By Native News Online staff, October 3, 2016
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION – 1,000 Young Native Americans from the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe are raising $100,000 to pay for the transport, tents, sleeping bags, and food needed for them to reach the pipeline protest site, according to One Spirit Native Progress.
The Standing Rock Lakota Sioux are taking a stand to protect the water, the land, and their heritage threatened by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The construction led by Energy Transfer Inc. has already destroyed ancient burial sites, prayer grounds, and sacred artifacts. The Standing Rock Lakota have been joined by members of 280 other tribes, and the youth from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation want to join their elders and stand with them.
Not only would this strengthen the #NODAPL movement, it could also be a turning point in stopping the epidemic of youth suicide on the reservation. If you’re wondering why so many teens are choosing to end their own life, look at these numbers:
- 97% of the population at Pine Ridge Reservation live below federal poverty line.
- The unemployment rate on the Reservation vacillates between 85% and 95%.
- The median income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is less than $3,500 PER YEAR.
- 75% of the youth drop out of school.
- At least 60% of the homes are without water, electricity, insulation, or sewage systems.
- The Pine Ridge Reservation has the shortest life expectancy of any community in the Western Hemisphere outside Haiti. It’s a third-world situation right in America’s back yard.
Despite these difficult conditions, Lakota youth are determined to support their people, make an impact, and be part of the history that Native tribes are creating right now. Many Oglala Lakota have already played a key part in the pipeline opposition. Most of the youth have been supporting their elders from afar until now, but they are determined to reach the protest site to lend their voice to the movement in person. They are more than their circumstances, and they are determined to prove it.