South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Indian Reservation is in one of the poorest regions of the United States. Where youth suicide is three times the national average and the school dropout rate is 50 percent. Alcohol-related deaths are 17 times higher than the national average and almost half of all youth have obesity-related health issues. Few jobs are available in the area and children travel great distances to attend school and to receive health care.
Tribal Chairman Joe Brings Plenty grew up here. This is where he’ll stay to improve the lives of those around him. Joe Brings Plenty is a former ChildFund sponsored child. Sponsorship, he says, showed him the possibilities and today he is a leading advocate for ChildFund’s new programs at the Cheyenne River Reservation.
“I want the youth today to have the experiences that I had,” he said. He shows visitors a photo of himself wearing a red sweater taken during his choir visit to a local prison. As a choir performer, he was instructed to wear “something nice.” The red sweater, a gift from his ChildFund sponsor, was the only nice thing he owned. It was also the only Christmas gift he received that year.
Chairman Joe was touched by what the sweater represented to him as a child growing up on a reservation. The sweater showed him that people cared about Indian issues and that they shared the same values of compassion and generosity.
In partnership with the Western South Dakota Community Action Agency and the Boys and Girls Club, ChildFund’s Cheyenne River Indian Reservation programs focus on early childhood development, health promotion, reading readiness, life skills and youth leadership.
Chairman Joe Brings Plenty is a leadership representative and a role model whose own personal success, thanks to people like you, illustrates the result of diligence, hard work and a positive attitude.