And Pine, 23, of Rapid City, has been awarded a $10,000 grant to take his desire and run with it. He is one of 10 recipients of the Dreamstarter grant program, which is administered by Running Strong, an American Indian youth nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va.

Each of the 10 awardees received $10,000 to start youth camps promoting health and wellness across the nation. Each will work with a mentoring nonprofit to help implement their startup camps.

Pine, who works at Dakota Business Center delivering office supplies and installing office furniture, will be working with Dustin Martin, program director for Wings of America in Santa Fe, N.M.

Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Pine knows firsthand the problems that people there deal with daily.

“There’s not much to do,” he said last week in a phone interview while he was at the Dreamstarter Academy in Washington, D.C. “There are a lot of bad habits. There’s a lot of suicide. There are a lot of drugs and alcohol, and there’s not much to turn to. On a daily basis, a lot of people are bored, and they want to hang out with their friends, and they do bad things.”

An avid runner, Pine said, “I just want to bring my people up. I just want to help them out. I want to be a mentor and a coach. I just want to help the youth, and not even just the youth. I want to help everybody, elders, too, old people, tall, small — anybody.”

This summer, Pine said, he will be starting a series of two-day youth camps, dubbed Lakota Forever Running and Fitness, in eight communities across the reservation. He hopes to start the camps in June, continuing through August.

Pine is a former state-qualifying cross-country and track runner for Pine Ridge High School.

“Running has helped me in a major way, and I don’t even know if I can put it into words, but it was just an awesome thing because when I was younger, growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation, I went through the hardships, just like everyone else,” he said.

Running Strong was co-founded by 1964 Olympic champion Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, who to date is the only American to win a gold medal in the Olympic 10,000-meter run.

“Billy Mills, he played an important role in my life,” Pine said. “He was kind of like a hero, just someone to look up to. He was like the glimmer of hope. You know, you see all these NBA stars and these people on TV, and none of them are Native American. Some people get it in their head: ‘Oh, I can never be that,’ but then you look at Billy Mills. He’s a national idol.”

Pine applied to the Dreamstarter Program with friend and colleague Martin. The duo met last summer at a Wings of America program that trained Pine and others to facilitate youth running and fitness camps.

“Immediately, James stepped into a leadership role and was a leader for those facilitators that came down from Pine Ridge,” Martin said. “It was obvious to me that they looked up to him, and they respected his guidance when he gave it. So when we had this opportunity to apply for this grant, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Pine’s father, Dale, has been a long-time supporter of Wings of America running and fitness programs, Martin said. Dale Pine has coached at Pine Ridge High School for more than 25 years.

He is a leading force of Team One Spirit, which facilitates running programs and raises funds for youth on the reservation. The team sent James Pine to run with four other Oglala Lakota runners in the New York City Marathon. The group is collectively called the Lakota Five. Pine finished the 26-mile, 385-yard race with a time of 3:52:31.

Partnering with Pine to start running camps at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is a natural transition from an already strong partnership, Martin said.

“Dale Pine has been a longtime advocate and helper of Wings of America, and I sort of see myself as the next generation of Wings,” he said. “In a lot of ways, I see James as the continuation of that legacy, you know, and myself included, so together, he and I can continue that legacy of Wings working in South Dakota, and particularly in Pine Ridge.”

Pine said Wings of America has granted him an additional $9,000 to start the Pine Ridge running camps, which he said will incorporate games, mentorship and wellness education, all the while promoting the sport of running.

“Everything is going to revolve around running and being healthy and living a good, natural life,” he said. “If you make a game out of it, it’s very interesting and fun to them, even though they will be running the whole time.”

Pine said he will coordinate with schools on the reservation to see what gym space is available for his camps, though there’s always the option of holding them outdoors. He said he will also be seeking sponsorships from local businesses.

Running “took me a lot of places, and it brought me to where I am now,” said Pine, who lives in Rapid City with his girlfriend and 1-year-old daughter. “I’m a dad now. I just changed my life around … I just feel obligated to help my people and give back to the community.”

Lakota vow: ‘Dead or in prison before we allow the KXL pipeline’

Lakota members marched during the annual Liberation Day commemoration of the Wounded Knee massacre. People carried American Indian Movement flags and shot rifles into the air as part of the celebration. Photo: Deep Roots United Front/Victor Puertas

Lakota members marched during the annual Liberation Day commemoration of the Wounded Knee massacre. People carried American Indian Movement flags and shot rifles into the air as part of the celebration. Photo: Deep Roots United Front/Victor Puertas

 

By Camila Ibanez, March 13, 2014. Source: Waging Nonviolence

On February 27, Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement activists joined in a four-directions walk to commemorate Liberation Day, an event to mark the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. As they do each year, four groups gather to the north, south, east and west and then walk eight miles until converging on top of Wounded Knee, where they honor the fallen warriors and the tribe’s rich history of resistance.

