LA PLANT, SOUTH DAKOTA, USA. Zen Peacemakers International has an ongoing goal to develop relations with and support the indigenous Lakota community of Turtle Island. Since 2015, Bearing Witness retreats and plunges have occurred annually (read here reports from previous programs) and many self-led activities were initiated by our members. In 2016 and 2017, Zen Peacemakers volunteered with Simply Smiles, a social enterprise benefitting the town of La Plant and its surrounding towns in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. This year, two ZPI members returned.
By Roshi Susan Myoyu Andersen of Great Plains Zen Center
Children from La Plant and surrounding communities of Swiftbird and Ridgeview participate each summer in the remarkable Simply Smiles Summer Camp, La Plant, SD. These vibrant Lakota children had opportunities to make crafts, play all kinds of camp games, learn how to cook with their elders, participate in the ever-present basketball, archery, soccer, frisbee golf, piggy back rides. Also traditional beading with Marcella, horseback riding at Project H3elp, swimming in the Missouri River.
Some very patient community members, some of whom are nationally ranked horseshoe players, tried to teach us how to throw horseshoes, Marcella continues to share fresh veggies and a love of growing your own food with the community. We enjoyed hearing stories and sharing food with community members at town wide dinners.
Simply Smiles, partnering with many organizations and individuals including Peter Yarrow and Tiokasin Ghosthorse, works in many ways to help the Lakota community realize its vision and boundless potential. This month, a group of talented Lakota youth are interning with the Montana Conservation Corps as part of Native Youth Expedition and others just returned from a weeklong writing program in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Consider getting involved. Donate to Simply Smiles or volunteer for a week at the Cheyenne River Reservation camp in La Plant or at the Children’s Home in Oaxaca, Mexico. http://www.simplysmiles.org/