Written by Robert White Mountain History
In October of 2000 through traditional Lakota ceremonies, the H.O.M.E. Team was born. H.O.M.E. is the acronyms for Honor Our Mother Earth. In November of 2007 through another traditional ceremony, the H.O.M.E. Team was officially established. The headquarters was first established in the Bear Soldier community and is currently located in the Running Antelope community aka Little Eagle, SD on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation and was founded by Robert White Mountain Sr. To date the H.O.M.E. Team has Alliances Aka Chapters on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservations, San Francisco, Ca., New York City, NY, Stuart, Fl., Missoula, Mt., Salina, Kansas and Black Rock City, Nev. with the goal of having Alliances throughout all the states and in every country in the world.
The idea of the H.O.M.E. team didn’t come easy and it didn’t just show up in my brain. No, rather it only came after I was in the right place to receive it and had the determination to see it thru. The following is a little about how this happened.
In the harsh winter of 1996 the suicide spirit blew into my hometown of Bear Soldier when one of my 16 yr old nephews hung himself from the basement steps of his family home and a short time later on his birthday, his 16 yr old cousin who was also his best friend took himself out from the same steps, in the same manner and then a rash of suicides of epidemic proportions began and we lost so many children that year and in the following years.
My response to this situation was to try to help in any way I could and I was but I was still using alcohol and that kept me away from ceremony. Until one day on Jan 3, of 2000 my 16 yr old son and I shared a coke and some chips and a short intimate moment and we were able to look into each other’s eyes and tell each other that we loved each other and gave each other a big hug, then he went on his way. Little did I know that he had other things on his mind and it would be the last time I would talk to him because only an hour later he said goodbye in his own way. When I saw him hanging, it felt like the entire world came crashing down on me, my life fell apart.
With this happening I had reached another bottom in my life and my options were to either drink and drug myself to death or try to do something. At the time, I wasn’t drinking that much but I knew if I took the bottle route, I would soon die on the streets and that wouldn’t do anyone any good especially my son, so I called my big bro Sam and he came to help me bury my son in the right way. While my son lay in his casket I told him that I was not going let him die in vain and that I didn’t know what but I was going to do something. Since I had asked my big bro for help, he asked me what I wanted to do and I told him I want to do something but I didn’t know what. He said I needed to get back to ceremony and I told him that I would like to but I have been drinking and he said the ceremony is for ones who are having a hard time too. He said if I wanted to do anything at all, first I must go to battle with and beat my greatest enemy, the one that makes me drink and get into all sorts of trouble and that enemy is myself.
After we buried my son, my other sons told me that they also had attempted suicide but their friends were able to save them. That hit me hard and humbled me to the core and I took it all to ceremony with my big bro and went to war with my worst enemy. When we were finished and I was still alive and had worked through it and was feeling so much better, then I found the spirit could use me as a worker. My first job as a worker was my sons and together we left Standing Rock and we thought it was for good. We made art and sold them at powwows and festivals all over the us and a little of Canada in the effort to get to know my sons and throughout the journey we made many allies and did some awesome projects and ceremonies together.
While getting to know my sons, I was also able to see most of the lower 48 and learned a little about the current status of Mother Earth here. You know, when I was a kid, you could drink the water and eat the fish from the river I lived by but not today as even the fish that survived are not fit to eat anymore and I found this was the case with all the rivers and lakes we visited. The cities we visited had so much smog that it was hard to breath so we didn’t spend much time in them. Some cities were clean and others were a mess and full of trash and had so many homeless people. In some places we saw different kinds of huge mine pits continually raping Mother Earth and going against ancient instructions by taking soil out of the ground. We went by areas where fracking is being done and found that they use millions of gallons of fresh good water to extract the oil and this water is poison forever afterwards. There isn’t an endless supply of good drinking water and we are running out of good fresh drinking water sources.
We traveled by many missile silos and saw war ships off both coasts and went by many military forts and of course the news lets us all know of the wars that are raging around the globe and all this showed me how twisted the element of fire has become. So many lives and entities dependent on fossil fuels to survive, it was mind boggling and of grave concern to me and my first prayer is that people will re-learn to honor Mother Earth.
