Thursday, December 20, 2007

Postscript to "The Last Sun Dance" And A Call For Donations to Pine Ridge

While searching for the friend of a friend for the obituary of Lakota Sun Dancer, John Cross Dog, who tragically passed a few days ago from complications from pneumonia, I found a website of a book, The True Story of Custer's Last Fight (as told by Chief Flying Hawk and written by M.I. McCreight) which included a chapter, the last, on the "last" Sun Dance in 1928 which was interrupted by a candidate looking for a photo-op with the Chief. I'll also be posting the transcript of a talk he delivered in 1948. This is the postscript to the chapter and the book.

* * * * * * * *
On returning to the east a current magazine was delivered for attention to a marked article appearing in it, viz.:

"Gaunt poverty is in almost every Indian reservation today, and so is hunger and so also is contagious disease, and so is complete subjugation of person and property of the Indian. Because of their valor in the World War the Indian was made free by law—they assume—they are entitled to the same treatment as white folks get."

"He cannot sell his own land; he cannot worship in his own way; he cannot rear his own children. If he leaves the reservation without permission he can be thrown into jail with ball and chain on his body and held any length of time without trial—no counsel, no right of appeal. The agent can do as he pleases—recognizes no superior. The Indian is a slave and a pauper in a country which abolished slavery after the bloodiest war in history, to do so."

To know from experience of many years, to see, to hear and feel at first hand, the truth of our terrible national crime, and to realize the cold-hearted indifference of Congress and the officials responsible for these conditions, is to wonder if there is a Law of Justice.

Is it any wonder they doubt the power of the white man's prayer? What has the white man's God done for them? And we hear in reply: "Ever since we heard of the white man's Manitou we have been persecuted, robbed, cheated, debased, diseased and rum-ruined by white men; nothing they told us but has proven false. What right have we to believe in him or in his God?"

To one who understands, no apology, explanation or "reason" is necessary to appreciate the gathering together of the northwest tribes, at great inconvenience and suffering, to pay a last tribute of reverence to the only God they know and understand and believe in,—by joining in the sacred ceremonies at "The Last Sun Dance of the Sioux."

And, has anything changed? Conditions remain the same on the reservation -- through another long cold winter. Please take time now to donate what you can to The People who are still suffering the lack of their rightfully owned monies and property still being held (and lost!?) by the BIA and U.S. government. You can search for your local organizations participating in holiday caravans and other efforts, or contact:

The People are suffering this winter due to the spike in propane costs, among other things -- such as pneumonia which also felled Floyd Red Crow Westerman last week. You can find info for quick PayPal donations as well as gift drives for the children and youth on the res. Please donate in memory of John Cross Dog and others.

Also, I found this URGENT plea for help, posted in October, for the Porcupine Clinic which will have to close -- the only hospital for Indian people is also facing government closure, and the people will have to drive almost 200 miles to Rapid City if they require hospitalization. PLEASE HELP! Anything you can give over this holiday season and beyond, however small, is more than the people have now.

Porcupine Clinic, located in the small community of Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota [Sioux] Reservation is out of heat. According to Stella White Eyes, Administrative Assistant for the Clinic, the Clinic has closed its doors until it can find resources to fund their heating costs. Porcupine Clinic is the only independent Indian community-controlled health clinic in the United States. It is not connected with the Federal Indian Health Services (IHS) program and is funded primarily by grants and donations. Unfortunately, those resources have become exceptionally rare this year.

Porcupine Clinic opened its doors in 1992 and serves the entire Reservation as well as the Porcupine District in which it is located. Patients are billed according to their ability to pay and many patients, including low-income Elders and children, receive free health care there. In 2004, the Porcupine Clinic opened its dialysis unit, saving countless lives of those diabetic patients who could not journey 120 miles away to Rapid City for needed dialysis treatment several times a week. The only other dialysis treatment available on the 11,000 square mile (2.7 million acres) Reservation is located in the small IHS Hospital in the community of Pine Ridge. But that facility hosts only a handful of dialysis beds, is up to 100 miles away from the more remote areas of the Reservation, and is completely unable to treat the vast need of the entire Reservation.

Recent statistics state that the diabetes rate on Pine Ridge is 800% that of the National average and the life expectancy rate is 52 to 58 years old. It is said that 55% of the adults on Pine Ridge over the age of 40 have diabetes. Ms. White Eyes states that the Clinic has been unable to pay their annual propane tank rental fees of $245 (for both the Clinic and dialysis unit tanks) or for the propane to fill them.They have three tanks: a thousand gallon tank which services the main clinic and two five hundred gallon tanks servicing the dialysis unit. The minimum propane delivery from their provider, Western Cooperative (WESTCO) out of Chadron and Hay Springs, Nebraska, is $360. If all the tanks were filled, at $1.69 per gallon, it would cost well over $3,000. Further, that will need to happen more than once this winter. While the dialysis unit helps to fund at least part of its own propane use, the Clinic is out of funding now, just as winter is approaching fast.

Harvey Iron Boy, Porcupine District Vice President and Head Man, spoke of the vital role that the Clinic plays in the local district as well as the Reservation as a whole. Not only are the health care services, bi-lingual assistance, diabetic education, and dialysis treatments all meeting critical needs on the Reservation but there are more basic needs met by the Clinic as well. He pointed out that locals often come into the Clinic simply to get warm on days when they have no heat in their own homes. Ms. White Eyes has contacted various non-profits and assistance organizations but has largely gone unanswered.

Link Center Foundation, a small all-volunteer non-profit organization out of Longmont, Colorado, was contacted this week and was also unable to help. With their own heating assistance program for the elders and disabled on the Reservation struggling due to lack of donations, there simply was no funding available to help the Clinic. However, Audrey Link, Founder/President of the Link Center Foundation(, personally paid the $245 out of her own pocket for the annual tank rental fees for the Porcupine Clinic and dialysis unit on Friday. Largely retired and on limited income herself, Link stated that she couldn't go to sleep tonight if she thought the dialysis patients and Clinic were going to lose their propane tanks. At least now, if they can raise any money at all elsewhere, they can use the money for propane to fill them.

Anyone wishing to donate towards propane fuel for the Porcupine Clinic may do so directly to the propane company. Please contact: Loretta at Western Cooperative (WESTCO) 170 Bordeaux St Chadron, NE 69337-2342 Call Toll Free 800-762-9906 Credit Card and Bank Card donations by phone will be accepted. Small donations are also welcome and will accumulate until the minimum delivery has been reached and then the company will make a delivery of propane to the Clinic.Please clearly mark any donation "For Porcupine Clinic." Donations may also be sent directly to the Clinic.For more information, please contact:Porcupine ClinicStella White Eyes, Administrative Assistant P.O. Box 99 Porcupine, SD 57772 Internet Information: 605-867-5655Note: Due to lack of heat, there may or may not be anyone available to answer the phone at the Clinic at this time. Please leave a message.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is Jeff McCreight and M.I. McCreight is my great grandfather. I have many of the original books he wrote as well as other items the Indians gave him.

31/7/08 08:25  

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