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indians at Rosebud Reservation
I discovered an affinity for Native Americans and their story when I was a young boy, and it's been with me all my life. It manifests in my writing and in my art.

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Medicine Man
(Original photo by Edward S. Curtis)

For me, Native Americans are symbolically very powerful.  They symbolize natural man, humanity living in ecological balance, the original Americans, the last truly free people in America, and by historical and contemporary implication, man's inhumanity to man.

It's Hard at the Bottom

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Atsina Warriors
(Original photo by Edward S. Curtis)

It is my belief, based on science, intuition and my own personal sense of life, that we are all one. Descended from a common ancestor, dispersed by geography, distance and time, we are nevertheless a vast extended family that all too often and all too tragically fails to recognize its own. Thus man's inhumanity to man. When we judge someone as less than human or other than us, bad things happen – things like slavery, torture, war, genocide or holocausts. This family dysfunction has dogged us for all of our days, but that doesn't mean we can't change. Because something has always happened is not the same as it being inevitable or immutable. Everything that happens could have happened differently. Our future is not carved in stone. We can change the trajectory of our species. We can change our minds and thus our futures.

We can learn to love and embrace each other and see our differences as delightful and welcome but inconsequential in comparison to our natural kinship and mutual affinity. We can learn to live as the long lost siblings we truly are, brothers and sisters all.

On the Evolution of Humankind – Mitakuye Oyasin – All My Relations

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Red Hawk at an Oasis in the Badlands
(Original photo by Edward S. Curtis)

I have long found it appalling how much we do for those who have everything and how little we do for those who have nothing. Whose values are these?

If we were true to the values we expound, there would be no dire poverty in this nation. We could take care of our own if we were in the least committed to doing so. It is well within our means. Does the Donald really need another gold-plated yacht?

We coddle our billionaires and punish our poor. WTF is wrong with us? We speak way too much about our pride in being Americans and not enough about the shame of it. The pride comes from the exceptionalized version of American history, the shame comes from the truth.

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Red Cloud
(Original photo by David F. Barry)

"They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it." 

Red Cloud, Makhpiya-luta, Oglala Sioux

I'm not saying we don't have anything to be proud of, but we have much to atone for, our shameful treatment of the First Nations being chief among them (no pun intended).

We have all seen the hatred and pettiness we are capable of. It seems to get worse all the time. It's up to us to reverse this trend. It's up to us to do the right things. It's up to us to take better care of each other. Because we are all related.

Mitakuye Oyasin

There is a simple but profound Lakota prayer: Mitakuye Oyasin.

These two words mean All My Relations or We are All Related.

To pray this prayer is to petition God on behalf of everyone and everything on Earth.
Mitakuye Oyasin honors the sacredness of each person's individual spiritual path, acknowledges the sacredness of all life (human, animal, plant, etc.) and creates an energy of awareness which strengthens not only the person who prays but the entire planet.

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Since winter 2009-2010, thanks to the efforts of navajo, Native American Netroots and other Kossacks, low-income Indians at three Indian reservations have received propane and heaters to deal with the often-brutal winters of South Dakota. This is our fourth season of fund raising for this project, which literally saves lives because it catches people who fall through the cracks. Some have asked why we don't run this project through a regular charity. The reason is that our contacts on the reservations say they don't see the money when there is a middleman involved. That is why this is a unique project. You can learn more about the situation at the Rosebud Reservation, read some personal stories and see photos in Aji's post here.

Here is how you can help buy propane: The fastest way to help is to pick up the phone and call with your credit-card information. A family will get propane delivered either the same day or the next day.

ROSEBUD RESERVATION CONTACT:

Telephone St. Francis Energy Co. at:
605-747-2542
11 AM-6 PM MST EVERY DAY
Ask for Sherry or her mom Patsy, but others can help you also. Normally a minimum order is $150, but they have an account to accumulate small donations until they get enough for an full delivery. Credit cards welcome, and they are the only Indian-owned fuel company on the Rosebud. If you'd like to mail a check, make it payable to:

St. Francis Energy Co.
Attn: Sherry or Patsy
St. Francis Energy Co./Valandra's II
P.O. Box 140
St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

PLEASE NOTE:  NOT A 501c3, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR TAX PREPARER.

Of course, all the propane in the world won't do you any good without a heater. Many families don't even have working heaters—or ones that work safely. Every year, there are house fires as a result of malfunctioning heaters that people can't afford to repair. So if you're flush or you have a few friends who can put your dollars together, a heater would be really welcome this Thanksgiving season.
You can order a heater and the necessary accessories from Northern Tool HERE and have it shipped to:
Propane Heater for Rosebud reservation

Sherry Cornelius
St. Francis Energy Co.
120 N. Main Street
Saint Francis, SD 57572

Here's what you'll be sending:
• Mr. Heater Big Buddy™ Indoor/Outdoor Propane Heater—18,000 BTU, Model# MH18B
You also need to include these accessories:
• Mr. Heater AC Power Adapter for Big Buddy Heaters—6 Volt, Model# F276127
• Mr. Heater 12-Ft. Hose with Regulator for Item# 173635
• Mr. Heater Fuel Filter for Buddy™ Heaters, Model# F273699
Order Total of $235.85 (includes shipping)

INTERNATIONAL DONORS:

If you live out of the country, please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots. The donation button is in the middle right of the page. This process takes about two weeks for the funds to hit the reservation, so telephoning the propane companies directly is definitely the fastest way to help.

Photos show Rosebud Indian Reservation residents thanking Daily Kos donors for propane and heaters last winter.
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