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Medicine Wheel Healing Community organizes and supports educational experiences and activities that promote the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of Native American youth to help prevent suicidal or substance abuse behaviors.

The traditional Lakota way of life is based on a deep respect for Mother Earth and the gifts she provides to make human life possible, as well as the comprehension that the interaction of all living beings on this planet has to stay in balance. In the Lakota belief everything is connected. When there is an imbalance somewhere, everything else will be affected due to this connectedness.
Looking at the multitude of severe problems that our planet and every living being on it is facing today, this Lakota belief has proven to be true over and over again.
It is time to make changes to ensure that the coming generations will be born into a world that provides the necessities for human existence: a tolerable climate, breathable air, clean water and healthy nutrition.
The Lakota people cannot turn back time to live as nomads in tune with nature again and hunt and gather to obtain food. But they can revive this spirit, traditional lore and skills. In combination with modern technology and knowledge they can achieve some level of sustainable living that will help to restore the balance of our planet.
A lot of Lakota youth are lost in a world of substance abuse, violence and despair. Medicine Wheel Healing Community strongly believes that learning and practicing sustainable living skills can help these youth to reconnect with the traditional Lakota way of life and the traditional values as a way to find the healing they need while helping to heal Mother Earth.
 
     

arrow Programs supporting healthy nutrition and living environment arrow

Nutrition is not only a vital part of physical health. A lot of studies suggest that an imbalanced diet can lead to behavioral problems.

The pediatrician Benjamin Feingold was the first person to find the link between synthetic food additives and behavior/learning problems. The principal of a High School in Wisconsin stated that after additives were removed from school lunches the high rates of school dropouts, school expulsions, drug use and suicides dropped to zero.

According to a new study by the University of Southern California, malnutrition in the first few years of life leads to antisocial and aggressive behavior throughout childhood and late adolescence.
Researchers also found that the diet of children effects brain development and can lead to problems with paying attention, thus resulting in bad school performance.

These few examples show what profound impact the dietary choices of children/youth have on their overall well-being.

Medicine Wheel Healing Community promotes healthy nutrition and the revival of traditional food harvesting and preparation with the following programs and activities:

     
arrow Eating healthy with commodities arrow

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provides a variety of food items to low-income Native Americans who live on or close to an Indian reservation. The program is officially called "Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) " and inoffically "Commodities".

Even though it seems like the BIA is striving to improve the quality of the distributed food items, still the majority of the commodities are processed foods. These foods contain unhealthy high amounts of sugar or salt, chemical food additives and partially hydrogenated oils. They do not provide all of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes the human body needs. Processed foods are not nourishment, but empty calories and a main factor for the epidemic obesity in the United States even among children. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) obesity is a major cause of death, attributable to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

However, a lot of families have to depend on these monthly food packages as a vital part of their diet.
The purpose of the MWHC program "Eating healthy with commodities" is to explain the pros and cons of commodity foods and make suggestions how to complement or prepare these foods for better nourishment.

Please go to the page "Resources" to access this information.
 
arrow Gardening Show on KILI RADIO arrow
 

Also in 2016 the gardening season started with the popular radio show about vegetable gardening, food production and sustainable living on KILI RADIO hosted by Milo Yellow Hair. It was aired every Monday morning from 8-9 am for 10 consecutive during February and March. .

 
arrow Kids learn how to make Healthy Food Choices arrow
 
Medicine Wheel Healing Community took a different approach to teach kids how to make healthy food choices. Kids of different age groups were invited to a buffet restaurant to check out the variety of foods available. When taking their pick they learned if their choice was healthy or what would have been a better alternative. The kids had obviously a lot of fun:
 
kids in restaurant
MWHC President James Robideau with young eaters
 
 
arrow Support of the Youth Garden of the Chadron Native American Center arrow
 
Greenhouse Repair
MWHC board member Tom Cook (left) is helping with the repair

In March 2012 Medicine Wheel Healing Community helped to prepare the Youth Garden of the Chadron Native American Center for this year's planting season.

