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A Pine Ridge Christmas

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.reznetnews.org/article/feature-article/pine-ridge-christmas A Pine Ridge Christmas KYLE, S.D. — Twas the week before Christmas, when all through
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 26, 1941

      A Pine Ridge Christmas

      KYLE, S.D. — 'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the Pine
      Ridge Reservation ...

      .. Yellow school buses made a snowy, icy trip to Piya Wiconi, the administrative offices of Oglala Lakota College, near Kyle. Their mission: bring children enroll
      ed in Head Start to Piya Wiconi to meet the man of the season, Santa Claus.

      Santa had a huge sack of wrapped gifts. As the children entered the round
      conference room, their eyes immediately focused and fixed on Santa. They
      filed up to him one by one. Greetings were given and received.

      Members of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe [1] of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., were the
      financial backers of Santa's generosity through its 10-year-old Angel Tree
      program, a yearly outreach program to give Christmas presents to Pine Ridge
      residents. It is administered by the Saginaw Chippewa's Andahwod Continuing
      Care Community & Aging Services department.

      Louanne Bruner, a Chippewa who works for the Andahwod department,
      coordinates the gift-giving. She said that while Angel Tree's first eight
      years were successful, the organization and delivery of gifts lacked
      strength. For the past two years, the program has dealt strictly with the
      Head Start program, she said.

      "The organization that we have encountered from the staff of Head Start has
      been really great," Bruner said.

      Needs and wants sheets are sent to children with instructions to list three
      things that they need and two things that they want, Bruner said. That
      happens in about October when the Chippewa tribal council reviews the
      program and gives authority to continue it.

      "Tribal families look forward to this every year," Bruner said.

      This year Chippewa families raised more than $4,000 for the Angel Tree
      Program, according to Bruner. She said she is proud that nearly 500 Pine
      Ridge children got gifts this year and that every child received every item
      listed on the needs and wants list. This was 100 more children who were in
      the gift program last year.

      The most popular items asked for were clothes, basketball goals, bikes, toy
      cars, Dora the Explorer dolls, skates and sleds. Four tribal employees and
      five volunteers transported the toys from Michigan.

      Bruner said that some of their tribal families go the extra mile and send
      an envelope to their child's family, realizing that other children and
      other needs need to be met.

      To her, the best part of the program is to see how much the children look
      forward to seeing Santa, Bruner said. The 2- and 3-year-olds seem to draw a
      line on how close to get to him, she said, but the 4- and 5-year-olds hug
      and squeeze Santa.

      One happy child was Destiny High Hawk as she rode her new bicycle around
      the Piya Wiconi conference room. Asked what she was going to do with her
      gift, she said with a grin, "Take it home and ride in the
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