Post-Expedition Update (July1-2014): Lower Brule Sioux Reservation, SD

Sunset on Lake Sharpe

Sunset on Lake Sharpe, SD

“So, Janet, what’s your next adventure?” A popular question about which I have been asked many times. For awhile there I began to believe I could go on another expedition. I began researching the Amazon River and contacted my friends on Facebook who have paddled it already, namely Mark Kalch and West Hanson. Man oh man, what an awesome adventure THAT would be! Not only do I have an interest in South America, but to paddle the second longest river in the world??? Solo?! We are talking real-deal adventure! Too bad about the Class V+ white water on that 500-mile section…hmmm, do I REALLY want to risk my life? How could I ever pay for such a thing? How long will it take? How DO those adventurers DO it???
Back to reality. Spending 7.5 months on an expedition is costly. I am so thankful for my supporters along the way who carried me through financially, but the money hole that awaited me post-expedition was, or is, enormous. I left on my expedition with pocket change, and came home with the same.
That said, I began researching an adventure that was drifting around in the back of my mind, something I have always been interested in and have wanted to learn more about. I needed to find an adventure during which I could work and make some money. To begin my inquiry I made the initial phone call to the Lower Brule Sioux Indian Reservation School in south-central South Dakota. I wondered if they needed any teachers. This could be a cultural journey for which I could get paid while immersed in it. I had started the ball rolling, one that is currently moving right along at a pretty good clip. In fact, I will be moving to South Dakota next month to teach 6th-grade at the Lower Brule Day school. Now, ask me what my next adventure is going to be!  :)
This boat ramp was not on my map but a welcome sight since I did not have time to make it to Lower Brule this day.

Upriver from the town of Lower Brule, this boat ramp was not on my map but a welcome sight since I did not have time to make it to Lower Brule this day.

This boat ramp was so beautiful and a pleasant place to camp.

This boat ramp was so beautiful and a pleasant place to camp.

Not a whole lot to do once I set up camp at the Little Bend Boat Ramp, so I picked up trash.

Not a whole lot to do once I set up camp at the Little Bend Boat Ramp, so I picked up trash.

I had lots of company at the boat ramp camp

I had lots of company at the boat ramp camp

Busy boat ramp popular with the fishermen and families. Everyone was very friendly, that night and the next morning. The fishermen were there at the crack of dawn, as I recall.

Busy boat ramp popular with the fishermen and families. Everyone was very friendly, that night and the next morning. The fishermen were there at the crack of dawn, as I recall.

I visited Lower Brule Sioux reservation while on expedition. I landed in Chamberlain, South Dakota, on Thursday, August 9, 2013, which is downstream a few hours, below Big Bend Dam. My campsite was at the beautiful American Creek Campground located on the waterfront shore of Lake Francis Case. Jessica Giard was my river contact in Chamberlain, at that time the editor of the local town paper. We enjoyed each other’s company very much and made arrangements to drive to the Powwow at Lower Brule on Sunday, August 11, 2013.
A photo of me during expedition taken by fellow long-distance paddler David Forbes. We met at Big Bend Dam and paddled to Chamberlain together.

A photo of me during expedition taken by fellow long-distance paddler David Forbes. We met at Big Bend Dam and paddled to Chamberlain together.

David Forbes, me, and Jessica Andrews Giard enjoying dinner together at the Marina in Chamberlain, SD.

David Forbes, me, and Jessica Andrews Giard, Chamberlain River Angel, enjoying dinner together at the Marina in Chamberlain, SD.

I was intrigued with the Powwow event and the display of American Indian culture. Lower Brule reservation is located right on the shores of Lake Sharpe. I took lots of photos, met some unique and interesting individuals, and thoroughly enjoyed the regalia, dancing and music at the event, the latter of which consisted of many different drum circles. This was a highlight of my expedition.
My favorite photo of the journey, these American Indian girls smiled so big for the photo. They appear to be near the age I will be teaching this year, which is 6th grade.

My favorite photo of the journey, these American Indian girls smiled so big for the photo. They appear to be near the age I will be teaching this year, which is 6th grade.

I think this was the opening dance when all participate. Spectacular!