The greenhouse needed some repair and a new cover.
Two fields needed to be tilled.

MWHC provided most of the workforce.

The youth garden is now ready for young gardeners who want to learn how to grow their own vegetables.

 

Covering of the greenhouse

 

Greenhouse covering
   
fields
View on tilled fields and greenhouse
   
arrow Tilling gardens for families on Pine Ridge Reservation arrow
   
Spring 2017  
   

Unfortuantely due to a lack of funds MWHC was not able to support the tilling of vegetable gardens this year.

   
Spring 2016  
   

It was another difficult year for preparing vegetable gardens. The weather was again not cooperating. MWHC was helping to till gardens in one district of Pine Ridge Reservation. Due to organizational problems we unfortunately do not have any pictures.

 
Spring 2015:  
   

Also this year Mother Nature made it difficult to prepare and start vegetable gardens on Pine Ridge Reservation. She presented us with snow storms until the midst of May, frequent torrential downpours that caused flooding in some areas and sometimes large hail. No easy task for the crews that were out there trying to till the soil.

   
This young family is happy that the weather cooperated when their patch was tilled. patch
   
kids on tractor

Kids love tractors (and lollipops).

   
Once the gardens are tilled, they are ready for vegetable plants. The seedlings are started early indoors. seedlings
   
Spring 2014:  
   

Old man winter did not want to leave. And when he finally did we kept having torrential downpours. We appreciate the moisture, since we desperately need it. However, the weather made it very difficult to get everything ready for this year’s gardening season.

   

Once again turning patches of prairie ...

Prairie
   
Field ...into future vegetable patches.
   
After the tilling is done the tractor is loaded up to be moved to the next location. Loading
   
Kid on tractor This kid is thrilled to be in the driver seat.

 

 
   
Spring 2013:  
   
Also this year Medicine Wheel Healing Community sponsored the tilling of vegetable gardens for families on Pine Ridge Reservation. The spring of 2013 was cool and wet with winter storms until the month of May and the gardening season had a late start. Here are some pictures:
   
The work crew tilled large gardens...
large gardens
   
small gardens
... and small gardens ...
   
... even in the most
difficult locations.
small gardens
 
The kids had their individual approach to the fresh plowed dirt:
   
kid 1
kid 2
 
kid 3
kids 4
   
Due to an unusual amount of rain in May and June so far, we all hope to have a good harvest. First results are already visible:
   
plants
   
Spring 2012:  
   

In 2012 Medicine Wheel Healing Community sponsored the tilling of 24 vegetable gardens for families in the White Clay District of Pine Ridge Reservation.

Here you can see the MWHC tractor in action:

Field
   
 
 
 

arrow Programs supporting or reviving Lakota traditions arrow

 
arrow Christmas Gift Drive arrwow
 
Even though Christmas is not a Native American holiday, the custom of giving and sharing with others is well rooted in the Lakota culture. Generosity is one of the Lakota values.
 
December 2016:
 
toiletries

MWHC board members were speechless with excitement when they received 6 boxes of toiletries that were collected and sent by Mae Garland, a young lady from New Trier High School in Illinois! Kudos to you, Mae, you did a great job in helping kids and their families on Pine Ridge Reservation! Also thank you to everybody who donated these items which were a part of our Christmas Gift Drive!

 

 

Due to donations from the US, France, Spain and Germany we were able to buy toilet paper, laundry soap and other household items as well as diapers and baby wipes.

 

household items

 

card

 

We could also buy gift cards from the local grocery store for Christmas dinners.

Thank you to everybody who donated money!

 

Our Christmas bags contained premium fruit, peanuts, chocolate, candy and a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss.

 
bag content
     

pine ridge

 
On December 22, 2016 MWHC board members drove approx. 150 miles through the wintry Pine Ridge Reservation to deliver Christmas bags, toiletries, household items, grocery gift cards and presents.
     
