For all of you who have asked...
This campaign was a HUGE SUCCESS even though we did not meet the goal. We are still accepting donations through our fiscal sponsor, the NATIONAL INDIAN YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROJECT. (www.niylp.org) All donations are a tax-deduction.
This site will remain online, so please leave a comment, click "FAVORITE" so that you receive our updates. Mitakuye Oyas'in -
“Our children are sacred; they're our future.
If we don’t save our children, then our culture won't survive.”
Donald Warne, MD, MPH, Oglala Lakota
THE ISSUE -
It's difficult to convey the human challenges that people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota are facing. The infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths of babies under one year old per 1,000 live births. The IMR on Pine Ridge is 300% higher than the national average - the highest in the US. Moms face racism, poverty and psychological challenges.
WHY I STOPPED FILMING TO RAISE THIS MONEY: After years of research regarding the history and reasons American Indians have the worst health disparities in the US, Kitty Farmer is producing a documentary film, What's in the Heart - Can't be Taken. (trailer)
"The statistics on Indian health are heartbreaking - American people have no idea the unimaginable and preventable suffering our American Indian neighbors are enduring. It's as if we're talking about a third world country."
New York Times/Wall Street Journal Statistics -
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
- 97% of of the population on Pine Ridge live below federal poverty line.
- Unemployment rate vacillates from 85% - 95%.
- Death due to heart disease: twice the national average.
- Elderly die each winter from hypothermia.
- Median income on Pine Ridge is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
- 60% of homes are substandard, no water, electricity, adequate insulation, and sewage systems.
- Teen suicide is 4 times the national average.
- Average life expectancy is between 45 years and 48 years for men and 52 years for women, the shortest in the Western hemisphere outside Haiti.
Indians are not welfare receipients. The land and resources that have made the USA the most powerful country in the world were not lost in warfare, but rather exchanged for basic social services - healthcare, housing and education. The exchange that took place is documented in 494 legally-binding treaties (contracts) and is included in the US constitution.
It's fair to say that after 200 + years, the government may never fulfill its' legal trust responsibility to American Indians. In the meantime, our Indian neighbors need our help. Programs like Healthy Start are critical to supplement the abysmal failure of the government to honor this responsibility. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, calls the government's treatment of American Indians, "a historic failure."
Natalie White Plume & Angelina, Oglala Lakota - Photo Credit: Deanne Fitzmaurice
FASTEST WAY TO HELP IN THE MEANTIME -
One of the wisest investments regarding this crisis is in Maternal/Child Health. To allow Lakota babies a "healthy start" from pre to post-natal means a lesser chance of developing all the preventable diseases that cause lives to be lived very sick, short and full of suffering.
HOPE and the SOLUTION -
With Pine Ridge serving as a case study for the film, Kitty became familiar with the remarkable Healthy Start Program (HS). The Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) HS program with barely enough money for pens and copy paper is turning the despair and statistics around - through education, nutrition, traditional Lakota values and emotional support for the at-risk moms and babies.
Last year, Roberta Ecoffey, coordinator of the OST HS program was told they had to vacate their offices due to asbestos. A mold-infested trailer was given as a replacement. Obviously unaccepetable, they quickly moved into a storage room behind a video store. Recently, an engineer from the Indian Health Service inspected the room and declared that it was a health hazard due to high levels of rat feces, which can cause the Hanta Virus. Because of this, the heat cannot be turned on!
Roberta and one other co-worker serve over 380 mothers. Shocked by what the HS program was going through, Kitty stopped production of the film, and became determined to raise the money for a new HS home.
The new Healthy Start Center building will provide not only a space, but hope for a brighter future.
Just down the highway from where the new HS Center will be located is the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre where 123 years ago, 290 unarmed Lakota women, children, babies and elders were massacred by the US 7th Cavalry. Despite this unimaginable loss and trauma, the Lakota have a resilient spirit that is undeniable - they need our help in providing a 'healthy start' for the future Lakota Nation.
Many tribes are wealthy because of casinos, but Pine Ridge is not one of them. Programming for HS comes from the federal government. The idea of a new building seemed hopeless. So, the quest began – where would HS find a warm, safe office?
AMAZING TEAM FOR THE SOLUTION -
While on Pine Ridge, Kitty also met with Henry Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota, winner of the 2012 World Energy Globe Awards, the world's most prestigious environmental award. Henry, a "modern-day Lakota solar warrior" builds sustainable houses and unique solar heating systems. While speaking with Henry about the state of the HS office, the idea was born that he could help by creating a sustainable, culturally-relevant building that is easily replicable on other reservations.
After reading about the needs of the program, Ritch Voss, AIA, LEED-A, Senior Associate/Architect of the Dahlin Group asked for his firm to be chosen to draw the plans for the new HS center. This was a dream come true - one of the nation's leading architectural firms combining their expertise with Henry's ingenuity and vision to provide the Lakota with a better future! The OST tribal council has granted 5 acres located in the center of Pine Ridge village for the new HS Center - a very convenient location for moms who often have no car.
Your donation will not only prevent unnecessary deaths of Lakota babies, but provide jobs and training for Lakota men and women.
The team will make certain to provide training and jobs first and foremost to Lakota men and women during construction.
This team has agreed to pursue the funding, design and construction of the new HS Center, which has the support of the OST Tribal Council. The team is uniquely qualified to see this project through. The National Indian Youth Leadership Project, a 501 (c) (3) will fiscally sponsor the project, so all donations are a tax deduction.
We're beginning PHASE 1 of a 2-phase project to see this building completed.
