Davidica Little Spotted Horse is clear-eyed about the challenges that her community on the Pine Ridge Reservation faces.
“Our county is the second poorest county in the United States. We have an 80% unemployment rate here, and I can honestly tell you that if you went into any other town and 80% of people lost their jobs, it would mean chaos,” Davidica, a member of the Oglala Lakota, said. “Our reservation is something like two million acres in size, so it’s a really big reservation, but we don’t have very many resources like gas stations or stores.”
Those challenges often hit young people the hardest—the community endures a teen suicide rate a whopping four times higher than the national average. But, she says, “I totally know that our people and our kids are super resilient and smart. They have hope. We all have an amazing love for the reservation, and for our territory and for our people. Most of the kids here don’t want to leave. They want to raise their children here, because what we do have is a thriving culture, tradition, family ties, the connections that make community.”