UND Center for Community Engagement

Lisa, Day 4 – Fort Yates

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2012 at 11:59 am

By now sleeping on floors is doing a number on my back.  I woke up a little after 5am since I couldn’t go back to sleep.  I took a shower right away to make sure I got my shower in ahead of some people (nobody was up anyway) and did some of my homework as required for this trip.  As everyone else got up and ready we left again for the Sitting Bull College for a tour.  The tour was great- the buildings were new and there are some newly established programs that the college has for their students which were really interesting to hear about.

We went through the college store where there was some cool stuff. I loved that they had Lakota and Dakota dictionaries on the shelves.  I taught Yuma and Leo how to say a couple of greetings in Lakota/Dakota, but that’s about all I know.  I ended up buying a book called “Honor the Grandmothers, Dakota and Lakota Women tell their Stories.” I have read a couple of pages already so far.

After the tour and meeting the President of Sitting Bull College, Dr. Laurel Vermillion, we were on our way to do our service work for the day. First we ate some soup and fry bread, which was good because I haven’t had any fry bread in a long time. Then we were split up in two groups, one to the Standing Rock head start program and one to the elderly meal site (where I went). We were supposed to help prepare meals that were to be delivered to the elderly in the community but by the time we got there they were already sent out, so one of the ladies recommended we go around the elder community (elderly housing surrounding the meal site) and offer to take out their trash and other odd jobs if needed.  Leo and I, along with Ruth and Michelle went around the neighborhood to help out local elders. Leo and I had some success and took out a couple of ladies garbage and helped another lady clean her yard.  Ruth and Michelle had some success helping a man do his dishes, take out his trash and fix his computer. 

We returned to the meal site to wash some of the pans that were used to cook lunch and then we were on our way to Bismarck. We went to the capitol building and met with North Dakota state Governor Jack Dalrymple.  After that we went to talk with Jasper Schneider and Bill Davis with the USDA Rural Development.  Jasper informed us about the Rural Development program and what it does to help rural communities build their resources to help maintain their economy and sustainability.  They help out many small communities (even larger ones such as Grand Forks) in North Dakota including Tribal communities.  They help with grants and loans to individuals who may want to purchase a home or start a business, electric co-ops who want to expand service, communities who may want to upgrade their water system.  He was super informative about the process of how to get the funds for these kinds of projects.  Jasper gave a recent example of how the program helped Buffalo, North Dakota (a town we are staying in tonight actually) renovate their grocery store in order to save it and keep it a functioning business.

Jasper said that a lot of the reservations are still in poverty and that unemployment in higher than the rest of North Dakota. I haven’t researched any kind of statistics but I believe it to be true.  Growing up on Fort Berthold and on other reservations I noticed that the casinos are the only major place of employment.  The Reservation has very little built capital and human capital is very low.  I didn’t know about this program until today and I feel more informed now that I know where the funding for some small town and reservation projects come from. 

After our visit with Mr. Schneider, it was about a two and a half hour drive then we pulled into Buffalo, North Dakota.  We were greeted by Liane Stout, unpacked then we sat and talked about our trip.  I said my favorite was the stop at Painted Canyon because I love the Badlands; they are too beautiful for words.  I also mentioned Regent and the enchanted highway because I find Mr. Gary Greffs creativity fascinating. I admire his dedicated to his art and to his town and I really hope to come back and see the Enchanted Castle when it is done (if there is room). I also loved their museum. I am looking forward to sleeping in a bed tonight at the Kasowski’s House here in Buffalo and doing our final project tomorrow!

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