July has been a busy month for the High Horses and the community of Wanblee. The Pow Wow is happening now as I write this, Jerome and Theresa attended but didn’t stay long as they had to get back to oversee volunteers working on community projects. They did get to the Sun Dance and sweat lodge as did some of their visitors.
Jerome, his work crew and some Youthworks volunteers worked on getting Bernadette’s house ready for the re-build that began this week and continues for two weeks. Volunteers from Wisconsin and Minnesota arrived to begin the complete re-construction of the house. The house was in such sad shape Jerome’s crew had to strip it down to the framework. This project has been 2 -3 years in the making and is finally being realized thanks to this group of volunteers and the efforts of Jerome and Theresa who were instrumental in finding funding and workers for the job. They’ve spent many hours coordinating this project and looking for constructions materials including the services of a backhoe. We’ll share photos of the finished home when completed. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit donated a bed to Bernadette and to her son and a new refrigerator, the Wisconsin group will be bringing more household items too. Theresa has been saving things for Bernadette that come in on the monthly NAHA truck such as sheets, towels, a comforter, dishes and some bathroom items. Someone donated a tent so Bernadette will be camping outside her home during construction.
Hopefully this group of workers will also have time to build ramps for three disabled elders. The original plan was to arrive last week so they could help clear wood from a lady’s ranch to get ahead of the winter wood project but those plans changed so Jerome and his crew of young men will begin that work after the house build is over.
If this build is a success, there’s already a plan to raise funds to build a small home for an elder with heart problems like the one they built for Roland. Roland still isn’t in his new home as he’s deciding if he wants to live in his current trailer, on his uncle’s land (a temporary move as the property changes hands upon his death), or in the town of Wanblee. Jerome and a friend are inquiring about buying some deeded land in town to put the house on if Roland agrees to move there.
Outhouses are a big need on the Rez, many homes have no running water or sewage systems. Youthworks built some new outhouses for those that lost them to recent storms but their time on the Rez has come to an end as it’s time to head home for school or college. Each week a new crew of young people arrived and were assigned a project to work on, coordinators were the same and remained on the Rez for the summer. Houses were painted, home repairs made, weeds mowed around homes and outhouses and the young people that came learned about the Rez and Lakota culture and made many lasting friendships and memories.
Recently NAHA donated 8 queen size mattresses so Jerome and his crew built frames for each bed out of pallets. Gotta love those pallets and the items you can make from them! Having a bed frame gets people off the cold, drafty floors so they stay warmer during the frigid winters. There aren’t enough beds for everyone in many homes on the Rez so they have a “community bed” meaning many family members share the same bed. Those new beds will need sheets, pillows, pillowcases and some warm blankets for those of you that want to help. Pillowcases are easy to make and any extra’s can always be used, if you have any gently used sheets send them too. One of our future projects will be making warm items for the cold winter ahead and blankets will be on that list.
Jerome has also been busy (does he ever sleep?) insulating, installing electric and skirting around the storage truck so he can store the summer machinery there in the winter. The truck has been moved to its final resting spot on his property. Hopefully we’ll receive photos to share with you.
People are still working in the community garden which took a beating from a recent hail storm destroying some of the crops. Some things have recovered though and people are enjoying the fresh veggies.
The High Horses held a naming ceremony and 7 people were given their Lakota names. A wide variety of people attended including adults who had never received a name and children of various ages. The recipient’s first and last names are translated into Lakota and they’re given a name that’s relevant to native culture, usually pertaining to nature such as “Soaring Eagle”.
School starts August 28th and I’m sure we easily reached our goal of 25 filled backpacks. A big thanks goes out to Pat Jacks and her Franciscan fraternity, they filled 5 complete backpacks and collected over 100 notebooks, tons of pencils, pens, filler paper, binders, scissors, glue, glue sticks sharpeners, crayons, colored pencils, folders, etc. Those supplies will go a long way in filling up those school bags and pencil cases our members are either sewing or buying. Donna S, Jennifer B, Carol B, Pat J, Beulah L and others are making some of those. We’re hoping folks will send in some pics so we can share with you in a future blog. Thanks also go out to Carol M, Janet S, Ruth G, Kerry R , Donna S. Alice A , to name a few donors and many others who’ve already sent school supplies. Darlene D and her hubby are driving their supplies to SD on their way to their vacation spot. Please continue sending supplies, the kids will need to be re-supplied again in January after Christmas break and prices will increase dramatically after the “back to school” sales are over. Think about storing a few now for January.
The back to school picnic that was being planned is temporarily on hold until they can find funds to purchase the food, a definite decision will be made in the next few weeks. Children were to receive their school supplies during the picnic but they will still be handed out regardless. Let’s cross our fingers the needed funding will be found and the picnic happens as it’s a nice way to end the summer and start the new school year.
The sewing circle is meeting, sewing supplies are arriving and another sewing machine has been donated by a Wisconsin supporter. Fabric and thread are ongoing needs so please send as you can. Raid your stash, check out garage sales and thrift stores as Carol M did, ask friends and family for donations. Karen H sent fabric for quilts and to make regalia such as shawls and jingle dresses. Carol BJ from Dress A Girl Tucson receives lots of fabric donations so she shared some with Theresa as well. Judy C sent pin cushions she made for all the ladies, others have sent notions, scissors, etc. Theresa says they still need more pins, needles, thread, quilt batting and polyester fiberfill . Batting and polyester fill are needed as their first projects will be pillows and quilts, an 8 year old made her first pillow the other day. If you have any spare quilting rulers send them along too.
When the circle begins their quilt making they plan to have two teams, one group will do the piecing and the other will be hand quilting around a frame just like the quilting bees of the past. They’re looking for a large quilting frame so if you have one to donate let us know. If you have DIY plans to make one or have other ideas please share with us. There are some smaller PVC quilting frames heading to the Rez so that’s a start but they’re looking for a frame large enough to have several quilters working on the same quilt at a time. The group would like to eventually find a long-arm quilting machine so they can produce a quality product to sell. The machine would be community owned belonging to the sewing circle. Women who are lucky enough to own a sewing machine and make quilts for profit have to find someone with a long-arm machine to do the quilting which can cost upwards of $200 or more which cuts deeply into their profits. Women on Rosebud Reservation have acquired a machine and started a business so the women of Wanblee would like to do the same. For now the quilts being made will be for families in need or their own personal use.
WIC was really pleased to receive all the donations you’ve sent for babies and toddlers so a big thanks those of you that sent them. Ruth G sent a big box of toys for the daycare center, which they were thrilled to receive, we’ll let you know if there are more things needed. Our apologies to those of you we didn’t mention by name, there are so many that donated to this project we lost count! We know that none of you helping the Rez are doing it for name recognition but we still like to give credit where credit is due so if we missed you let us know.
More popcorn supplies have arrived on the Rez thanks again to our supporters, Carol M being one of our biggest popcorn suppliers. July has been too busy with work projects, Pow Wow’s, etc. to show movies but everything is being saved for whenever movie night resumes, hopefully soon. Winters are long so having a chance to go to the movies is a really big treat for the kids and something they look forward to.
Food donations have come in from Alice A and many others that stuff the corners of their boxes with food items. Theresa loves to get small cans of tuna, chicken, ham, spam, etc. to give out to families to add to their soup pot adding a little protein for those growing children.
Well that’s all the news for now. Find a project that interests you or contact us for suggestions of how to help. Every conversation I have with Jerome begins with a request to thank all of you for your wonderful gifts. You make his and Theresa’s job so much easier as they have something to give out when families come calling with a need. Many of you send things we never hear about until I call Jerome so thanks to all of you generous people working behind the scenes. Everything you send is needed by someone and appreciated, you are making life a little easier and giving hope to children and their families. Thank you!!!