See How Skateboarding Is Changing Native American Youth Culture
To the outside world, South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Lakota people, is known as one of the most impoverished areas in the U.S. Historically, in 1890, it was the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre. In recent years, its population—up to 40,000, by some estimates—has faced a variety of problems, including a high youth suicide rate, drug and alcohol issues, vandalism, gang activity and high unemployment.
Over the past five years, a non-profit organization called the Stronghold Society has been working to make reservations like Pine Ridge a better place for future generations, through skateboarding. “Everything we do is to inspire [the youth] through skateboarding, music and the arts,” says Executive Director Walt Pourier. “It’s creative expressive means to help them get a voice and to be heard within these creative realms.”