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Lakota Country Job adventure on the Gunflint Trail.

May 27, 2021 03:22PM ● By Editor

Photo: Sarah Hamilton, employment provider

From Boreal Community Media - May 27, 2021

Editors' Note:  Sarah Hamilton of Trail Center Lodge on the Gunflint Trail is participating in a new program called One Spirit 18+ Employment Program with her partner Jeri Baker.  The program will bring youth from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota for jobs at Trail Center.  The Lakota Times from the Pine Ridge Reservation wrote this profile of Sarah and the One Spirit 18+ Employment Program.  We are delighted to be able to share a copy of the article below.


Lakota Country Job Adventure

By Bamm Brewer of The Lakota Times - May 27, 2021

How about a Lakota Country adventure in Cook County Minnesota with One Spirit? Here is a great opportunity that actually started last summer but is happening again this summer. As a matter of fact, the employment has already started. It’s called One Spirit 18+ Employment Program. A great idea created by One Spirit’s Jeri Baker and partner Sarah Hamilton from Minnesota. Sarah operates the Trail Center Lodge in Northern Minnesota. As for jobs which come few and far on the reservation, here is a great opportunity if those interested that are serious about wanting work. This would pretty much be the answer to jobs that also offer training. In other words, the youth could learn valuable work skills at the same time make money doing it. In some circumstances let’s say possibly a youth wouldn’t really want to work around the reservation, then here is a change in scenery. If you think this sounds good join in and you’ll be headed for Minnesota.

The situation with this program is much more in that meals are also provided along with lodging at the resort. Some have already taken up the idea and boarded the flights out of Rapid City Reginal airport. There was two last year and 4-5 this year so far. The program is for up to 20 participants. It’s another Lakota Country Adventure but over in Minnesota what a great sounding experience for our youth. To boldly go where not many have gone so to say. An opportunity that may create a life time friendship with people who care about our Lakota youth and also need the help. The area in Minnesota where the call out for help happened is in northern country a beautiful wood land summer adventure area.

One Spirit partner Sarah Hamilton who operates the Trail Center Lodge, where the work is happening, often comes to visit Pine Ridge area and she spotted a way to possibly help the oyate. Simply by finding work not only does the program provide jobs but also training. Jeri Baker director of One Spirit and Sarah Hamilton have come a long way to break the trail for the youth in this employment program. Making sure the participants are safe foremost and comfortable. It isn’t an easy thing for some of our people to leave home as we are a homeland people in which togetherness of families is a custom. Some of our people come from homes where there’s 15 family members in one house. Those situations are not always because of lack of housing but out of love for each other.

Big family customs and connections are a traditional part of our culture and the people at One Spirit have taken this into consideration. So basically, to go far away from the reservation to find work isn’t rare but will take some courage. Being on the reservation all our lives can have a culture shock once you go out in the big world. The folks at One Spirit are actually helping the youth at the airport and making everything a lot more stress free in the travel arrangements. One of the One Spirit Youth employment assistants is Star Cuny from Kyle, she meets the participants and helps them board the plane and when they get to Minnesota the One Spirit folks are there to greet them also.

Here is a short experience from a participants parent Karin Eagle taken off her Facebook she wrote “Tough morning for me… Taking my little girl to the airport so she can work and take in some classes in Minnesota. Her first time flying and I wish I was going with her. She’s going to be doing some awesome things this summer and I’m so proud of her for being so courageous to take on something like this opportunity. She will learn new things and develop that strong work ethic that is in her DNA and will come back ready to kick *** in college! It takes a strong person to leave home and tackle something so new and unknown…But she is my kid! I told her “You know what I know so I expect you to be careful and aware and not to stay silent if there is something that feels uncomfortable or unsafe to you”. she knows I made sure she knows …so I’m not scared in that regard but I’m a mother and I will worry anyways. So, here’s to seeing the results of raising an independent, strong little girl who grows up to be a stronger and more independent young women…I’ll shed some tears of joy and loneliness combined but I’ll be okay. And Maya? She’s already okay…she’s got this and I’m so incredibly proud of her!! Thank you, One Spirit, for providing this opportunity to our youth on Pine Ridge. “

This youth was one of the first participants to leave this spring and take on the challenge of this opportunity. Another participant who is also at the Trail Center Lodge is Zachary Goings. These Lakota youth are 18 years and up age groups and want an excellent adventure of a change in location. I got a chance to call Zack and asked him how he was doing and he said “I love it here and wished to stay over here, with a laugh. You could hear the happiness in his voice, good people around him. “If you want to get off the rez and explore different places such as Minnesota this is the job for you”, said Zack. So far, he’s been working as a waiter and cashier and who knows maybe he’ll work his way up to wood splitter for the Lodge. “I’ve always wanted to explore and see new places”, looks like he’s having a great time and already enjoying summer. He also said he wanted to be an example that you can go out and find opportunity and explore new woods. To be brave and go out and find work be able to save some money come home at the end of the summer would also keep some of our youth out of possible trouble. So, this adventure is worth talking about and makes this week’s Lakota Country Adventure of the week. Whoever would know there is a very special place in Minnesota with special people called Gun Flint Trail Road. Let the adventures began.

To see the original article, follow this link to The Lakota Times website.

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