Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge
by Vic Glover
Native Voices | 160 pp | $9.95
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Entertainment. Discussion »
Speaking before tribal leaders from all parts of Indian country at the White House Tribal Nations Conference last December, President Barack Obama reminded America of how the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the poorest parts of America.
"And unemployment there is rampant; high rates of disease and violence are often forcing folks to downsize their dreams,"
declared the President.
The President was timely in reminding America about the reservation.
Just the day before the conference in Washington, DC, Bryan Brewer was sworn in as the new president of Oglala Sioux Tribe. President Obama was timely because President Brewer is very aware of the task before him.
President Brewer knows there is shortage of housing on the reservation. The situation is dire. Houses built for four or five people have up to 24 living in some houses. President Brewer wants to attract dollars to the reservation to build new houses so that the overcrowding can be lessened.
Given the difficult conditions of the reservation for many, some wonder how people living there cope. Vic Glover's "Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge" may help those who wonder understand a tad better.
"Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge" is a gem of a book that reveals life on the reservation in modern day America.
Glover is a Vietnam veteran combat medic, a former journalist and professor of communications capture life on the "rez" with humor, social commentary, and, most important, a whole lot of compassion."Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge" is comprised of numerous short essays written by Glover. He covers a lot of ground in this short book of essays. His essays examine commodity foods, sun dance, rez dogs, family ties, among several other topics.
In one essay, called "Generosity," Glover writes:
“People out there in American world don't know how pitiful America's First Citizens really are. It's amazing how many of the alert, intelligent, open-minded, forward-thinking, well-intentioned, fortunate sons and daughters just two states away have no idea we're here. Despite us thinking we're the center of universe, many people don't know where Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is, or that Wounded Knee happened here, or that Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were Lakota.”
In another essay, Glover reminds the reader how President Clinton went to Pine Ridge and declared it an Empowerment Zone and promised do something about the living conditions on the reservation. President Clinton went there during the summer of 1999 with his HUD secretary, Andrew Cuomo, and promised more houses.
First published in 2004, "Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge," the book is part of Native Voice's catalog out now.
One would hope President Obama gets a copy - and better yet, visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and really empower the people this time. The tribe that produced Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull - and now led by President Brewer - deserves attention.
Pine Ridge deserves another look.
updated July 13, 2013 6:40 am edt; posted December 8, 2012 9:59 am est