Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux community steps up to help those in need

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Law Enforcement Services distributed holiday gifts to children on the reservation in South Dakota. Photo: Rosebud Sioux Tribe Communications

A Salute To Holiday Volunteers
By Vi Waln

Lakota Country Times Columnist

The holiday season is generally a hard one for many of us. December marks a host of tragic anniversaries for Lakota-Dakota-Nakota people. Much of the historical trauma we suffer today is a result of violence suffered by our people during the time of year America celebrates their Christmas season.

Many families on our reservations also live in extreme poverty. The lack of a viable economy means there are just not enough jobs to go around. Consequently, it is not uncommon for the working people living on our homelands to provide financial or other support to extended family members. Our people have become accustomed to going without many comforts that middle-class American families take for granted.

We have 20 communities on the Rosebud. Each community elects a team of officers to oversee business. In addition, limited funds are allotted each month from the tribe’s casino revenue for each community. The spending of these community funds must be documented by the officers. A portion of the funding is for general community expenses, while other money is designated specifically for youth activities.

During the recent holiday season, many community officers and volunteers worked hard to provide a meal, gifts and candy bags for their members. Many gatherings were held in the community centers for all members to enjoy. It takes great effort to organize these community gatherings. Officers elected to community positions generally do not receive a salary for the work they do.

Also, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement coordinated a Christmas gift distribution last month. Gifts were purchased and wrapped for children ages 0-12 years old. Gifts not distributed by the police department were made available for pick up by community officers as long as supplies lasted. These gifts were handed out during many of the community holiday parties. These gifts were made possible through donations from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Law Enforcement, Sand and Gravel; Game, Fish and Parks; Solid Waste and Social Services Programs.

The Toys for Tots program also distributed gifts for children living on the Rosebud Reservation. This effort was organized by Neola Red Hawk and family. Many tribal children benefited from this gift distribution also. This is another program fully supported through donations.

Serving in these highly visible public positions for tribal communities is a lot of work. Much of this work is done on a volunteer basis. It’s often a thankless job and sometimes community officers are criticized by tribal citizens for their efforts. It’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t type of service. Still, many community officers continue to serve because they genuinely care about the needs not being met in their districts, especially during the holiday season. They are committed to helping their fellow tribal citizens.

Quality wrapped gifts, as well as bags filled with Christmas candy, peanuts and fruit, were truly appreciated by many of our children. Despite the criticism from adults, the little ones had a better holiday season due to the efforts of all who worked hard to provide Christmas presents and treats. Consequently, when you work hard to sponsor a holiday party in your community, the stinging words of the unappreciative naysayers falls away when you watch the children in your district having a great time at the holiday party.

Visit the Lakota Country Times and subscribe today

Wopila to the volunteers on the Rosebud Reservation who worked hard to make the holiday season a better time for our children. I especially want to thank the group of volunteers from the He Dog Community who sponsored an awesome holiday get together on New Year’s Eve. Many of our children who might have gone without gifts and treats during this holiday season really enjoyed their community party.

Again, thank you for your volunteer service. You are showing us how to be good ancestors.

(Vi Waln is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and is a nationally published journalist.)

Find the award-winning Lakota Country Times on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter and download the new Lakota Country Times app today.

Join the Conversation