For the past two years I have put together a project to bring items needed out to two different reservations in South Dakota. It has been an immense amount of work, especially last year. I put nine months into that endeavor and because of that I had decided that I probably wouldn't do it again. It's also hard to get financing and trucks to deliver these items that we collected.
However, I'm getting calls all the time asking when we will be doing a collection this year. When I began this I truly had no idea just how big it would get. I kept hearing how bad it was out on the reservations, how much these people needed help with, and how little they actually got. My heart said, DO SOMETHING, CLARA and so began my journey down this road of mission work. I started out making lots and lots of phone calls to people that I know, organizations and churches, and businesses. I asked the question "Can you help?" The response was overwhelming. Somehow it all came together that first year far exceeding my expectations. And lord almighty, last year was double what we did in 2010. We put together the equivalent of 4 semi loads in 2011, and all because of the generosity of our communities coming together in such a caring and giving manner.
The media helped immensely, including television coverage from KEYC in Mankato. Many, many people helped in whatever manner that they could, some offered to help load the trucks for two days, some brought food for the volunteers, others just kept coming and coming on those days with clothing, furniture, bikes and a myriad of items that would be of use to these people. And yes, there were those who negated these efforts and asked, "Do you think it'll make a difference?" There were those who chose not to help even though the need is so great and the demand so high, but that is their choice and I will not judge them. This is mine and from the response, also many other wonderful people who feel like I do.
And now I'll get to the point of this letter. I have made a decision to try once again to put on another collection for yet another reservation in South Dakota. The year 2012 is the 150th Anniversary of the Dakota War of 1862. How many of you have taken the time to read of the history of the Dakota people? How many of you know or realize that all these reservations are full of people that were banished from their homeland right here and forced to live such impoverished lives? Many of our neighbors at the Lower Sioux have relatives that live on these reservations. Many of the people that I've met throughout the two years on these reservations have shared their stories with me and it breaks your heart to hear of what they've been put through, how they've been put on reservations that have no jobs, no industry and no hope for a better life. Their despair runs deep and long.
There is no better time than now for us to step up once again and give this our very best effort to help in any way that we can during this year of the 150th Anniversary of the US-Dakota War. No, you and I didn't cause this. None of us did, not white or native. But we have a history that we must work with, try to work together and try to heal together. Our forefathers are the responsible parties involved here, but let us try to move beyond that and show our strength during this year by holding out a helping hand in any way that we can. Be good neighbors, good friends and caring communities. Learn their story. An article I recently read mentions that Minnesotans value human diversity. To thrive we must forgive each other and help the wounds of the 19th century heal.
However, I cannot do this alone. This letter is once again asking for your help in putting together the finances needed and the transportation to and from the next reservation chosen.
"Can you help?" has been my calling card for two years and now once again. Because of the many requests to do another collection in 2012 I'm willing to give it another try. But the finances must come in, the transportation must be in place and then and only then can I move forward with making plans for another September collection.
So my many friends and neighbors, can you step up and help me out? Can our organizations, people, churches and businesses step forward on this very important year and make another outstanding success for our native people? If you feel you want to help, I'll give this letter to you a three week opportunity for you to call me and offer to help with financial aid and transport. All it takes is one call from each of you and we can put in place another hand held out to a people that did nothing wrong but are being made to live as though they did. Let's show them during this anniversary year that yes, we do care, and we want to help!
Contact Clara Friese
110 West Chestnut St
Redwood Falls, Mn 56283