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Lakota Business Enterprises

Economic Initiatives

Support Lakota economic initiatives for self sufficiency including a Fair Market for jewelry, arts, and Women’s Sewing co-ops.

We support initiatives developed by the Lakota people by working together with them to identify needed resources and means of funding.

Some initiatives are the Women’s Sewing co-ops and Fair Market Price for Arts and Crafts.

You can help the Lakota people renew their economy and their communities. This project promotes development that brings jobs and educational opportunities to both the youth and the adult members of the tribe.

Fair Markets for Arts and Crafts

Many of the artists on the reservation produce high quality, original, creative work. They are much in need of outlets for their products that will pay them a fair price for their work. Some of our sponsors and friends work with individual artists to locate and utilize likely markets.

If you can help and would like to be involved in this project, please contact Vincent DelPizzo by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Porcupine Quillwork

Porcupine quillwork is one of the oldest forms of artwork used by the Lakota nation. Long before glass beads were brought  from the old  world, porcupine quills were used to decorate and adorn clothing, weapons utensils and jewelry.

The time consuming work includes taking the quills off the porcupine, they have to be sorted, washed and then dyed. One or both tips are removed so the hollow quills can be moistened and flattened. Then the quills  are wrapped around pieces of rawhide which is the base of earrings or bracelets.

These original works of art directly support Lakota economic development, self sufficiency and sustainability on tribal lands.

To purchase one of these beautiful designs please contact:

Singing Horse Trading Post

HC 49 Box 285
Porcupine SD 57772 
Phone:  605.455.2143 
www.singinghorse.net 

Women’s Sewing Co-Ops

Women in different areas of the reservation have formed sewing circles to both make clothes for their own families and to make quilts and other items to sell both on and off the reservation.

Click here to read more about Lakota quilt work of the Allen Elderly Sewing Club.

Okini Stories

Moving from Relative to Relative

Imagine moving from relative to relative because you have no home. Imagine your three teenage boys living in a boarding school a thousand miles away because you can't move such a large group from house to house. Imagine them coming home for Christmas in need of clothing and personal items for school and you can't afford to meet their needs. Imagine the heartache of this mother, so anxious to see her boys and so sad that she cannot possibly meet their basic needs much less provide them any Christmas.

Read more ...

How the Food Program helps

Listed below, please find comments from people on the rez who received food lately:

 

Note to our generous donors:

Thank you for your contributions and support of the food program, and thanks for your understanding that our reservation needs help. Our Lakota country can at times be chaotic, our delivery people come back with some stories, some sad, some disappointing and some kinda weird, too. Today, August 25th, was the first day that I was put in charge by our director Jeri Baker.
I too have an understanding of the greatness this program has been for our people. The delivery drivers are from the homeland here and do the best they can to make your sponsorship reach its destination. It is a rugged landscape to beat it across in one day of the month and we are trying out new ideas to make this better. There are also some wicked mean rez dogs out here that chase you once you hand the people the food as we found out today. I found out I'm not as slow as I thought I was. It's an adventure. Also the food program is getting bigger and the program is close to or better then the USDA commodity program, this is all thanks to those caring people such as you.
Today was food delivery day. It was a great day, many happy Indians!!

Bamm Brewer, Food Program manager of the Reservation

 

Happy again because of the One Spirit Food Program

9337

 

It was a tough part of the month for some families in Lakota Country but the new One Spirit food distribution can bring a warm feeling

9336

 

The end of the month in Lakota country can mean tough times but with "One Spirit" things are better

9345

 

This lady wasn't actually on the list. She was the neighbour of an applicant who was unavailable. She had a poor situation and I realized she knew we had food. It would have been tough driving away from the look she was giving us, it was a silent asking for help.

9364

 

I sat down and visited these kids and tried to encourage them to ride horses and play football for the Thorpes

9362

One Spirit Food Program

From field to homes on the reservation:

 

Field Field1 Greenhouse Corn Food for distribution
Sorting food Foodbags Ready for Delivery Customers One Spirit Crew

The photos above are showing how the food gets onto the reservation to the Lakota people. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

 

“As a diabetic the fresh food is a god-send to me. But the most wonderful sight of all was watching my grandchildren eating corn cobs looking so content and happy I wanted to say thank you to ONE Spirit for this wonderful food.”

---From a grandmother in Porcupine, SD

We think of epidemic hunger as only happening in third world countries and never in the United States. For many children, elders and families on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota:

  • hunger is a constant presence and the source of the next meal is unknown.
  • preventable illnesses become chronic and debilitating due to malnutrition.
  • With an average family income of $6000 per year, families go without food on a regular basis.

“An elderly couple called to say thanks for the food. Through tears, the woman told us that they had nothing in the house to eat until the food arrived...”

