Discovery on Pine Ridge

An experience that has changed your life.

I have been traveling since I was two weeks old. Denver is where I was born, but almost immediately after my adoption, my parents brought me to my home of 17 years, Rhode Island. I have had the fortune and privilege of having parents who love to travel, and grew up with spring vacations in places like redwood forests or the Everglades. Summers found me exploring the Rio Grande and the Seine while sharpening my linguistic skills. Whether camping in the Sierra Nevadas or extracting stories from the Sioux people of South Dakota, I always discovered something about myself as well. The most significant of these discoveries came on my church’s annual mission trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which is located in two of the country’s poorest counties. I was skeptical and nervous, and my youth pastor confirmed that the trip would likely unnerve us. I wasn’t sure whether I would actually be interested or learn anything – but I soon discovered how incredibly mistaken I was.

Venturing into the penurious Native American reservation was different than any experience I have had in my life. Pine Ridge may appear to be desolate; however, the convergence of tribal artists, writers, and musicians share stories that have immense...

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