Hastings, the executive director of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, has a calling to help the people of the Lakota tribe on the Cheyenne River Reservation. It is comprised of four bands of Native Americans, including the “Titunwan” – People of the Plains, the “Mnikoju” – Planters By The Water, the “Owohe Nupa” – Two Kettle, the “Itazipa Cola” – Without Bows and “Siha Sapa”, or Black Foot.It is located within Ziebach County, the poorest in the nation. To find poorer people, Hastings said, you would have to go outside the United States to a third-world country.Here, at any given time, 200 to 500 families are on a waiting list for proper housing. They have the highest child poverty rate in the nation, with many families living in overcrowded conditions, sometimes 25 to 30 people to a two-bedroom home. The unemployment rate is, on average, in the neighborhood of 85 percent on the reservation. When cold weather comes and seasonal construction jobs are gone, that rate raises even higher.
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View More images >>See next week’s Boca Beacon for part II of this story. If you want to help Lew and his family make their trip, and to help the Native Americans of the Lakota Cheyenne River Reservation, contact him at (941) 855-0522.
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