'Here Comes The Bus!'
The area is twice the size of the state of Delaware where the unemployment rate is near 80 percent and the average annual income for the roughly 16,000 residents is $3,700.
Hopefully by next year, there should be no more walking along the road from point A to point B, hitchhiking or trying to catch a ride with family or friends.
Emma Featherman-Sam, the tribes transit coordinator, says the system will provide access to jobs, and access to their medical appointments. Emma lives in Kyle but works in Pine Ridge - a 57 one-way drive from home to the workplace. “Maybe three times a week I pick up someone hitching to work.”
According to Featherman-Sam, three daily routes will initially run from Wanblee though Pine Ridge and other villages along the way and the to the tribe’s casino on the reservation’s western border. Smaller feeder routes will eventually connect with the main lines.
The project will start with 10 buses, two vans and a bus terminal in Pine Ridge. The tribe is also looking for sponsors to help cover the cost of shelters for bus stops which are $700 dollars each.
The tribe’s transit liaison, Delores Bear Killer has been getting feedback from rez residents on the proposed routes and pick-up point locations. One woman in Pine Ridge toting six bags of groceries and a pre-school grandson said she had to hitchhike to Oglala and back here to get and carry groceries.
Bear Killer emphasizes “The need for public transportation is great here!”
One of the tribal elderly ladies said this would make her more independent and she wouldn’t have to depend on “people to haul her here and there.”
But still unresolved are fare amounts that will cover operating costs. The Federal Transportation Administration awarded $2.27 million for busses and building.
The tribe is filing the paper work needed to secure about $500,000 in matching funds from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Featherman-Sam said and added “This is the piece that is taking the longest”
“Construction on the bus terminal could start this fall and the busses, which have to be ordered, could begin running early next spring. We’re hoping we can find a company that has some so we can get going soon.”
The system being set up along the main route will run Morning, midday and evening to allow people to get to appointments and return home to avoid all day waiting periods.
Eventually Featherman-Sam sees a system that will include regular trips to Rapid City to accomodate ‘rez’ residents’ for shopping trips and medical appointments.
Once the system is established, Featherman-Sam’s biggest concern will be to keep it up and running on time. “We want to be certain the people can go to a bus stop and know the bus will be here at 7:15.”
This column has been edited for length and content from the July 11th Arizona Republic’s Associated Press story, bylined Carson Walker.
INDIAN EDUCATION BENEFITS ALL MONTANANS!
Submitted by Sunshine Archambault
Billings Gazette Guest Opinion
Thursday, July 14, 2005
"Tragically, Americans know next to nothing about our country's native people. Even here in 'Indian Country,' the Rocky Mountain West, our schools neglect Indian history. Montanans, finally, are accepting the opportunity, encouraged by Title X of our 1972 state constitution to study, through our schools, the vitally important history of Native Americans.
The key words in what has become known as 'Indian Education for All' are the last two: 'for all.' Those who are not Indians need to understand the significant contributions of Indian government, art, medicine, agriculture, languages and customs to our lives.
Indian influences surround us, and, yet, we seem sightless in our recognition of them. Do we know, for example, that almost half the states in America have names derived from Indian words or that many of our most commonly used words are from Indian languages including: pecan, hickory, chipmunk, moose, raccoon and hundreds of others.
The names of the tribes whose people occupied these Western lands are also virtually unknown to most Americans: Hidatsa, Sans Arch, Atsina, Sihasapa and Siksika. They and others introduced many of our favorite foods: corn, squash, potatoes, peanuts, vanilla, pumpkins and avocados. Implements that are important here in the West, such as canoes, snowshoes and fishhooks, came from Indians. Many historians agree that lacrosse, baseball and the rubber ball were adopted from Indian games.
"Get the Story: Pat Williams:
All Montanans will benefit from Indian education
(The Billings Gazette 7/14)
Sunshine Woman Archambault
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
For news and information on Native American and First Nations actors, go to Annie's site at www.NativeCelebs.com and follow the threads.
The Conservative View by Ken Hughes: