CASA Project "Stop Horsin' Around Help Stop Child Abuse "
Greetings from Black Pinto Horse Fine Arts,
The Black Hills of South Dakota are extremely beautiful along with the wild life that surrounds us. Wild turkeys with their feathers fanned, deer and elk grazing the grasses, the Western Swallow Tail fluttering through the thickets and the Meadow Lark's tune that awakens us and sings of the new day. Nature brings us solitude and peace amidst our busy schedule of school visits, presentations and painting of the horses.
Many events have taken place since our arrival on April 28, 2007. They have been such wonderful learning opportunities; experiences that enlighten, inspire and inevitably foster growth. I would like to share just a few of these blessings with you.
Opening Ceremony, April 28, 2007
During the opening event on Saturday, April 28, 2007 a young lady and her mother were visiting with Black Pinto Horse, in which the artist told them, if she came back to visit, he would ask her to put her hand print on the colt. In a few days, mother and daughter had returned and both watched with anticipation as the artist worked. While they visited, Black Pinto Horse asked her to come back on Saturday and on Saturday she, along with her mother, sisters and grandmother came to witness this exciting event. The young lady, a fifth grade student, came in the painting circle and watched as the artist mixed oil paints together creating the color of spring grass. She placed her hand in the paint and then transferred it to the colt- when she pulled her hand off of the fiberglass statue, a smile grew on her face the length of the Missouri River and her eyes shined like the sun just rising over the horizon- a blessing in which her family, Mall goers and Black Pinto Horse Fine Arts were fortunate to witness. An experience such as this, touches your heart and leaves an imprint, such as the one she proudly made. Later, in talking with her grandmother, we learned every morning before this one, she would get up and ask her family what day it was- she had been anticipating this moment since their initial conversation. Tyresha Riqelmy Yankton vowed by placing her hand on the colt that in the future, she would do one thing to make a differance in the life of someone else. She put her mark on not only a colt, but a project that will help future children- she is a leader of her people and one whom needs to be recognized as an intregal part of 'Stop Horsin' Around, Help Stop Child Abuse'.
Another important leader whom deserves great recognition and honor for her countless efforts, her insight and her years of wisdom and knowledge is Judge Janine Kerns. Tuesday, May 8, 2007 we were invited to be a part of the Board Meeting with United Way in which CASA was looking to increase their budget to provide services for a growing number of abused and neglected children; funding which is vital to the efforts of the employees of CASA along with their daily mission. Judge Kern began by visually allowing us to take a small peak into the key hole that she looks into every day- the stories brought tears to some eyes, anger and astonishment to others.
The children are anonymous, but the tragedies of abuse they face daily is real; some even unbelievable. A child whom is four years of age will be kicked out on the streets by his intoxicated mother and forced to be an adult. Children whom have never seen a child hood because they have been the parents of their siblings. Children who have gone through an exceeding amount of pain and terror, pain that most cannot even phathom; their happiness taken, their innocence never to be given back, and their spirits manipulated, torn down and crushed. Currently there are about 537 cases of abused and neglected children as of January. 247 of these cases do not even have a CASA volunteer; 247 cases(there may be several children in one case) not having a voice in court. Violated, made to feel like they don't have a future and hopeless because no one will speak up for them. Judge Kern was adimate about her plea to the United Way, 'We are in a time of crisis. Each year the numbers are increasingly growing and we have 247 cases that don't have representation now'. A new urgency to educate and assist the community is now. The lives of these children are at risk and we as United States citezens need to be aware of what's going on and take action.
Some Special Visitors
There are many facets of the problem of growing accounts of abuse and neglect and how to solve them, for example, a mother who is addicted to drugs needs to be first cured of her addiction before she can learn how to best take of her children. Once and if healed of this disease, the parents need to be educated on parenting skills.
Monte was asked to deliver insight that would shed light on the native american perspective, as well as a course of action. 'Over the years of experience working with the Native/Nonnative communities, educational systems-children from a variety of ethic backgrounds throughout the country, I feel that we need to get back to the basics of family structure within this country.' There has been a growing void within the Native communities, the onset of colonization to indigenous tribes. This process is fracturing the structure of family, parenting, community and identity. This void, in my opinion has been the gap we need to fill to develop a coexisting relationship with Native/Nonnative communities. Reinstituting traditional family structures within our communities and country and providing a pathway for future generations to coexist should be our direction.
Black Pinto Horse Fine Arts was hosted by South West Middle School to present 'The Partnership' their educational component. We introduced the Stop Horsin' Around project and gave the sixth grade students an idea the work and painting that has taken place thus far. They are finishing a unit on shields and requested that we provide the Winter count workshop to expand on their prior knowledge. Around 60 sixth grade students were Keepers of their Winter count, documenting past monumental events using pictures or symbols- the events most remembered in the past school year. Students were randomly chosen to share their winter counts, some of which were funny, sad or very serious. One young man remembered the first day of school when he couldn't get his lock to open, another remembered when they first moved into the community and had to face a classroom of new students.
As educators and philanthropists it is always interesting to hear what is most important to a child. When visiting Ms. Hurley, an art teacher at Knollwood Elementary we listened to what her children thought some of the most important things were....having a mommy, heat, love, water and a home, just to name a few. As we grow up we sometimes take the most important and beautiful things for granted.
More important leaders to be recognized
With a project as successful as this, you know that there are many people working behind the scenes in a collaborative effort to ensure its flight. Jim Gray was one of these individuals. Jim is Superintendent for Montana Dakota Utilities; MDU is the proud sponsor for Courage and Hope. He is also on the Board of Directors for CASA. Jim was chosen by the artist to apply his hand print to Courage as he has played an intracle role in the project; a fraternal figure, role-model and today's warrior for these children. Sheila Troxel Snyder is anothre indvidual whose role is crucial to the safety and success of these children. Sheila is the Director of CASA and has led the Stop Horsin Around project with excitement, enthusiasm and dedication; because of her efforts and energy, her hand print is opposite Jim's- two very strong leaders within the community working towards the same goal. Two sixth graders that must be acknowledged are Tyresha and Hannah. They represent both the native and non- native perspectives on the colt, Hope. Hannah chose the color orange for her hand becasue she wants to make people happy. Tyresha chose green because she wants to grow. Both handprints have white flowers at the ends of each finger- tip, representing the energy of life these young ladies have- they are both blossoming into beautiful and extremely bright young ladies whom have promised to make a change in the world.
During the closing ceremony Black Pinto Horse revealed the name of his creations,
"Bless the Beast and the Children, Courage and Hope".
Rapid City SD, May 19, 2007- Closing Ceremony
The days events began with a crowd of people gathering around two brightly colored horses whom gained their popularity of both children and adults alike- one could always be sure to hear in high energetic gasps from a tiny voice, "A horsey, look at the horsey!" All but a second after, a little tyke could be seen trying to squeeze his or her way through the fence to take a closer look or simply staring up in astonishment. It was quite the treat for the two artists whom although diligently kept to the task before them, always had time to visit with the fans of these almost "super hero" Holy Dogs.
In the Arikara language there is no specific word for horse, thus the combination of the words Holy or sacred and dog make up the word for Horse (Holy Dog). The symbolism, colors and representational elements of Courage and Hope are combined to send a spiritual message. The two horses were given their name at this event, as the artist had prayed on these things; "Bless the Beasts and the Children, Courage and Hope".
It is important as First Nation tradition to begin and end things in prayer; to remember Creator and give thanks for the many blessings. Black Pinto Horse was the M.C of the event and began by introducing elder, Gerald Yellow Hawk whom said a blessing. His deep, beautiful voice rose out of the noise of shoppers and music playing above, as he sang a prayer to acknowledge God and the many blessings Creator has given to the people of all nations.
Jingle...jingle..., the hoop dancers were getting ready for their performance. Beaded barrettes in their hair, moccasins and fringes and jingles hanging from their dresses- their humble dispositions and look of concentration...laying hoops on the ground..one..two...and more....at least twenty. The excitement in the audience drew as many had not seen hoop dancers before. The drum group began beating the drum, synchronized beats...song ringing from the mens' voices. Jasmine and her two sisters began dancing in rhythm to the heartbeat of the first nation people. As they danced they picked up hoops- the hoop has no beginning or end; it represents the continuity of the spirits of all living things...they made patterns and beautiful three- dimensional arrangements with the hoops in the air and on the ground...wonderful to experience.
Before the event was brought to a close, anticipation had grown as the works were not yet interpreted. As Black Pinto Horse acknowledged each object, symbol and color a major theme rang through the air, "Children are sacred, "Bless the Beasts and Children, Courage and Hope".
-Emily Yellow Bird