Matt Blythe and Chris discussing the work ahead on the Rosebud reservation

Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations”. – Black Elk


A nice cleansing rain delayed work to prepare and prime Chris’s house. But, with a bit of “let’s just do something”, we got to painting and quickly primed the whole house – watching in awe as the experienced staff power-washed the areas we had just scraped. The second coat went on better than the first,  allowing time for ice cream just before lunch.

“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break. A streak of toughness combined with optimism is a good passport for life.” – Alumni Global Volunteer Helen Blythe

Team members painting

The team worked together to prepare the house for painting before the “painting crew” took over.

Anyone can paint on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.

Meticulous care:  Our hearty and energetic alumni volunteer, Helen, has a talent for painting!

Mother Lauren, our host, gave us a quick lesson on using the wood splitters, and we split wood that will be delivered to the elderly for use during the winter months. The afternoon was spent driving to Wounded Knee to view the memorial there. It was a somber experience. In the evening, we were invited to GLORY, which is a children’s group run by Mother Lauren. We played games with the children and enjoyed a dinner together.

We were regaled in the evening by Sage Fast Dog, who discussed Lakota culture among many other things, including many federal laws causing poverty, the extreme importance of tradition, receiving eagle honor feathers, coming together, owls symbolizing messengers of death, elements of ceremonial dress, and the importance of honor and respect. He ended the evening “teaching” traditional social dances.

“Sage Fast Dog’s regalia, hand beaded by his wife, with featherwork done by himself, is a stunning representation of Lakota pageantry.” Barbara Morris.

Cultural lessons

Sage Fast dog explains the traditional dress on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.

We ended the day with a discussion with Mother Lauren about what was needed to help ameliorate the hopelessness that was felt by many on the reservation. It was a lively discussion, and gave us a glimpse into what was being done and what Mother Lauren felt the community needed. All in all, it was another day of learning about life on the Rosebud reservation.

“We thank the Lakota of Rosebud Reservation in Mission, South Dakota, for sharing their corner of the world with us this day.”- Helen Blythe (11-time alumna Global Volunteer)

For more information on Volunteering on the Rosebud Reservation click here.

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