Modern Day Warriors

Our first post of this season is not really a poem but it gives the reader a sense of the bravery and organizational ability of Mary Tobacco and her work crew trying to create livable places for very poor people on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Have a blest day,

John st sj


“Modern Day Warriors” is how my niece Joni described the Wakpamni District Construction Crew.  I have to agree.  In addition to the technical team (e.g., Security, Office Staff) Pine Ridge is alive with work teams bearing legendary names – – Black Elk, Catches, Hard Heart, Lakota, Little Hawk, Red Cloud, Returns from Scout, Running Hawk, Standing Bear, Tobacco, Two Lance, Wounded, Yellow Hair, Young Man (Afraid of His Horses);  look up their ancestry.  They are descendants of warriors, who, like their ancestors, take great risks each day on a battlefield with an invisible and dangerous enemy that has already taken so many beautiful lives.  They work to protect the most vulnerable by repairing homes and lives.

Some houses are so damaged that they should be demolished, but they house our elders, our children, our most vulnerable (“unsiga”), and there is nowhere else to go.  The sacred people who live in them find a way, under falling ceilings, using failed sewer systems, breathing toxic air, relying on makeshift heating and cooling, sometimes without safe water.   Others sleep in their cars or at their relatives; more wander from place to place.  The WD Construction Crew are taking up hammers, saws, drill guns to transform these spaces up to safe livable homes.  Some are irreparable so the WD Construction Crew has taken up the call to build homes as well.

Other warriors within the WD crews provide services like food delivery, cleaning, security, answer calls to provide help for those who are sick and trying to remain healthy.

Warriors can be seen throughout the Pine Ridge Reservation during this pandemic.  Look around Pine Ridge and see the women and men working to provide safer, cleaner spaces – restoring buildings that have been empty for the most part.

If you get a chance stop and ask them their names and thank them.

I’m proud of our crews and grateful for them everyday.

Mary Tobacco, President
Wakpamni District

                     Wakpamni Work Crew


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