---From a ONE Spirit sponsor

ONE Spirit and the Lakota people have joined efforts to bring an end to hunger and diet related disease by providing fresh fruit, vegetables and meat to families and elders in need. Through the generosity of sponsors, the ONE Spirit food program delivers food that is both high quality and highly nutritional. During the summer months, seasonal garden produce, a rarity in most homes on the reservation, is distributed from a local farm. Freshly processed chickens and fruits and vegetables from distributors are supplied during the winter.

"The fresh produce was delicious....I have a large family to feed and they sure enjoyed the watermelon and cantaloupe. My son cooked corn with supper and the kids ate it all up. Thanks!!!"

--- From a mother who feeds a family of 8.

We have a cure for hunger

Each month, ONE Spirit arranges for food to be transported to the Pine Ridge reservation where members of the Lakota community then unload the truck, sort the food into orders and personally deliver them throughout the reservation.

The community workers typically dedicate two long days to complete deliveries, travelling hundreds of miles over unmaintained roads and even taking orders into the homes of elders and putting it away for them. The workers are paid with food and are supplied with gas for the deliveries.

Currently, more than 3,000 people are fed each month and we have more than 100 families waiting to get food through the food program. On a daily basis, we receive many urgent requests for food for elders, families and children.

 

How does the food program help?

• It brings a consistent supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats to families where it is most needed.

• It provides employment and promotes self-sufficiency.

• It allows the Lakota to take care of the needs of their people.

 

Your donations provide food for:

  1. More than 3000 people every month.
  2. The Cohen House (Senior residence)
  3. The Soup Kitchen on Rosebud Reservation
  4. The Transition housing for youth
  5. The Allen Youth Center

We are reaching out to corporations to join us in our quest to end hunger on Pine Ridge Reservation.

 

How to Participate:

• Donate a box of food. For about $65.00, you can provide an elder with two weeks of nutritious meals, or feed the average family for a week.

• Donors are also able to have contact with the family or elder who receives food because of their generosity.

• Donations can be made for any amount towards a box of food and can be made as a one-time donation, or once per month.

• Assist with food delivery costs. Deliveries cost $500.00 per month plus the repair and maintenance of the vehicles used.

 

For further information please contact Diane Capalario at 603-622-7008 or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The wood program is heating up

 

One Spirit Wood Program is Heating Up
by Bamm Brewer
 

It gets cool in the evenings and mornings and that coolness is a reminder of what lies ahead in Lakota Country. On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation the One Spirit wood cutting crews are starting with wood cutting for those elders and families with wood stoves. The wood is out there and it is a great source of heat in the extreme South Dakota winter. Many of our elders use wood stoves for heat; it is their only source of heat. The winter is very cold, however we have some time to get ready.

Loading the truck

The days are hot but the evenings are cooler as we cleaned up the chain saws and checked all of our gear. We gassed up and hooked up the wood hauling trailer. The area we are cutting had a big fire last year and there is a lot of wood out there perfectly cured out and dry. Our One Spirit crew has been cutting off and on for a week but the hot temperatures were creating some difficulties. The extreme heat here makes you want to head for the nearest swimming hole. In a way everyone was still in summer mode, however it is time to get ready for old man winter.

The chain saws fired right up but we discovered the chains were dull, so we got out our files and sharpened up everything. The wood is heavy, we cut two loads, and it kind of breaks you in the first day. The smell of the great outdoors and wood cutting is a neat memory as I have done this about all my life. It was good to be back in the woods. The cold would be tough on our elders and if we don’t build up our wood supply there will be some cold nights ahead for them. As we cut the wood into small stove size pieces I remembered about five years ago, the blizzard that hit us with three foot of snow. There was no getting out in the woods after that. If you ran out of wood you might as well start burning your furniture. It was deep and it was also a big lesson to get the wood ahead of time when there is no snow on the ground.

That is why it is so important for us to cut right now. We are in a cool down time of the year and after the snow flies it could be difficult getting to the wood cutting areas. Our difficulties have come with just keeping a crew out there. What we need is a full time crew out cutting every day but it’s difficult to keep them paid. Keeping the crew fueled up is the main problem, a task that is easily fixed with some gas funds. Sometimes we are ready to go out but no gas or oil. The wood is out there and our goal is to get as much as we can for this winter, or it could mean a cold night for an elder.

Pile of Wood

Sometimes we get an "open" winter where we can go out to the timber most of the winter. It is best not to count on it and be ready for the worst. The fact remains that our wood program is looking better than ever with the new saw and splitter sponsored by Tad and Linda King and also the big Chevy truck we are set to cut wood. Our main goal now is keeping our crew fueled up and out there cutting.

Thank You sponsors for keeping our wood program operational. We are looking forward to keeping our elders supplied with wood.

