Rez Ramblings: Living on the Pine Ridge as 21st Century “Injun”
By Leon Blunt Horn Matthews
Blunt Horn Productions | 328 pp | $18.00
Those who have visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where the unemployment rate hovers around 80 percent, understand that their visits stay with them in their minds long after they leave the reservation.
For those who stop by the Higher Ground Coffee House in Pine Ridge Village and purchase a copy of “Rez Ramblings: Living on the Pine Ridge as 21st Century “Injun”,” written by Leon Blunt Horn Matthews, will have the opportunity to relive their visits with stories in the book. Matthews owns and operates the barista with his wife, Belva.
“Rez Ramblings” is a compilation of writings by Matthews, who grew up in Denver, but moved to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation while still a teen. Some were part of newspaper columns and some from his online blogs over the course of the past four years prior to the book’s publication in November 2012. Some of the writings may make you laugh and some may make you hold a tear or two.
The great stories in “Rez Ramblings” provide a behind the scene glimpse into life on the reservation.
Matthews is a businessman, writer, former radio host and a Christian pastor. With such a cadre of talents, Matthews covers a broad number of subjects as they relate to being a contemporary Oglala Sioux, Lakota man, living in Pine Ridge. Matthews is not afraid to deal with depressing problems that plague the reservation, such as the high rates of alcoholism, suicide and unemployment.
Many of the social ills on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are the result of the mass poverty there. On the reservation, there are few retail businesses to provide options to the residents or visitors. One cannot even buy a pair of underwear on Pine Ridge. And, yes Indians do wear underwear.
Corporate America seems to have bypassed the opportunities that some 40,000 people could generate if there were proper attention paid to actually growing the economy that many people would provide if given the opportunity.
Throughout the “Rez Ramblings,” Matthews writes about the need to build commerce on the reservation. He is not afraid to discuss the “whys” that seems to have left the reservation with much of an economy.
Nor is Matthews, the Reverend Matthews, afraid to discussions of traditionalism or Christianity. Reverend Matthews argues those so called Christians who came to America to colonize this continent were not true Christians. He argues they were not truly Christ like, otherwise, they would not have done what they did to American Indians.
True to Lakota storytelling form, the stories are not presented chronologically. But, nonetheless, they all add up to a well organized volume that is presented by topics that allow for a nice flow in reading.
One of my favorite points Matthews makes in the book is he does not particularly like the term “Native Americans” when referring to American Indians. He points out the term Native American is not language used in treaties, American Indians is used all the time.
“Rez Ramblings” is hard book to put down for long. The reader will want more.
Visitors to the Higher Ground Coffee House will have the advantage to live entertainment, yet can still leave with a copy of the book.
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