The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is an Oglala Lakota Native American reservation, located in South Dakota. It is the eighth-largest reservation in the United States. With an estimated population of approximately 40,000, Oglala County has the lowest per capita income ($8,768) in the country and ranks as the “poorest” county in the nation.
On the Pine Ridge Reservation:
- Average life expectancy is 66 years, the lowest in the U.S.
- Unemployment hovers around 90%
- High school dropout rate is over 70%
- Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S. national average
Even though the reservation is so isolated, that doesn’t stop the people of Pine Ridge from being some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Oglala Lakota Children’s Justice Center (OLCJC)
GO Campaign partners with the Oglala Lakota Children’s Justice Center (OLCJC) and Local Hero Arlana Bettelyoun (Executive Director). The center has just two staff members and a small number of volunteers who work many hours on each child’s case. This small, but mighty program supports hundreds of children in crisis each year by serving as their advocates.
- They help children (newborn-17) who have been traumatized by sexual and physical abuse, have witnessed violence, are experiencing grief and loss, or are having suicidal ideas
- They visit the children in foster care, interview parents, caseworkers and medical professionals, and make recommendations to the court regarding the welfare of the children.
- The center also provides safety, advocacy, and therapy, making sure the child and caretaker understand the Judicial System and court procedures as they navigate the system.
GO Campaign’s partnership with the OLCJC is championed by Davida Williams (Casual) and Leighton Meester (Single Parents), because of all the hard work and advocacy they do for Native American children. The Pine Ridge community is very close to Davida and Leighton’s hearts, and we are very excited to have them spearheading this campaign.
When Davida and Leighton found out that OLCJC needed funding to keep the center operational for the next two months, they knew they had to do something. In two days, a conversation between Davida and GO Campaign had bloomed into a full campaign, and shortly there after, was fully funded.
A 13-Year-Old Answers an Urgent Need
When GO Campaign heard that the center’s furnace stopped working and winter temperatures were hovering around 19 degrees, 13-year-old Grace Fohrman stepped up. In just two days she had raised over $4,500 to heat the center, allowing it to continue serving the vulnerable children of Pine Ridge.
Pine Ridge still needs your help. Local Hero Arlana has been protecting, healing and helping Lakota children living on the Pine Ridge Reservation for over 22 years. GO Campaign is proud to support Arlana as she continues to be a beacon of hope for some of America’s most vulnerable youth.