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  • I took my family to the skate park in Pine Ridge. A place I knew of but had never went. In a town where basketball is king, the court was empty. It was more than the chill of a fall day on the Oglala Nation that kept the rim on the backboard cold. The ballers had found another escape.

    The skate park that almost didn't get built, that is really only half done is a dream already fulfilled in those that utilize it. It was empowering for me as a father of six, as a community member who cares, as a make shift photographer with more film than income to hear almost in whispers the conversation of empowerment around me. Sound bites in the wind of the greatest get away ever. How many were there to experience this healthy refuge away from a home where for all the bad reasons we know, they may not want to be home? They treated each other as family as they skate. Respectful of each other by a bond made through the board they ride. They were not shy to help each other should they fall. I had a good day among them, reminded how human beings should be.

    I seen a picture painted different than what other brush strokes have created. Too many times these youth painted invisible by the back drop of White Clay, Nebraska just two miles away. The media says misery is where the ratings are. Reporters have to feed their own families, empower their own lives. How many papers can it sell. How many pages in a magazine? The power of life nurtured by this tiny stretch of cement bowls, obstacles to overcome for the surfers of the prairie carry more insight into the real power of our community than documenting the end of the trail known world wide as White Clay. A seed is buried in this skate park, it blooms everyday beyond the lens of what any camera can see. The root of our future is not in White Clay Nebraska as too many think it to be.

    My children went to bed tired and smiling that night. Unaware of the gifts given me that day. Unaware of the shame the media should carry for choosing the value of misery over the power found by our youth. My payday at the end of this night, knowing that our skate park has just as much to offer tomorrow for those who know they can afford to dream.
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