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Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Needs Your Help Suicide Is At An All Time HIGH!

When I think about the genocide that was perpetrated against the First Nations of North America, my heart weeps and I feel angry at the same time. People talk about the American Way, but never say that this land was founded on the DEATH and Slavery of others! Many of these atrocities were committed many years ago, but the impact can still be felt by the aboriginal community to this very day. All we have to do is look at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. One of our comrades, Joshua Ford, has put together a fundraiser for the WOUNDED KNEE DISTRICT SCHOOL…Read all of  the info below and you will see that young kids are paying for the past with their lives to this very day! Also, check out an interesting feature that was done by the New York Times HERE!


Every child deserves a chance for hope…

But on South Dakota’s  Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, hope can be hard to come by.   There are harrowing statistics about life on reservation, but a recent discussion with a community leader cast light on an issue that needs immediate attention:  The Lakota children here have an adolescent suicide rate that is four times the national average. This year, more than 100 Pine Ridge youths between the ages of 9 and 24 have attempted suicide, and 19 have died by suicide.  We are asking you to join us and help a community in need.

There are warriors working for change here on the reservation but they need assistance/resources to battle this epidemic.  I recently spoke with Alice Phelps, Principal at Wounded Knee District School and a beacon of hope for students at Pine Ridge.  She shared with me the heartbreaking story of students whose lives are ending too soon, at their own hands. This conversation inspired us to do something greater than a simple donation from our family (though we too are donating!)

Why are the children losing hope?  Economic and social issues on Pine Ridge date back to the creation of the reservation.  125 years later, this county has the lowest adult life expectancy in the United States and the 2nd lowest in the Western Hemisphere (only Haiti has a lower rate). It is in the second poorest county in the United States.


pine ridge

A portrait of Santana Janis, a 12-year-old Lakota Indian, in the home of her grandfather Keith Janis, foreground, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Nine people ages 12 to 24 have committed suicide there since December. Credit: Kristina Barker for The New York Times

How did it get to this point?  Photographer Aaron Huey gave a very emotional TED talk on Pine Ridge and the history of the United States’ broken promises to the Lakota.  Please watch the video, which also contains Huey’s documentary images of life on the reservation.

Where will these funds go?   We have created this fundraiser to assist Principal Phelps and Wounded Knee School with funds to implement suicide prevention programs. 100% of the donations will go directly from crowdrise to Wounded Knee District School.   

This is the season of giving. Give back the greatest gift of all to these children: hope.


We know these donations will make a difference, but we are also committed to continuing to assist long term, hands on…  In my conversation with Principal Phelps, I pledged commitment from Ford Photography to partner with the Wounded Knee School by creating/executing a workshop to expose their students to photography and focus on building creativity, pride and identity through the medium. Over the next year, a curriculum for this workshop will be developed/tested and presented to the school board.  This fundraiser is solely for their own programs, not for the photography workshops, which will be phase two…  

Thank you so much for your time/assistance!   The Fords

(profile photo credit: Kristina Barker for The New York Times)

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