$150 provides enough wood to keep an elder warm for three weeks in really cold weather and helps the men earn money for their families.

Sponsorship FAQ

 

Questions?

ONE Spirit is a Native American service organization founded to assist and support American Indians. We are proud to think of our organization, ONE Spirit, as a group of people who exchange friendship with American Indians. At present, our focus is on the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota. We invite you to become part of ONE Spirit’s network of sponsors, partners, friends and volunteers, to dream with the Lakota people a new dream - and to help the dreams come alive!

Please continue to keep visiting our website at www.nativeprogress.org for ongoing updates about our programs! We are a very busy organization, and we invite you to join us in our mission to help the Lakota on Pine Ridge Reservation!

There are many things that set our organization apart. We are the only service organization on the Pine Ridge Reservation recognized and approved of by the Oglala Lakota Tribal Council. We are proudest of the fact that our programs are designed to foster individual connections. As much as possible, sponsors and donors give directly to the person who has asked for help. We also have ways that concerned people can support the Lakota in less direct ways. Here are some frequent questions that we get. Please let us know if you don’t find an answer to your own question here! Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

What is the Sponsorship Program?

Volunteer sponsors send gift boxes directly to a Lakota individual or family who has requested help. Sponsors are given the name, address, and phone number for the family. Gift boxes are created by the sponsor and sent directly to the family.

 

What does the gift box have to include?

The sponsor and the person being sponsored make this decision. We recommend that the gift boxes include:

  • Seasonal clothing
  • Socks and underwear (t-shirts and long underwear are important!)
  • Shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap
  • Laundry detergent (powdered is best through the mail)
  • Something personal for the recipient to simply enjoy

 

How often are boxes to be sent?

  • At least once a quarter, perhaps with change of season
  • Christmas or birthdays
  • As often as you, the sponsor, would like and can do with consistency

 

Is there a particular amount I should spend on the boxes?

No! Remember that you are responsible for shipping costs. Most of the items that we recommend are not particularly expensive. But shipping costs can add up. We recommend that you look into the flat rate boxes offered by the Post Office. They are not large, but creative packing can fit a LOT into the boxes.

 

What about sending money of gift cards to my sponsored person?

Never send money to the reservation. Theft is a huge problem, even from the mail. Gift cards are not practical because of the distance to a store that accepts them. Substance abuse is also an issue, and there is no way you can be certain who is using the card or how it is used. It is possible, if the sponsor wishes to help with electricity or propane, to do this directly through the electric company or through One Spirit for that purpose.

 

If I live outside of the United States can I still be a sponsor?

Yes, we have many overseas sponsors. Shipping is very expensive, though. We recommend that you order online from companies in the US and have the items sent directly to the sponsored person. Or, you can participate in the Food Program, providing monthly food packages for your sponsored person. If you live in France, our sister organization PRES (Pine Ridge Enfance Solidarité) will help you with the process. We refer all French citizens to PRES first. We also have a new sister organization in Germany for our German citizens that can help you with this process: One Spirit Germany

 

How are sponsors and recipients matched?

When you send your checklist (with basis contact information and interests typed in), the form is sent to one of the Area Service Coordinators. The Service Coordinator will contact you to further explain and explore what you want to do. Then you will be given the name and contact information for a family or individual. The ASC (Area Service Coordinator) will let the family know that you will be contacting them. You will then contact the family yourself to introduce yourself and see how best to help.

 

What is the End Hunger Project (Food Program)?

Once a month, One Spirit purchases large quantities of foods from commercial farmers, meat packers, or other vendors. The food is delivered directly to the door of the sponsored person. An email alert is sent to sponsors in the food program, showing the food items available for the month. The sponsor purchases the food through One Spirit, and the food is delivered to the reservation. Lakota volunteers sort the food into packages and deliver it. Food packages vary from month to month, but we try to keep the cost between $30 and $50 a month for a very large quantity of food.

Because diabetes and heart disease are so prevalent on Pine Ridge, we make sure the food includes as much fresh seasonal produce as possible, along with the leanest meats we can get.

 

What is the Wood/Heating Program?

Winter is very harsh on the Northern High Plains. There is heat assistance available through the tribe, but this is limited. People often run out long before the winter is over. Through sponsor support, One Spirit was able to purchase equipment for several Lakota men to cut and deliver loads of wood. This provides a way for them to make money to support their families, as well as emergency heat. Donors and sponsors can send money to purchase loads of wood for a specific family or for any family who needs help. One Spirit is also able to acquire electric space heaters that are UL approved. Sponsors and donors can purchase one of these heaters. It is often the only heat the family has.

 

Interpersonal Concerns

 

What if I don't like the person I'm sponsoring or can't make contact with them?

