Ramp helps elders access culture and history

150-year-old dream of a Lakota Chief will continue

It looks just like any other wheelchair ramp. But this ramp is special. It opens the door to thousands of years of history and culture of the Lakota Indians in South Dakota and fulfills a long ago dream of one of their leaders.

Nearly 150 years ago, Chief Big Foot traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Chester Alan Arthur to discuss, among other things, the establishment of a school for the Lakota children to learn the long and rich history and ways of the Lakota culture.

The Lakota have a beautiful, spiritual-based language that is disappearing slowly as their elders pass to the next life. The younger generations are curious and eager to learn more about their culture and history, but this transition has been difficult. No school on this or any of the six reservations has been able to produce a fluent speaker. The Lakota Village Immersion School was created to use the Lakota language as a tool, rather than an object, to produce fluent speakers and future leaders who will become knowledgeable in both the Lakota language and culture and the world. With a better understanding of their own identity, the losses through assimilation will be stabilized. Revitalization of their culture, and language as taught by their elders of what is important and necessary to live a quality life in two worlds.
 
Big Foot’s dream became a reality through the extraordinary efforts of Kathleen Price and her Youngstown, Ohio-based Mission of Love and John Wright, owner of an American Ramp Systems franchise in nearby Cleveland.

The Mission of Love volunteers worked to build the school earlier this year. The elders are the Lakota language language-speaking teachers who will be instructing the children. The elders are eager to pass their knowledge on, but are frail and weakened by age. It is difficult for them to climb even the few steps to the classrooms.

John Wright was able to offer an effective solution to help the Lakota elders with accessibility to the school by installing a modular ramp. The ramp was donated by a daughter whose parents originally used the ramp. Since her parents’ passing, their daughter wanted to donate the ramp to a needy cause. John knew right away that Kathy Price would put the ramp to good use.

While each of his ramp installations has increased someone’s quality of life, this is the first time one of John’s American Ramps will help to fulfill the 150-year-old dream of a Lakota Chief to continue the tradition of “Lakota Thinking.”

Today in 2008, the Lakota Village Circle is completing Chief Big Foot’s dream. end of story

-American Ramp Systems, Inc. is a national manufacturer of modular accessibility ramps based in South Boston, MA, with 38 franchise operations across the country. For more information, please call 800-649-5215 or visit www.americanramp.com