Another early H.O.M.E. Team project had to do with the spirit and the people and began when we were in California and heard on the national news in Dec of 2004 that my hometown of Bear Soldier was declared the suicide capital of the us and second in the world to Japan. We never wanted to return to Standing Rock but when we heard this we knew we had to come home. By the end of January of 2005 we had saved enough money and bought a house in the middle of the suicide capital. On June 21 of 2005 after ceremony we used gossip and told the entire community that we were going to make music and showcase to the world what is happening here, in the hopes that it would get to the most at risk people and give them a little hope. Well..it worked! We went from the suicide capital of the us, second in the world to Japan to zero and enjoyed this till May of 2009.
In 2008 we were instructed through ceremony to show by example how people living in poverty can grow lots of healthy, organic food. We planted gardens around the entire H.O.M.E. Team building including the two lots it sits on and the lawns. That summer our community experienced at least four major hail storms and the neighbors on all sides of us had their gardens destroyed and had to replant four times. Throughout all the storms we lost two plants illustrating the connection needed between man and creation to generate enough food for all. The loss of the two plants helped us see that we must not have any doubt when it comes to spiritual instructions given through ceremony. It was awesome to see the garden beds full of baseball size hail and yet all the plants were still standing and of course the plants were happy with the moisture from the hail. We had a bountiful harvest and gave it all away to the community in the effort to promote the awareness of good healthy food from our precious Mother Earth.
Life was finally getting back on track and after almost four years of enjoying the peace of no suicides, in the last part of April and the beginning of May of 2009 the community was hit with 24 suicides in 21 days. A 16 year old girl was hanging all day in one of the old garages in my backyard until some kids found her and told me. That rocked my world again and I had to do something so first I cried my head off and took it to ceremony for instructions. The next day I called the United Nations, UN and gave them my credentials and made the trip to New York and was given the honor of closing that years UN session, then I went on to Wash. DC and lobbied for almost two weeks and talked to as many congressmen or staffers as I could. Wish I had the chance to visit with the Commander in Chief, Mr. Barrack Obama but he was in Egypt.
Upon return, through ceremony Robert was instructed to take the gardens to the community in the effort of getting the peoples’ hands into the dirt and help them begin a dialog with our Mother Earth. We began with the gardens we had and we also planted a garden at Robert’s mother Josephine and a friend’s backyard in the Bear Soldier South community and we had many children and adults help us build and maintain these gardens. Throughout the summer the gardens provided a steady stream of cucumbers and squash for the entire community. Then in October we had a huge combined harvest and the community enjoyed plenty of delicious organic vegetables.
By the end of the summer Robert acquired 65 acres to build a community park and named it the Medicine Wheel Living Park. It was named in honor of all living creation of the Medicine Wheel especially our sacred Mother Earth. The park showcases a sustainable solution by working in harmony with young, old and our environment and has provided relief and hope to the poverty stricken community of Bear Soldier. It is now named the Standing Rock Medicine Wheel Living Park.
So far we have a shelterbelt of 5000 trees and shrubs of the natural berries from the local area. The shelterbelt is on the north and west side of the Bear Soldier South community and has given fruit for the last few years. We also have 350 fruit trees shaped into a giant medicine wheel, a large fenced in area for the community garden with grapes and raspberries growing on the fence and the beginning of a playground for the children. This past season of 2017 was a productive one for the shelterbelt and we had so much wild plums that many people from all the communities of Standing Rock came to pick but couldn’t pick them all. The formation of the Medicine Wheel Living Park has created a new wave in the field of education in that now some colleges teach making living parks and shelterbelts now instead of just shade and windbreaks.
A goal is to illustrate a good H.O.M.E. Team example of building a modern-day Garden of Eden in honor of our Mother Earth and utilize the steps of creating the park as a blueprint to work with and help build a Living park in the communities of Standing Rock and beyond. The reasoning behind this is that; if one family can create this much food and when all join in we can bring a healing for all. Join the Winning Team …Join the H.O.M.E. Team.