Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Friday Night, October 14
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION - This Friday night, October 14, ABC's "20/20" features four Lakota youth in "A Hidden America: Children of the Plains," who live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The program, which airs at 10:00 pm edt, will feature ABC News anchor and veteran journalist Diane Sawyer, who traveled to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to take an in-depth look into young dreamers and survivors of the reservation.
The "20/20" program will provide a glimpse into the lives of four Lakota children who come from a rich history of strong-willed and determined people who have lived in the Plains for a couple centuries. Yet, after being stripped of their land and left on their reservation, the Lakota have been largely left neglected.
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the poorest places to live in the United States where unemployment rates are estimated to range from 65 percent to 80 percent and 47 percent individuals live below the poverty level.
"A Hidden America: Children of the Plains" is the result of a one-year long filming of the four Lakota youth, who share on screen their dreams and aspirations for the future.
"I feel real excitement about the exposure from this program because a lot of positive things are happening to make for a better economy and the revitalization of Lakota," Tashina Banks, Lakota/Ojibwa, told the Native News Network on Wednesday morning.
Banks was interviewed for the show in two different capacities she fulfills in her professional life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She is the director of advancement operations at the Red Cloud High School in Pine Ridge and serves as the director of human resources for two Subway restaurants. In both capacities, she deals with Lakota youth. She recently was interviewed in New York City while on business to the East Coast for the Red Cloud School.
Banks is daughter of the Dennis Banks, one of the co-founders of the American Indian Movement.
"Our students at Red Cloud take two year of language classes to learn Lakota. They actually have to learn to speak the language. We don't just put words with pictures on the wall. We have those, but our students have to speak the language," comments Banks with excitement in her voice as she describes the resurgence of the deep Lakota culture students learn. "This has instilled a lot of confidence and pride in our youth."
Here is a glimpse into the four lives to be featured as provided by ABC News:
Twelve year old Robert Looks Twice is captain of his middle school football team, a prize-winning traditional dancer at powwows, president of the student council, with the biggest dream of all: to be the first Native American president. He lives with his grandmother, uncle and eight cousins, helps feed his family with his powwow prize money.
Alaina Clifford is a bright, well-spoken 18 year old cheerleader, singer, and actress, known for having the best singing voice at Little Wound High School. Alaina is dating athlete and star student Montana Sierra, who graduated from the only private school on the reservation, Red Cloud Indian School, with a free ride to college from the prestigious Millennium Gates Scholarship and a dream to be an architect. But the two face a harsh reality when Alaina unexpectedly becomes pregnant only four months after they begin dating. Now Alaina has to face tough choices about her next steps, unsure of whether or not she can follow her dreams.
Twelve year old Louise Clifford loves reading and math, and is learning how to speak Lakota. Her spirituality is very important to her, as is her horse, Glory Bee. But Louise struggles with an extremely unstable home life - her alcoholic mother Sissy struggles to hold down a job and keep the power and heat on throughout a harsh winter. Louise tried to commit suicide when she was just 11 years old and now her teachers and counselors are rallying around her.
Little Tashina Iron Horse is only five years old but has a huge personality - chatty and vivacious, a bubbly student in her kindergarten class, and a tiny but talented powwow dancer. Tashina lives in government housing with her grandmother, parents, siblings and uncles - sometimes 19 people live in the three bedroom house together. Tashina wants to grow up to be a cop, a career choice inspired by her mother, who works long hours as a security guard at the reservation's casino 45 minutes away. Her father DJ is getting his GED and applying for a position in the tribe's fire department when tragedy strikes the family.
Banks said she is part of a group that will Twitter with Diane Sawyer, during the program on Friday night.
posted October 13, 2011 10:50 am edt
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