A Heartbreaking Report
The Episcopal News Service is carrying a report from the Diocese of South Dakota and the challenges faced in ministry there: Diocese of South Dakota tries to offer hope to people who feel hopeless, hungry, forgotten. The article says in part,
Unemployment is about 85 percent in Buffalo County.The full article is online here: Weaving a web of relationships, rebuilding the body. Pray for our sisters and brother in Christ in the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota.
Suicide rates in the area are seven times the national average. Diabetes is a leading cause of death. Cancer rates are increasing dramatically on both reservations, while drug use and drug selling, and alcohol abuse is rampant. HIV/AIDS is present but rarely talked about, behavioral health specialists say.
Casinos, once seen as a way to lift Indians out of poverty by bringing tourists and their money to the reservations, are not helping on the Crow Creek Reservation, residents say. Those who are employed often cash their paychecks at the Lode Star Casino in Fort Thompson, dreaming of doubling their money.
"People are selling everything they may have to go gamble," said Tolly Estes, a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Fort Thompson on Crow Creek and the son and grandson of Episcopal priests who served on the reservation. "The casinos have done more harm than good."
Episcopalians and federal officials on the Crow Creek Reservation say they struggle to help residents meet basic needs such as food, shelter, heat and electricity. They have difficulty helping people find the money to bury their family members, they said.
"Right now we're just trying to keep people alive . . .right now we're just trying to get people food," Estes said as he sat with Anderson, Robertson, Tinsley-Roe and others in the nave of Christ Episcopal Church. Estes told of cars following relief agency food trucks in hopes of being first in line and of a youngster at school trying to put mashed potatoes, gravy and corn in his pockets so that he could take food home to his younger brothers and sisters.
"This is the scariest I've ever seen it," Estes said.
Labels: Episcopal Churches