Since being walled-off from the only source of economic progress, the Pine Ridge is consistently ranked the number one slum in U.S. In years it’s not number one, it’s never lower than number four.
Pictures don’t do it justice. I certainly can’t conceive of that level of poverty and am grateful that I can’t.
I won’t list the long train of abuses suffered by Native Americans. If you don’t already know, go to Google and come back when you’ve educated yourself.
Here’s the biggest problem: nobody knows the people on the Res exist. South Dakotans know, but beyond that, knowledge of it simply ends.
I propose reversing this in dramatic fashion.
“Mapvertising” is now a thing. That’s where you intentionally place a symbol or writing on the surface of the Earth that’s so large it’s visible from space. You gamble that it will generate revenue when seen on Google Earth.
That’s what you do at a nice, flat spot on the Res. You carve this single word into the ground:
Don’t get cutesy. Don’t carve a sacred symbol, because nobody knows what it means. Don’t carve great Native leaders, because nobody knows who they are.
I’m sorry, they just don’t. As I say, that’s the biggest problem.
Just write POVERTY ! in huge block letters.
When you’re done, start dumping your garbage in the period of the exclamation point. Go up there from time to time and hold huge garbage fires. The wind should be nicely out of the west, so it won’t obscure the words.
It will, however, leave a trail of smoke stretching tens of miles. I’ve seen them in my own air travel. This will look like a finger pointing to the word, POVERTY !
Google Maps doesn’t do the scale of this justice. It’s a land area about four miles long and a mile-and-a-half wide. To my knowledge, nothing on this scale has been attempted. Sheikh Hamad had his name carved into an island that he owned. It’s only three miles long and mile wide.
Unfortunatly, whomever owns that stretch near the St. Joseph’s Church is going to lose it — forever.
It will take the combined resources of everyone on the Res. I’d strongly suggest asking for help from other tribes. They’d have a legitimate stake in it. Unless you get a zark-load of help, it’s going to take a long, long time.
You need to get up there with CATs and start digging trenches a mile-and-a-half long. They need to be deep: you don’t want it washing away at the next thaw.
I suggest the area around coordinates 43.5340029,-102.7380307.
This is an artist’s conception of what it would look like at an altitude of about 34,000 feet. In the Upper Great Plains, aircraft pass directly overhead from every direction. Urbanites call it “fly-over country” for precisely this reason.
34,000 feet is the approximate cruising altitude of the hundreds of the aircraft passing directly overhead all day and all night. This would be visible to all of them on a clear day. There is no question it would be captured by Google Earth and viewed by untold millions worldwide.
From the air, this seems the optimal spot, but no doubt those on the Res have a better idea. It appears to be of the few flat areas large enough for the purpose.
A gigantic cry for help that’s visible from orbit is a desperation move that’s appropriate under the circumstances. It’s certain to attract more sustained attention than the Res has seen for generations.