“It is hard being poor” said Will Peters, a Lakota high school teacher born and raised on the reservation. “But I’m not leaving. I have two degrees, my wife has three. We could go anywhere. My home is here, our home is here. My ancestors are buried on this land. We are needed and no amount of hardship will make us cut and run. So we stay to ease the burden of poverty and oppression endured by so many. It is who we are.”
A common question asked by those who visit Pine Ridge is, “Why don’t they just leave?” It’s simple. The Lakota are family born of a common history, a common spirit, a common pride. One does not leave this family, no matter the circumstance. There are NO orphans.
This culture of poverty creates many obstacles to a life fulfilled, and many do not find it. But many do, and those voices are the voices that echo in my heart, in my soul. The culture of addiction also burdens many with lives of great struggle, and many of us do not make it either. But many do, and in those voices we find fellowship. Cut and Run? Hell no! Our men at Solutions got a look at a world where walking the walk is a daily struggle for mere survival. But it is being walked, daily, by Will and many others who carry a message of hope. THAT is the warrior’s way. May we offer that same message? Mitakuye Oyasin.