“It is an acknowledgement of the resiliency of who we are as a people,” explains Andrew Iron Shell, an organizer and activist of the Sicangu Lakota Nation. “It gives permission and courage for our up-and-coming generations to face the challenges of their time.”

The history of the occupation began with a massacre more than 100 years ago. On a cold day in December 1890, the United States army killed 300 Lakota men, women and children in a massive shoot out after a member of the First Nations refused to give up his arms. It marked the first bloodshed on Wounded Knee – although there had been many massacres of First Nations people by the colonialists before it. The event was also considered the end of the Indian Wars.

Eighty-three years later, on Feb. 27, 1973, about 200 Lakota members took siege of the town of Wounded Knee. Reclaiming a location that was written in the history books as a place of defeat, the Lakota stood their ground. They were there in protest of a failed attempt at impeaching the tribal president at the time, Richard Wilson, who was known to be corrupt and abusive. Initially a protest against the tribal government, the occupation took a turn when U.S. police forces arrived. The protestors switched the occupation’s focus to the United States’ frequent violation of treaties.

The armed warriors maintained control over the town for 71 days while the FBI encircled them. At the final standoff, two warriors were killed, about 12 people were wounded and over 400 were arrested. The Oglala were able to harness national attention through their occupation, using the spotlight to question the United States’ treatment of First Nations people. 

As history passed, later generations rarely heard about the occupation of Wounded Knee — or about first nation people at all. This skewed national memory should be unsurprising: When you have a society and a nation built upon the subjugation of people of color, you can expect nothing more than the constant erasing of certain histories.

Ongoing genocide

I recently visited Prisoner of War Camp 344, also known as the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It wasn’t my first time in the sovereign Oglala Sioux Nation, but it was my first time joining in the ceremonies celebrating the 41st annual Liberation Day to remember the 1890 reoccupation of Wounded Knee.

The vibrant American Indian Movement flags waving in the harsh South Dakota winter wind reminded me of the old black and white photos I used to see in my history books. The Lakota would not disappear without a fight, regardless of what the United States’ intentions were. Children walked alongside elders who had taken part in the occupation, showing clearly the group’s intergenerational wisdom. These are children who are stripped of learning their people’s history in schools, but instead learn it through stories and dances. They are children who live in a sovereign nation that contains two of the poorest counties in the United States and who recognize the threats their families face every day.

One of these threats come from the so-called town of White Clay, Neb., where visitors can witness the way violence against the First Nations people has changed — but not disappeared — over the generations. Consisting of only 12 people and four liquor stores, White Clay was once part of a 50-square-mile buffer that prevented alcohol from entering the reservation. In 1904, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that removed 49 of those square miles. Since then, the town’s economy has been driven by the $4 million in alcohol sales to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There is no legal place to drink in or around White Clay: Alcohol containers can’t be opened on the property of the distributor, it’s prohibited to drink in the street, and the reservation is dry territory. Yet, somehow, the town of 12 people manages to keep four liquor stores open. Barely two miles from the reservation’s epicenter, and less than 200 feet from the dry reservation line, the town perpetrates a type of violence that is, on the reservation, known as liquid genocide.

The reason for this name becomes apparent when one examines the teenage suicide rate on the reservation, which is 150 percent higher than the U.S. national average for this age group. Many attribute this death rate to the sale of alcohol to minors, which White Clay store owners are known to do. The liquor stores also break the law by selling to intoxicated people, and by trading alcohol for pornography, sexual favors — including from minors — and welfare checks. The effects of free-flowing alcohol are devastating: On the reservation, 90 percent of all court cases are related to alcohol use.

Kate, a Tokala warrior, believes that alcoholism is part of a larger problem of the disappearance of indigenous culture. For her, the only way to live in the geographical region of Pine Ridge is the indigenous way. “We are the ones on the back roads, still chopping wood. We are living the way we used to live,” she said. “It’s not hardship; it’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Kate and many others know that alcohol was introduced to her people as a means to steal from them. Living deeply connected to the history of their nation, they believe that if they shake free of the colonized mindset, alcohol wouldn’t even be an issue.

Threats to the land

In addition to trying to close down White Clay, the Oglala Lakota Nation is actively fighting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through South Dakota en route to Texas. At two points it would even intersect with a pipeline that serves as a main water source for the Sioux Nation, affecting all of the Pine Ridge reservation as well as the nearby Rosebud reservation.

Advocates for the pipeline argue the pipeline is the safest way to transport crude oil. TransCanada, the company in charge of the pipeline, predicted that the first Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois, would spill once every seven years. During its first year in operation, it spilled 12 times. The Lakota, along with other First Nations, have vowed to use direct action to stop construction of the pipeline.

For a nation whose land and sovereignty has been threatened for hundreds of years by U.S. politics, the Keystone XL pipeline is part of a long history of threats to the Lakota Nation – and to the earth itself. 