One of our destinations was Evergreen housing.  
Evergreen
 
girls  
Here we delivered Christmas bags to four little girls.
 
In Pine Ridge special needs girl Elizabeth put on her favorite red dress to receive her Christmas bag.  
Elizabeth
 
teenage girl
  The toiletries sent by Mae, the high school student from Illinois, were very popular with teenage girls.
 
Thanks again to everybody who helped to make our Christmas Drive 2016 happen!
 
December 2015:
 

This year MWHC distributed Christmas bags that were different from the ones the years before. Instead of paper bags we used muslin bags which can be reused. Beside nuts and candies we also added a toothbrush and toothpaste.
content of bags
     
kids and bags
 
The kids liked the new bags.
   
This boy came on his pony to pick up his Christmas bag.
boy on pony
 
December 2014:
 

Like in previous years, MWHC delivered bags with premium fruit, nuts and candies to families on Pine Ridge Reservation, along with presents and Christmas dinners donated by people from Europe and the US. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this happen.
Girl with bag
 
baby girl with bag
With a little help...
boy with bag
This young warrior did not want to show his face
 
boy with bag and dog
 
 
arrow Sweatlodge Ceremonies for Youth arrwow
May 2015

Spring is here and we are continuing to offer sweatlodge ceremonies for youth and their families.

The sweatlodge is covered before the ceremony with the help of the participants:

   

sweat plain
The sweatlodge is uncovered
partially
The sweatlodge is partially covered

sweatready
The sweatlodge is ready for the ceremony

 
After the ceremony people gather to share a meal. We usually offer soup, bread & butter, soft drinks and a dessert:

chili
Buffalo Chili
muffin
Apple Muffins

 
August - October 2014:
 

From August to October 2014 Medicine Wheel Healing Community was organizing sweatlodge ceremonies for youth every 2 weeks. These events also included cultural and spiritual teachings by Chief Joe American Horse and a dinner.
Youth were involved in preparing the event, like making wood for the sweatlodge fire:

 
wood cutting
 

James Robideau showing drum frame
MWHC President James Robideau is showing the frame for a hand drum

 
 
arrow Giveaway of NASCAR Fan Gear arrwow
October 2015:
   
MWHC received a big donation of brand new clothing from RUSH FENWAY RACING. For everybody who is not into NASCAR: RUSH FENWAY RACING is a racing team competing in the NASCAR race. We received hundreds of pieces of NASCAR fan gear like hats, t-shirts, hoodies and jackets. The pictures show just a part of it
  shirts
   
hats
   
sign
  MWHC took one half of it directly to families on Pine Ridge reservation and distributed the other half at the marketplace in Pine Ridge next to the shopping center.
   
MWHC board members James Robideau and Isabella Schon handed out individual bags with a variety of items.   James Robideau
 
Isabella Schon
   
The people liked it, especially after they found out that this was a giveaway.

The kids really appreciated the opportunity to get new clothes for free.

  people
   
girl
 
 
 
arrow Meat Cutting Workshop arrwow
August 2015:
 

In August MWHC sponsored a workshop where girls and young women could learn the traditional way to cut and dry meat:

 
girls
 
The participants were instructed by Loretta Cook who not only taught them the proper handling
and cutting of the buffalo meat but also the spiritual aspects of this traditional method of food preservation:

Loretta Cook

 
After the meat was cut it was put on racks to dry using a tent to prevent rain or bugs from spoiling it:
girls
 
At the end of the workshop MWHC gave a knife set to everybody who participated:
girl
   
   
arrow Mother Earth Appreciation Inipi / Blessing of the Children Ceremony arrwow
   
On September 1, 2013 MWHC invited children/youth and their families to participate in a blessing and sweat lodge ceremony. The event was held to bring awareness to the situation of Mother Earth and ask for the blessing of the children as the youngest inhabitants of our planet.
   
