Trail of Hope Supporters Go Washington, D.C.
The Trail of Hope for Indian housing is literally taking current Native American living conditions to Washington to show congress and the American people first hand.
Paul Iron Cloud, Executive Officer for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Housing, says, "Today is a big – a historical – day, I would say, for us, to show congress what kind of substandard houses we live in."
On Saturday, members of the Oglala Sioux Housing Committee, concerned Americans, and a large section of a typical overcrowded house from the Pine Ridge Reservation, left for Washington D.C. to tell the Lakota story.
Iron Cloud says, "Everybody says, 'You guys are actually taking a house to Washington?' I say, 'You bet!' We're going to show congress what it's all about."
The Trail of Hope culminates with a physical display of the housing at Union Square so that congress understands what "overcrowded Indian housing" looks like on their front doorstep.
Iron Cloud says, "We just want to show the United States and the world what kind of conditions we live under."
Rick Two Dogs says, "Substandard conditions that we live under. So, I'm glad to be part of it. We made prayers for the trip, and we're going to make a prayer again that all those who are going will have protection and everything will go good."
In addition to the demonstration, visits will also be made to congressional and administrative offices. Iron Cloud continues, "We're looking to accomplish that. They're going to understand how we live, and we need more houses. The biggest thing on our reservation is housing."
Iron Cloud says, "You know, we need 4,000 homes, and we only have 1,100. We have 40,000 people! The census says we're at 18,000, which isn't true. It's very hard, and it affects the education part of life; it protects the health of our people, so I think it's a big issue that we're dealing with."
Although this is the first time the Oglala Sioux tribe has taken an actual house from the reservation, the journey to Washington is familiar. Rick Two Dogs says, "My grandfather, American Horse, back in the 1800's, made the first journey to Washington to get better conditions for the Lakota people."
But the people here are hopeful the visual helps. Trail of Hope seeks to establish new housing grant programs for America’s most needy Indian reservations.
Iron Cloud says, "You know, when you really get in action and really show the product, you usually get results. And I know there's a budget cut, but there's sixteen tribes in this region, and they are all supporting the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority for what we're doing, and our tribe too."
The house will be displayed for the public this Wednesday. The event will also include a rally, which is tentatively scheduled for midday.
For more information, visit the Trail of Hope for Indian Housing Facebook page.