I think this was the opening dance when all participate. Spectacular!

The costume, drums and dance made for some spell-binding events

The regalia, drums and dance made for some spell-binding events.

One of the many drum circles competing at the Powwow

One of the many drum circles competing at the Powwow

Jessica Giard, Chamberlain river angel, asking a few questions for a write-up in the Chamberlain newspaper.

Jessica Andrews Giard, Chamberlain river angel, asking a few questions for a write-up in the Chamberlain newspaper.

I was awestruck at the traditional costumes on display this day.

I was awestruck at the traditional regalia on display this day.

Truth be known, this one melted my heart.

Truth be known, this one melted my heart.

Lower Brule is reorganizing its school system to achieve sustainable success. The Tribal Council is working with AIII (A-Triple i), the American Indian Institute for Innovation, making uplifting and relevant changes to achieve post-secondary attendance by graduating high school students who will, ultimately, return to the reservation with their education, leadership skills and innovative ideas. The schools are hoping to achieve an increase in performance standards. I believe the changes in-progress will manifest success and benefits to the Lower Brule community.
Preferring not to commute the 30 minutes to Chamberlain to live, leaving school at the bell and returning at 7:00 AM, I asked the consulting team leading the reorganization if they could find me housing on the reservation. Indeed, they DID find for me a modest inexpensive home to rent just a few blocks from the school. I felt this arrangement was important for immersion with the community and building relationships.
LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition was a life-changing journey like I never expected. After seven and one-half months living simply on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, I now know that my days will continue to be unique while trying to avoid ordinary affairs. Living life outside of the box is stimulating and rewarding. I refuse to melt into an armchair positioned in front of a television or a desk chair in front of a computer screen (well, maybe a little of the latter). Life is so short and at 57 years I can feel the pressure of time passing. So much to do and so little time!
I took this photo on glassy waters as I paddled past Lower Brule.

I took this photo on glassy waters as I paddled past Lower Brule.

A little northern squall heading right for me on Lake Sharpe near Lower Brule. After I hauled everything up out of the water and covered up with a tarp, the storm broke apart. That was good, I guess, even though I was prepared for it.

It did not take long for this northern squall to move in. Luckily it broke up over the river after I had moved my boat and gear and me away from the water.

The journey is not over until the mission bears fruit. The goals of LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition include 1) empowering youth (women and men) to confidently pursue their dreams and desires 2) conducting effective education in the natural environment, which includes bringing the Missouri River into the classroom and the classroom out to the river and 3) preparing the next generation for impactful stewardship of our nation’s waterways. Purposeful living embodies the spirit of adventure. Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Coming out from under my tarp which I used to cover me in a squall. The rain never really came as the storm broke up over the river.

Coming out from under my tarp which I used to cover myself in a squall.

Do what you love, and love what you do!
See you on the river!! syotr
Sunrise on Lake Sharpe

Sunrise on Lake Sharpe

See You On The River!

See You On The River!

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Categories: Education, Expedition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Post-Expedition Update (July1-2014): Lower Brule Sioux Reservation, SD

  1. Good luck on your new adventure with pay, I had seen this before and never commented I guess

  2. Well maybe just the fact that you were moving?

    • Hi Phil,
      Yes, I made the official announcement right after Memorial Day weekend. It was not a decision that I rushed in to, although I was leaning that direction for a very long time. Kind of like deciding to go all the way to the Gulf in one shot. Ha ha!
      Best regards, my friend.
      Janet

  3. Susie

    Wow! That’s great–best of luck in this chapter of your life! Sounds like it will be very helpful, meaningful & rewarding. Thanks for sharing with us :- )

  4. JoDean Joy

    Hi, Janet. This is JoDean Joy – the lady who made the doughnuts at West Bend State Park which is just across the river from Lower Brule. We are volunteering there again this year. Hope you can make it over some time.

    • Dear JoDean,
      Thanks so much for staying in touch! That is fantastic, and I will absolutely be over to visit. I have thought of you two on several occasions. I will have to find a convenient kayak crossing so I can visit often. I copied your cell number so no worries. See you soon!
      Warm regards,
      Janet

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