Jodi Rave: A candidate for the youngest generation
"I was in Pine Ridge almost 10 years ago when the former president [Bill Clinton] spoke outside Pine Ridge High School as part of his U.S. “poverty tour.”

The reservation was knighted as an economic empowerment zone in 1998, with $2 million designated to be pumped into the economy for startup businesses over 10 years.

The excitement on Pine Ridge was undeniable as Clinton raised the bar of hope among people who perennially make up the ranks of one of the poorest counties in the U.S. The unemployment rate continues to hover around 75 percent.

Clinton was scheduled to speak again at the high school Wednesday, pitching his wife's vision for the future.

And Ethel Kennedy is scheduled to arrive at Pine Ridge on Friday.

She, too, will ask the tribe's voters to think of the future. But she is there to ask Native voters to support Sen. Barack Obama.

She is the widow of Bobby Kennedy, arguably the only presidential candidate to ever campaign in Pine Ridge.

That was 40 years ago. Her husband won South Dakota and the Pine Ridge vote, but was assassinated in 1968 in California.

His visit remains a healthy memory among many Pine Ridge residents.

But the dreams of Kennedy and Clinton for an economically thriving Pine Ridge have never materialized. Instead, the community remains a microcosm of all that is right and wrong in Native America.

If jobs can be created there, if hope can be lifted, it can happen anywhere."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Offering hope to Native America (The Missoulian 5/15)

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