Loretta Cook (background center) explains the significance of the Spiritual Food (Wasna) that is used in the ceremony Loretta Cook
   

Prayer
MWHC Board Member Isabella Schon (background center) made a prayer for
Mother Earth and asked for the blessing of the children

  Prayers were made for Mother Earth and the children all over the world, espcially if their most basic needs are not met: sufficient food, drinking water, shelter, clean air, a safe environment, access to education and healthcare.
   
MWHC Board Member Chief Joe American Horse talked to the youth about the importance to continue practising Lakota traditions. Joe American Horse
   
Babe Poor Bear  

Afterwards Pte Ska Hinapa Wi Poor Bear, a teacher and grassroots activist from Pine Ridge Reservation talked about how to incorporate Lakota Beliefs and appreciation of Mother Earth into daily life.

     
A sweat lodge ceremony and dinner concluded the event    
     
     
 
arrow Kids come first arrwow
 
2017
 
June is the month when the American Horse/Afraid of Bear Sundance takes place at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. It is a time of coming together and praying for all of our relations and Mother Earth.
Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

Sundance Tree

  Many people are following this call every year - not only from the United States but from all over the world.
Medicine Wheel Healing Community supported this ceremony once again. Here you see our "Buffalo Tipi" we provided as shelter for some of the volunteers who help to make this Sundance possible.
Buffalo Tipi

This year we want to give specials thanks to all these volunteers. While the Sundancers are at the heart of the Sundance, the helpers are the ones who create and maintain the setting for this ceremony.
It starts weeks before the actual ceremony with clearing the Sundance grounds, building the arbor that will provide shade to the visitors, singers and the dancers during their breaks, building a cook shack so the cooks can prepare meals for the visitors and helpers and of course for the big feast when the ceremony is over, building the sweat lodges, making wood for the sweat lodge fires and so on. Some of these helpers do primitive camping on the Sundance grounds long before the ceremony starts and after the ceremony is over because the land that is so generoulsy provided by The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary needs to be returned to its original state.

Camping

During the Sundance ceremony more helpers are needed like the fire keepers who make sure that there are always hot rocks for the sweat lodges and the helpers who provide burning cedar for smudging.
Behind the scene there are the cooks, people who run errands or provide rides, and people that clear the Sundance circle of rocks or bone fragments from buffalo skulls that could hurt the feet of the Sundancers. These are only examples; it is not ment to be a complete list of helpers that are required for this ceremony.

Fire Pit

And last but not least there are the singers. We said earlier that the Sundancers are at the heart of the Sundance but the singers are the ones who provide the heartbeat. They work hard for long hours and are very much appreciated!
A Sundance is a community effort and the Sundance community of the American Horse/Afraid of Bear Sundance keeps delivering exceptional work year after year.  
Leaving the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary after the Sundance is always bittersweet. But Sundancing is not just a ceremony once a year, it is a way of life, and we will have a whole year to live our lives according to the teachings of the Sundance way – Mitakuye Oyasin.

Respect the sacres
 
2016
As every year, the American Horse/Afraid of Bear Sundance took place at the beautiful Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary around the time of the summer solstice.
Wild Horse Sanctuary

girl and tree

  Due to excessive heat it was a very challenging ceremony not only for the dancers, but also for everybody that supported the event. Temperatures of up to 105 °F pushed everybody to their limit..
     

