Pine Ridge Reservation neighborhood. Native News Onine Photo
Youth Suicides Cause Oglala Tribe’s President Declares State of Emergency on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — Since December, there has been five youth suicides on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation since December. Sadly, this does not tell the full story. Tribal officials say there were many other attempted suicides.
With the high rates of suicides among the youth, earlier last week Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele declared a state of emergency on suicides on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“Suicides are so real, there is almost a count-down until the next one happens. There is almost a morbid fascination with them,” Michael Her Many Horses, 64, a tribal councilor, told Native News Online on Saturday afternoon.
Her Many Horses represents the Wounded Knee district on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservations.
“Right now we are organizing a community-wide effort to stop suicides. Two of these suicides have been in my community. They involved a twelve-year- old boy and a thirteen-year-old girl. They left no suicides notes, so we really don’t know why they happened,” Her Many Horses continued.
Her Many Horses cites poverty as a major reason for suicides on the reservation that is located in southwest South Dakota.
“Poverty is so widespread and so is joblessness,” stated Her Many Horses. “Living with poverty takes up out time here. At any given time, there are 7,500 young people without jobs on our reservation. Our kids are not prepared for the system. Some cannot get a driver’s license.”
Her Many Horses is hopeful that the community-wide effort results in a more positive outlook for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“We need to go back to our spiritual ways. So much were stripped from us. Our spirituality will allow us to lead by example. We have to show our youth there is a better way.”