Re-member is a charity that helps the Lakota people primarily by bringing them beds, skirting (to reduce heating costs), creating wheelchair ramps, outhouse installation, and minor home repairs. It costs $546 to volunteer there for a week. That pays for housing (bunkhouse with 8+ in a room), food (it's all cheap, processed food), touring the Badlands, and Pine Ridge, and lectures by Lakota people.
I was hoping for personal interaction with the Lakota, but this was not really part of it. Our days were scheduled from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. They say to slow down and listen, but there was no time. They also use "Rez time" as a one way excuse to be late (waste time), but hold you accountable if you are slow, late, or not on their schedule.
Volunteering entails a lot of not well organized work so it felt unproductive. The week I was there, we delivered about 11 beds and skirted 2 homes. A Native came looking for someone in the office because he said he'd been waiting for a bed for a year. Another told me that he's been waiting for roof repairs for 4 years.
The total income produced by the 50+ volunteers was in the neighborhood of $23,000 for the week. That doesn't seem like a great return on investment. There were so many volunteers and so little work that the volunteers were loaned out to Red Cloud Renewable Energy. We pulled weeds to get them ready for a visit by potential investors.
They ask for your money while condemning you for being privileged even though I know that some people there scraped together their pennies to be there.
The staff was brusque, bossy, and rude and treated the volunteers like children. We had to clean the bunkhouse, vehicles, kitchen, and laundry room as part of our service because, as one paid staff put it, "We'll have to do it if you don't."
The worst part was the proselytizing. If you want a healthy dose of white guilt, go here. They are liberal with it. You will know (if you are white) that you are a total piece of trash. We were even told by one speaker that Republicans can see themselves out. For the record, I am not a Republican or an Anglo, but I am a human being and I don't like seeing people treated like that.
Here I learned that there is only one race, the human race - but if you are white, you are a devil. I learned "Do not feed the animals. It only makes them dependent" while they were giving bunk beds to people who (some) didn't ask to help bring in the pieces or help with assembly.
I am happy that I came to Pine Ridge. I actually learned a lot. I dug deep and asked myself a lot of questions. I left with more than I brought, but it was hard won. Re-member's vision of the Red Road is not my vision. "Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." ~Martin Luther King. That means love for all people, not just the ones with the politics that agree with yours or those with the right skin color.