In PHASE 1, we'll finalize the design, sustainability features, permits, engineering and ultimately have architectural drawings to further raise money to complete the project. (PHASE 2.) In the event the goal is exceeded, all donations will be placed into a separate account for Phase 2 (construction.)
How your donation will move this project forward.
-Full architectural drawings and Engineering
-Coordination of all permits
-Marketing for Phase 2 fundraising, Travel
-Basic expenses for the myriad tasks associated with pulling this project together
Untold hours of work have been contributed and out of pocket travel expenses personally incurred to get this project to this point. We now need help.
-Check our perks, some of which are made by Lakota artists. Donations will also provide income for them.
Mitakuye Oyasin, 'We Are All Related' (Lakota)
Kitty Farmer - for the Healthy Start Center Building Team
Henry Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota, direct 5th generation descendent of Chief Red Cloud, one of the last Lakota war chiefs and one of the most famous Native Americans in history. Henry was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation where living conditions are extremely difficult. For 10 years, Henry has devoted himself to developing his expertise with renewable energy applications that are environmentally sound, economically beneficial, and culturally appropriate. Today, Henry is a 21st century Lakota Warrior, bringing green technology and employment to Native American communities.
As Henry says, “This is a new way to honor the old ways." Henry’s efforts to bring renewable energy to tribal lands have been recognized nationally. In 2009, he was named an Innovative Idea Champion by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). Henry recently was awarded the world’s most prestigious environmental award, 2012 World Energy Globe Awards.
Roberta Ecoffey, Oglala Lakota, coordinator of the OST Healthy Start program has worked as a research analyst for the OST Health Administration; the Health & Human Service Committee; Family Preservation Program; directed and managed the Oglala Sioux Tribal Youth Shelter; the Oglala Lakota College Project STAR that oversaw the development of a recovery program combining best practices with the wisdom of Lakota Elders regarding tradition and culture; Director and founder of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Crisis Center of the first chartered organization to contract under the Indian Self Determination Act, Public Law #93-638 to establish the first of its kind emergency shelter for abused and neglected children; implemented the Indian Child Welfare Act for the Oglala Tribe, and provided services for women in crisis; Lead instructor and director of research for the Columbia School of Social Work, Northwest Research Office in Seattle ; and worked at the Indian Health Services Mental Health Clinic while gathering information from Lakota Winter Counts (buffalo hides that tell a person’s history) to follow the effects of alcohol on the Lakota since it was first introduced.
Roberta is the great granddaughter of Chief Red Cloud and has fostered 42 children, 4 of whom she has legally adopted, one with severe disabilities.
Kitty Farmer has a life-long interest in the well being of children. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and child development and taught special education in rural communities where she saw first hand the toxic combination of racism and poverty. As a literary agent, she placed several books on the New York Times bestseller list and placed the title, Crossfire, with Oliver Stone, that led to the creation of the film, JFK. For 20 years, she represented Larry Dossey, MD, physician and author who is credited for over 100 of our country’s 135 medical schools now teaching courses in spirituality to medical students. She was deeply involved in organizing 1,000 lectures during the transition while medical and nursing schools began introducing courses in spirituality and alternative medicine.
Lacey Gaechter serves as Trees, Water & People’s National Director where she oversees all the organization’s National Programs. These include the Tribal Renewable Energy Program, through which she coordinates the distribution of renewable energy systems to tribal families, organizes renewable energy trainings for Native Americans, and facilitates sustainable business development. . Before beginning her life with TWP in 2009, Lacey graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado, then went to work for the Roaring Fork Conservancy, the City of Aspen Environmental Health Department and the Aspen Global Change Institute.
McClellan Hall, founder and director of the National Indian Youth Leadership Project which holds the highest and only “model” status by the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Health Administration (SAMSHA/NIH) in Indian country for teen prevention. Mac Hall knows better than any the issues Indian kids are faced with and has collected 20 years of data that shows his methods not only work, but in phenomenal ways. His Project Venture program is in 18 states in the USA and in 10 providences across Canada. Mac has received numerous awards, but most recently, the “Behavioral Health Award from SAMSHA. He's also a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. NIYLP, which is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit foundation will act as the fiscal sponsor for all donations.
Ritch Voss, AIA, LEED-A, Senior Associate, Senior Architect of the Dahlin Group brings more than 30 years of architectural experience to this project. During that time, he has been responsible for project management, constructions, documents and construction administration. Previously, Ritch has worked with Fort McDowell and Tohono O’odham Indian Tribes. Currently, he functions as the primary coordinator for sub-consultants and manages all construction support services. Additionally, he is LEED-AP for eco friendly designs and is NCARB certified. Fellow Dahlin architects, Michael Suchocki and Eric Muzzy will join Ritch in the design and creation of the Healthy Start Center.
Donald Warne, MD, MPH, Oglala Lakota an adjunct professor at the Arizona State University College of Law where he teaches American Indian Health Policy and is assisting in the creation of an American Indian Policy Center. He received his MD from Stanford and his MPH from Harvard with a focus on health policy. He is a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), and a Diplomat of both the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Medical Acupuncture. He has completed fellowships in Alternative Medicine from the Arizona Center for Health and Medicine and in Minority Health Policy from Harvard Medical School. He is currently Director of the MPH program at North Dakota State University. He is a recipient of the Dr. Fang Ching Sun Memorial Award for Commitment to Underserved Communities from Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Warne serves as policy and medical advisor for the Healthy Start project.
Photo Credit for Mother/Baby buffalo and Miranda and baby Jasper, Oglala Lakota
Deanne Fitzmaurice www.deannefitzmaurice.com