“They want to get rid of the Lakota, the protectors of the earth,” said Olowan Martinez, an organizer in the Lakota community. “But what they don’t know is when they get rid of the Lakota, the earth isn’t too far behind. Our people believe the Lakota is the earth.”

President Obama is scheduled to be make a final decision on the pipeline by the middle of 2014. While the Lakota are hoping he will not approve the project, they are also getting ready to stand up and fight. During the Liberation Day celebrations, the Lakota’s dances and stories relayed messages about sacred water and Mother Earth. The tribe has also united with other First Nations to organize a three-day direct action training called Moccasins on the Ground, which was designed to prepare people to act if the pipeline is approved.

“Dead or in prison before we allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass,” the Lakota warriors, many mounted atop horses, repeated during the Liberation Day celebration. Their words carried the weight of 521 years, and counting, of lived resistance.

Will an Oglala Lakota Doctor Become the Next U.S. Surgeon General?

 Dr. Donald Warne, Oglala Lakota, is one of three American Indians nominated by the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians to serve as U.S. Surgeon General. (Courtesy North Dakota State University)

Dr. Donald Warne, Oglala Lakota, is one of three American Indians nominated by the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians to serve as U.S. Surgeon General. (Courtesy North Dakota State University)

Tanya Lee, Indian Country Today Media Network

Dr. Donald Warne, Oglala Lakota, sees his nomination to serve as U.S. Surgeon General as an opportunity—not for himself personally, but rather to bring American Indian health issues to the forefront of national consciousness. “It is a tremendous honor to be part of the conversation. This is an opportunity to include American Indian health issues in the national discussion, to raise those issues to a national level,” says Warne, who was nominated by the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians.

Under his leadership, Warne says, one part of that discussion would be about diabetes, a disease on which Warne has done considerable work. “American Indians have a higher incidence of diabetes and a higher rate of complications from the disease, including heart disease and amputations, than does the general population,” he says. The reason? Poverty.

“The Indian Health Service is underfunded. Many American Indians don’t have access to healthier food, exercise opportunities and wellness programs, nor to the newest and best medications,” he explains.

A priority for Warne would be reducing this and other health disparities. “Impoverished people get sick, suffer and die at a much earlier age than others. Many people within this nation do not have access to health care. I see a terrible disparity and would work to achieve health equity, to make sure every population has the opportunity to live in a healthy way.”

Warne says the U.S. Surgeon General is the “nation’s doctor,” with the responsibility of leading the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and identifying the best scientific data to prevent and treat disease. He mentions two instances in which the surgeon general has had a profound impact on the health of the nation. The report of the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health in 1964 led to warning labels on cigarette packages and other anti-smoking measures, which are still being initiated by states almost 50 years after the report came out. Cigarette smoking, says Warne, is a major contributor to the damage diabetes does within the American Indian community. In the second instance, Warne cites Dr. C. Everett Koop’s role in changing public attitudes about HIV and AIDS.

Warne, born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, comes from a family of medicine men and traditional healers, and, with his mother serving as a public health nurse with the IHS, he became interested in cross-cultural medicine even before going to college. He earned his M.D. from Stanford University and his Masters in Public Health from Harvard University. Warne is currently director of the Master of Public Health Program at North Dakota State University, an adjunct professor at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and a senior policy consultant American Indian Health & Management Policy, a firm that he founded to advise tribes on health care management, as well as being involved in a raft of medical research initiatives.

At 46, Warne describes himself as on the “younger side of the equation” among the nominees, but, he says, “so is President Obama.”

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/23/will-oglala-lakota-doctor-become-next-us-surgeon-general-150545

President Obama to issue 2012 Citizen Medal to Billy Mills Lakota Sioux member.

Photo Courtesy of Running Strong for American Indian Youth website

Photo Courtesy of Running Strong for American Indian Youth website

By Monica Brown, Tulalip Writer

President Barack Obama will be honoring civilians today with the second-highest civilian honor—the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal— in 1969 the Citizens Medal was established to honor American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.

Among the list of 13 selected is Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota.  Mills co-founded and serves as the spokesman for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that supports cultural programs and provides health and housing assistance for Native American communities.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by the President in this extraordinary way,” said Billy on the Running Strong for American Indian Youth website. “The most powerful thing you can give to a child is a dream. I hope every child in Indian Country knows what is possible if you follow your dream.”

Mills is most remembered for his unexpected Gold Medal win in the 10,000 meter run during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Today, he remains the only American to ever win this event it is is frequently referred to as the greatest Olympic distance race of all time. Afterwards Mills received his Lakota name, “Makoce Te’hila” which means “Loves His Country” or more traditionally “Respects the Earth”.

Today Billy travels over 300 days every year. He visits American Indian communities throughout the U.S. and speaks to American Indian youth about healthy lifestyles and taking pride in their heritage, states the website for running Strong.

Mills along with the other 12 honorees were among a group of 6,000 nominations.