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2015-08-06 / Voices

A Note From The Editor’s Desk

BRANDON ECOFFEY
Oglala Lakota Times Editor

In my last column I talked about the Toby Eagle Bull Classic skateboarding competition and how beautiful of an event it is. This year was no different as hundreds of youth from all across the reservation descended upon the Toby Eagle Bull Memorial Wounded Knee Four Directions Skate Park last Friday in Pine Ridge. Although, I have enjoyed helping my family put on the competition each year, this year, I came to the realization that there is a skateboarding movement taking hold on the reservation thanks in large part to community members taking action.

With the addition of a newly constructed skate park in Manderson, Walt Pourier and James Murphy, of the Stronghold Society have teamed with families like the Eagle Bulls to create a space for our youth to enjoy something other communities take for granted, and that is simply a place to play. Not only have these community members gathered the resources to construct the actual parks but they have also invested their time and energy in gifting boards and other necessities to kids wanting to learn the sport.

As a result of these efforts hundreds of kids across the reservation have now gained access to an activity that requires very little supervision or financial investment. For some this opportunity will give them an escape from abusive homes, crime, and hopefully an alternative to suicide.

The notion of taking cement and constructing it in a way so that youth can use it seems so simple, yet, ideas like this that benefi t so many of our youth have been pushed to the back burner in the past. Times seem to be changing however as others living on the reservation are acting and creating these spaces for our youth. Ted Pedregon along with the help of others in Pine Ridge joined together to create a new youth baseball park in Pine Ridge that they dedicated to the late G. Wayne Tapio and Bogey Carlow.

For many youth on the reservation the simple reality that spaces like this are lacking is a sad truth with very real and deliberate conse- quences. With the high rates of sexual abuse, alcoholism, and suicide simply providing young people with a place to go and escape is a must.

These commendable actions by community members are only the beginning. Recently I came across the 3-D blueprints created by David Giago, a former Red Cloud Student and recent graduate of South Dakota State University, that detail his dream of building a multi-million dollar sports academy for our young people that would bring state of the art technology and training to their doorsteps.

There are real issues facing our communities but the reality is that despite what the rest of the world is led to believe our fellow citizens are stepping up and giving our youth new opportunities to succeed in new spaces. If you have not had the opportunity to attend a local poetry slam where our young people are freed from society’s filters and allowed to vent through their art, you will be amazed by their talent and understanding of themselves as both spiritual and political beings. Those who have worked to ensure that this space exists in their life deserve credit.

To those of you who have taken the time to give of yourself to help the youth, thank you.

*Brandon Ecoffey is the current editor of LCT and an award winning journalist from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

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