Let the ASC know Immediately so that the problem can be resolved. You can simply sponsor someone else.

 

How will the person that I'm sponsoring react to me?

Keep in mind that the Lakota are a naturally reserved people. History has taught them to treat outsiders with some lack of trust. It is also natural to be embarrassed by one’s own situation. It is not unusual for sponsors to be met with brief and stand-offish responses at first. Be patient with this. The best way is to be friendly, but businesslike. Then follow-up with your sponsorship box as soon as possible. This will go a long way toward establishing trust. If your sponsored person continues to treat you in a stand-offish manner or does not initiate any contact with you, let your ASC know. We make every effort to work things out. One of our goals is to improve intercultural exchanges.

Sponsors sometimes become discouraged because the Lakota sponsoree does not respond or acknowledge a gift. It is the most common problem and what causes sponsors to leave the program. Don’t keep this to yourself! Tell your ASC right away if your gift was unacknowledged. We need to figure out whether the item was stolen or whether the recipient simply needs to be informed about Western good manners. Sadly, those in most need are often the least able to express what we consider gratitude. You, as a sponsor, need to be prepared for this. Decide in your heart why you are offering this help, and whether you can still help even if your help is unthanked. Please KNOW that we at One Spirit will do all we can to help the Lakota recipient understand why it is important to acknowledge gifts. But because gifts are sent directly to the Lakota recipient, we don’t have any way to know that you sent it!

 

Can I visit my family on Pine Ridge?

Many sponsors have been invited to visit their family on Pine Ridge and are treated with great friendship and respect. We recommend that you not go until you are invited or until you feel sure that you are being accepted by the family as a friend. Pine Ridge has few resources for you to stay there, and it will be unlikely that you could stay with your family. But be assured that it is a great honor and joy to visit Pine Ridge

 

What about clothing drives or used clothing?

In general, we do not encourage clothing drives because delivering the items is so very difficult on Pine Ridge. Used clothing that is clean and in excellent condition can be donated through the Okini (Sharing) program.

 

What is Okini?

Okini is the Lakota word for "sharing". The Okini manager maintains a list of specific clothing or household needs for families on Pine Ridge. Donors are able to view it and send the needed items directly to the families listed (Okini List). Household items include dishes, towels, sheets, diapers, cleaning supplies, and soaps. Basic personal items are also needed (such as sanitary napkins, shampoo, toothpaste, and underwear). This is an excellent way to help whoever needs help the most, without making a commitment to a specific family for a long period of time.

 

Other Questions?

 

What about tax receipts?

We are in constant discussion with our accountant about how best to handle this. At this time, donations sent directly to the sponsored person cannot be receipted. We simply do not have a way to know who sent what to whom with our direct sponsorship. Money sent to One Spirit for any purpose is always receipted for tax purposes. This includes one-time donations, donations toward programs, purchasing food packages, purchasing heat, or any other money sent to One Spirit. You will receive a receipt at the end of our tax year.

 

Can I talk to other sponsors?

There is a One Spirit Sponsors group on yahoo.com. This is a place where we post information on projects, and where sponsors can discuss issues. We ask for people to request to join to keep out as much spam as possible. It only takes about a day to get the invitation. One Spirit is also on Facebook and Twitter. Go to the bottom of the frontpage at www.nativeprogress.org to find the link.

 

Can I make donations in any amount?

One Spirit welcomes all the help we can get! Donations of any amount for any purpose can be made through our main website at www.nativeprogress.org, by clicking on the “Donate Now” button. You can make payments through Paypal, credit card, or check. All money goes to a certified public accountant, and you can earmark what the donation is for.

 

Confidentiality

As a One Spirit sponsor or donor to Okini or the Food Program, you will be given the private information of a Lakota person. This is a real person and we require that the information be held in strictest confidence. All pictures must have permission to use. All names and contact information must be carefully respected.

 

Religion And Politics

One Spirit is neither a religious nor a political organization. It is our deep conviction that the Lakota have been done injustice in the name of religion and in the name of politics. Beacuse of that, we require that sponsors refrain from sharing their own religious and political beliefs as part of their work with One Spirit. While we welcome sponsors of all backgrounds, the Lakota have already have their own deep and rich spiritual belief system. We encourage you to find out more about this. There is much to be found out about this on the internet, and it is readily available. Religious or political proselytizing is not welcome in One Spirit.

 

What To Do Next

If you decide to join us in our work, simply print the checklist form that is also attached. Type in your contact information and interests. Then email it back to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I will send it out to an Area Service Coordinator to get you started.

Keep in contact with our programs at One Spirit. Check back frequently with the website. And read, read, read about the Lakota people and Pine Ridge Reservation! The best sponsor is an informed sponsor!

 

Thank you for your interest in the Sponsorship Program. We look forward to hearing from you!