On the last day of the Sundance MWHC sponsored the popular "Kiddie Line", where kids can get their meals fast without having to wait in line with everybody else. However, due to the hot temperatures the volunteer cooks decided not to start another grill but cook the kid's meals together with the ones for the adults.

  cooks
So there was only one line, but the kids managed well to get their meals.
girl and plates
When you think about the Sundance ceremony, most probably a picuture comes to your mind of a tree in the middle of an arbor that is covered with pine branches. But did you ever think about how much work goes into preparing the Sundance grounds? Approximately two weeks prior to the Sundance the work begins to build the arbor ...:

arbor

... set up the tipis, build the cook shack ...

tipi

... make plenty of wood for the sweat lodge fires etc.

wood

These are just a few examples. MWHC wants to thank everybody that helped before, during and after the ceremony. Without their help the Sundance could not have taken place and a lot of prayers would not have been made!
 
2015
 
The Sundance ist just behind the hill...
Hill
Picture courtesy of Eva Schmidt © 2015

Kids

  On the last day of the American Horse/Afraid of Bear Sundance - which takes place at the absolutely spectacular Black Hills Wildhorse Sanctuary in the sacred Paha Sapa - MWHC sponsored the popular "Kiddie Line", where kids can get their meals fast without having to wait in line with everybody else.
     
Lots of hungry kids
 

Girl with plate

 

Baby boy

 
Here is a picture of the camp where supporters and visitors are staying:
Camp
Picture courtesy of Eva Schmidt © 2015
 
2014
   

Sorry, there are no pictures of the "Kiddie Line".

But here are some other pictures of the American Horse / Afraid of Bear Sundance at the beautiful Wild Horse Sanctuary in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota:

 
Lone Horse
 

Tree

 

On the last day the weather was kind of thundery. However, the Wakinyas (Thunder Beings) did not come too close to the Sundance ground.

 

 
Nap time...  
Muede
 

Prayersticks

 

This kid snatched a lot of prayer sticks.

These sticks border the Sundance Circle and can be removed after the ceremony.

 

Also this year MWHC provided three tipis for the Sundance ceremony.

  Tipis
   
2013
   

Also this year MWHC sponsored a "Kiddie Line" at the American Horse / Afraid of Bear Sundance.

Unfortunately it was almost dark when the food was served, but we have a picture of the busy cooks that prepared the yummy dishes.

 
Cooks
     
Horses   This year 4 horses were kept in a corral next to the Sundance Circle. Their colors resembled the Four Directions.
     
MWHC Tipi at the Sundance Grounds   Tipi
     

 

2012
 

Medicine Wheel Healing Community supported the American Horse / Afraid of Bear Sundance 2012 by sponsoring a "Kiddie Line".

In the feast following the Sundance children usually have to stand in line with the adults and wait patiently until they are served.

This year the children were among the first ones being served, because they had their own "Kiddie Line".

The kids obviously had fun with it.
Click here for larger picture.

Kids
   
   
WildHorses   The Sundance takes place in the Wild Horse Sanctuary in the sacred Black Hills.
   

These Spanish Mustangs in a corral close to the Sacred Circle observed the whole Sundance Ceremony -
and not only the kids loved these beautiful animals.

The Wild Horse Sanctuary is the last resort for many wild horses that otherwise would be slaughtered.

Please support this non-profit organization if you can.

Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

Spanish Mustangs
   
   

arrow Programs supporting healthy activities for youth arrow

 
arrow Striving for Education arrwow
 
In December 2012 MWHC gave Gift Cards to ten Native American youth who just entered the Pine Ridge Job Corps south of Chadron, Nebraska (http://pineridge.jobcorps.gov/about.aspx).
The cards can be used to buy personal items at the local department store.

Some of the youth are Oglala Lakotas from Pine Ridge Reservation. Others are from different tribes of Nebraska. They will learn trade skills such as Brick Laying, Carpentry, Painting, Welding, Cement work, Maintenance. They also receive Forestry skills and help to maintain hiking trails.

There is little opportunity for youth to learn these types of skills on the reservation. GED schooling is also available to help trainees obtain their High School diploma.

The youth expressed their appreciation through letters and mentioned that they seldom experience such an act of kindness. It was a pleasure for MWHC to support these youth in striving for education and knowledge and wish them the best of success!

 
group