When I created my online healing community, ceremony space I had two goals in mind: to create a sacred space for all of us to gather for the greater good of our evolution and for the greatest good of all.. and to you know, have fun in the process :) The second was to provide resources to my Pine Ridge Reservation family. You may have noticed at the bottom of my website when you sign up for ceremony space, a portion of the proceeds go to Lakota indigenous families of the Pine Ridge Reservation. I haven’t shared much about that yet so here we go.
Pine ridge is the poorest reservation in the country. Two of its counties are in the top “five poorest United States counties” overall. When I first visited I was in shock. It felt like a 3rd world country to be honest. I lived in a village in South Africa a couple years later and many parts of Pine Ridge were in worse conditions than where I lived in Africa.
Ten years ago, a friend and I went out to the reservation to research because we were focused on American Indian Studies in college and had learned about Pine Ridge. She and I visited and felt called to deepen our relationship with the Lakota people.(pictured below is me back then driving to South Dakota with a ton of school supplies filling our car with no idea how my life was about to change) She initiated this trip because of her passion for social justice + Native communities and I’m grateful because it changed my Spirit forever. After a lot of research and advocating, we secured a grant and were able to bring college students there for a few years to learn from the rich culture and complete service learning projects while strengthening our relationships with the Lakota People.
During one of the trips, we took part in a sweat lodge that changed my life. It was my very first encounter with my Ancestors and I attribute a lot of the work I do today, to the Elders who held me in ceremony during the sweat. In the sweat, my Ancestors asked the Elders to sing for them and for my healing. It was beyond powerful. I wept in this pitch black sweat lodge while being held by the song of these beautiful souls. Out of "nowhere" a Spirit full of magnificent colors showed up before me. I was of course a little freaked out, but it planted a seed within me to explore more of my lineage and intuitive gifts. You may notice the beaded necklace I wear in ceremony or the medicine bag I rattle with. It was gifted to me from an Elder that I met there and have had a continued relationship with. He’s a dear friend and mentor.
He teaches at an alternative school on the reservation and has kept me in the loop on the needs of the families there. They face poverty, hunger, extremely high suicide and crime rates and lack of many basic resources. Now they are recently facing a cold front today of -30 degree weather for a period of 10-30 days.
I talked to my dear friend this week and shared how much money I’m able to donate based on our membership here in ceremony space so far. While we may always wish the amount was higher because the needs are very high, he and I are extremely grateful for the financial resources we are able to share with the families, especially before the cold front.
I share all of this to bring awareness to Pine Ridge as some have never even heard of it. I didn't learn about it until a couple years into college even though I grew up immersed in native American culture in Wisconsin. Our country has a way of making these injustices less visible. I want Pine Ridge to be known, not to be seen as a place needing charity, but a place to be thought of when we are advocating for social justice. Pine Ridge is truly rich. Rich in spirit, beauty and culture. But I recognize the lack of resources due to major injustices and I see my privilege as a way to share more about these issues and share resources where I can.
And I share this to thank you. You are contributing to families in need by being in this community. I invite the Spirit of my Lakota Elders into our ceremonies and I hope you feel them when you take part in our ceremonies too. As we give to them, they give to us.
Each month I donate a portion of our proceeds to Pine Ridge and will always be open to additional donations if you feel called to share. You can donate to me via Venmo at April-Unterberger or PayPal at April Unterberger or Paypal. These funds will go directly to my Elder friend who brings supplies directly to the families in the form of food, space heaters, blankets etc. If you can’t donate extra funds, that’s okay. He requests prayers for the people of Pine Ridge to be of strong heart during these times️
If you have questions about any of this, please reach out or comment below. I’m always happy to share more. I'm always happy to learn more as well. There’s a ton of literature out there about Pine Ridge if you haven’t heard of it. Here is a link to learn more about the reservation too: https://www.re-member.org/pine-ridge-reservation.aspx
Do you want to join me at Ceremony Space? You can sign up here today.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for creating community with me.
With love and gratitude,