After a day of travelling through three states, starting in Boulder and ending in Pine Ridge, SD we made it to our destination late last night. We arrived tired and perhaps a bit uneasy, as we were all unsure as to what we were about to experience here on Pine Ridge Reservation. Upon walking into the Hand household however, any of the anxiety about the coming week we were experiencing was quickly put to ease. We immediately found ourselves being welcomed into a warm and comfortable home. This being my second trip and Mike’s first we agreed that the home of Floyd and Natalie Hand is welcoming regardless of whether or not you had been here before.
Sunday, today we jumped right into service and built Natalie a new fence for her garden. After we had prepared a space for food to be grown in a place where fresh vegetables are a prized asset, we unloaded Conscious Alliance’s food truck http://www.consciousalliance.org/ stacking the Hand’s food pantry with necessary canned goods. This food will be used to help alleviate the starvation and malnutrition that is experienced by people living here on the Reservation.
Floyd provided us with much thought over our lunch, sharing the perspective which he has gained through his unique life experience of growing up in the United States as a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. From the little time we have spent with him today, it seems that the insights which he is going to provide us with, are likely to be some of the greatest lessons to be learned from this trip. As both a student of psychology as well as social work, we expect these interactions with Floyd to be a great source of growth in coming to see how one’s culture and social environment shape and form who they are. As we are thrown into working with the community of Pine Ridge throughout the coming week we look forward to drawing connections with this deeply spiritual place and the more “left brain”, as Floyd would put it, academia that brought us here.
-Mike Flynn ’14, and Trey Jones ’13