Cresco Theatre to show movie on Pine Ridge Reservation

—Locals visit reservation featured in film


CRESCO - A local church and community volunteers have a long-standing connection to Pine Ridge Reservation, the Native American reservation located in South Dakota. The reservation is featured in ‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder’, presented by Roaring Fire Films. The movie shows at the Cresco Theatre & Opera House Saturday, March 11 at 2 p.m.
Pastor Karen Kayressle will visit Cresco from Pine Ridge Reservation, and give a brief talk about the movie beforehand. She will take part in the service at Immanuel Lutheran Church Sunday, March 12. Following the movie showing Saturday, a reception with cookies and coffee will take place at the church.
Tickets to the film are available either at the door at Cresco Theatre or at the Immanuel Lutheran Church. Suggested donation is $5, although higher amounts are welcome. Proceeds from the event will go toward the Lutheran Retreat Center and the new job corps at Pine Ridge reservation.
The film by Steven Lewis Simpson is adapted from the classic, best-selling Native American novel by Kent Nerburn. The film stars Dave Bald Eagle, Christopher Sweeney and Richard Ray Whitman. The story follows a white author who gets sucked into the heart of contemporary Native American life in the sparse lands of the Dakotas by a 95-year-old Lakota elder and his sidekick.
The novel, first published in 1994, is the winner of the Minnesota Book Award in 1996.
Cresco’s Immanuel Lutheran Church sponsors and numerous community volunteers travel to the Pine Ridge reservation twice per year, a tradition ongoing for about 40 years. While on site, volunteers assist locals with construction projects and other upkeep needs, and create close and long-lasting relationships. In addition, volunteers say they come away with a new appreciation for a culture that differs from their own.
Rick Nance: Poverty level 
'difficult to imagine'
Rick Nance, organist for Immanuel Lutheran Church, has participated in numerous volunteer trips.
“The late Don Davis was instrumental in getting this going,” he said of the trip’s beginnings. “The church group goes to the reservation for about five days, and we work at the retreat center there that is shared by the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.”
He said, 'We take trailers full of clothes, baby supplies, Pampers, hygienic products, soaps, shampoos, and they are gone as quickly as we can get them there. We’ll work with people repairing homes, roofs, and help fix plumbing. There is an afternoon after school program for pre-school to junior high students. We also provide an evening meal once or twice per week."
Volunteers also sponsor tuition costs for students.
“The Red Cloud School is run by the Jesuits, and had more scholarship recipients from the Gates Foundation than any other high school. They are given an outstanding education but not the money to go. It costs $100 per year for tuition, so students are sponsored by members of the church.”
The Cresco volunteers also help with repairs and jobs around the reservation. Nance recalls the reaction of one family who benefited from the volunteers’ help:
“Don, Mark Grinhaug and I built bunk beds one year. The children were so excited; it was the first bed they had ever had. They didn’t wait for us to put the mattress on the bed; they threw quilts and blankets on the plywood deck. They were so excited to have a bed; it’s a poverty level difficult to imagine.”
The struggles faced by the community hit home for Nance when he offered tools to a resident to use:
“Don and I were finishing preparing a roof on a trailer, and we told the man who lived there that we had extra rubberized screws he could use. He half-grinned and said, ‘I don’t have any tools, even a screwdriver or drill, and even if I did have them, I don’t know how use them.’”
Nance said this year, there is a job corps on the reservation.
“We can work with anyone who wants to learn basic carpentry or plumbing skills,” he said.
Nance said the volunteer trips are open to anyone, and they don’t have to be members of Immanuel Lutheran Church.
“We take crews out there in May and again in August,” he said. “We probably have eight to 12 people there each time. We pay our own expenses, and take care of gas and meals for four to five days.”
The rewards, he said, stay with him long after he returns to Cresco.
“Learning about the culture is just fabulous,” he said. “I’ve developed some good friends and we’re sponsoring students through the Red Cloud Schools.”
Mark Grinhaug: 'I received more than I gave'
Immanuel Lutheran Church member and longtime volunteer Mark Grinhaug has taken part in the volunteer trips since the 1990s.
“My first trip was in 1993-1994,” he said. “My first time out there, we put some cupboards in the fellowship hall. The residents were so grateful, and very humble people.”
He continued, “Volunteers don’t need to be members of Immanuel Lutheran Church to volunteer. We do painting and minor repair work for four-to-five days. The summer trip is more focused with a youth group, with smaller work projects, working with kids, and arts and crafts.”
Grinhaug said the next volunteer trip will take place April 18-21. A second trip will be scheduled for the summer.
“I always come back to Cresco thinking I received more than I gave,” Grinhaug said. “It’s such a rewarding trip. I’ve seen some improvements over the years, but progress has been painfully slow. It’s humbling when you come back (to Iowa) and realize how tough they have it compared to how we have it here.”
Grinhaug said he believes longstanding poverty on reservations can be traced back to re-settlement of the Native Americans:
“Initially, Native Americans were proud people and relied heavily on their independence. We as a nation took that away from them, and because of our policies, have created some of the problems they face,” he said, adding he encourages people to try to understand what they are subjected to on a daily basis.
Grinhaug said an answer to hardship manifests itself in education.
“Education is the key. There are community colleges on the reservation now,” he said, adding he knows of a young man, native to the reservation, who plans to return there as a doctor.
“People are receiving an education and returning to the reservation to try to make it better,” he said.
For more information about the film, or to inquire about volunteering at Pine Ridge Reservation, contact Immanuel Lutheran Church at: 563-547-2108.


Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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