As the build season for Tiyospaye Winyan Maka comes to a close, I am feeling empty. Empty because we went through a very crazy ride that ended only yesterday. I will post again soon to tell you the reason for this somewhat lengthy story. Here goes:
Today I write because I need to address the ache I am feeling deep inside. You see, myself and the Fast Horse family were all pretty excited about a 40 year old trailer house that was being donated by someone in Steamboat Springs. The trailer would have enabled them to live on their land and away from the housing area in which they currently live. The donor was also good-hearted enough to tell us that he would dismantle the roof built over the top of the trailer and send us the lumber and the metal roof to help us save money. Their house in Wounded Knee is full of bed bugs and roaches, black mold, broken windows, screens and dreams and is just very unhealthy. We planned on staying busy through the winter months raising funding to start on the build of their home in the Spring of 2014.
We waited patiently since hearing about the donation of the trailer in June of this year. Patience came easily as we kept ourselves busy building a small storage shed for the tools and equipment we have gathered; a small root cellar which kept our vegetables nicely, and applauded when roads came and graded a new road for us and cleared the foundation. Ahh, but then we found out yesterday that the trailer will be demolished where it sits rather than have the person who planned on donating it go through any more frustration over getting it to Wounded Knee.
Please, if you possibly can imagine the impact this news had not just on me, but the family as well. I was the one who had to break the news to them. I felt like the worst possible "Indian giver" in Lakota territory.
In order for me to understand what feels like betrayal, I needed to research the governmental agencies that might be involved in this "moving project". The donor made the decision to demolish the trailer based on misinformation supplied by another person who thought that he was being asked to rent a truck to transport the home to the land. The couple who were the donors told me that he scared them straight about the "rules and regulations" involved in such a move. He mentioned he was told that if the trailer broke down on the highway, the donor could be charged up to $20,000 to tear the trailer down and move it from the roadway. Remember, through "misinformation" he thought he was being asked to transport the trailer here; which if that were the case, I'm sure that he would have needed to put all of these licenses in place. But that was not the case. I only found out about this misunderstanding when I called another friend who had put the call out for beds and dressers and other assorted household items for the family and was informed about that misunderstanding. Before this, I thought they couldn't make it due to the flooding in Colorado.
Both of the donors told me that it was governmental agencies that were the root evil of all this frustration so I called the following: a. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Offices b. Colorado Department of Transportation c. Colorado State Patrol re: commercial vehicle regulations d. Raynette (forgot which office she was from) who informed me that all that was needed to transport from the trailer site to Wounded Knee was a Unified Carrier Registration. e. Routt County offices in Steamboat Springs - building department.
Before we found uShip it, a company that serves as a transport broker, the donor told me he had found someone IN Colorado who would do the job, but it was going to cost $6,000 and could we help him fund some of that by reaching out to our contacts. I was surprised because when this started, there was a lot of talk about a "construction loan" which I believed was for new tires and work on the trailer. I said the only thing I could do was to see if we could help him find a driver who wasn't quite as expensive. Entering the picture now is a young man who is affiliated with uShip it who said he could do it for $3,700. But then, he became difficult to contact and the week or so that the donor and I tried, I finally spoke with him and found that three members of his family were killed in a traffic accident and he just was not taking it well; I started searching for another driver. I checked out the website for uShip it, and found that they moved trailer homes. Not only do they move them, they also have the "Unified Carrier Registration" which allow them to travel inter-state. After a few days, we recieved a bid that would move the trailer for $1,800 and I became very excited and called the donor and told him I would forward that e-mail with the bid to him. He said he accepted the bid, but had a couple of additional questions, so I went back to that e-mail and the website.
In my e-mail, it showed that the bid HAD NOT been accepted, so I accepted it thinking it would show me that it had already been accepted. Instead, it took me straight to the payment page and said the payment had to paid in full, by card for the move to begin. So I called the donor and gave him this information. He said well you'll need to pay it, and I said I didn't have that kind of money and why didn't he just go in and enter the information they needed. He said "How do I know these people are on the up and up?" So I called and spoke with them at uShip it and was told that they hang on to the money when it's paid, they call and give us the payment code, and when the trailer is delivered and inspected, we give the code to the driver who then recieves his/her money. This sounded pretty secure to me. Intead, he allowed the "bid" to expire. Next, after we spoke, he said that he had re-opened the bid...he had not. Lastly he told me he had talked directly to that bidder and they upped the bid to $2,000. I wanted to talk to this driver myself, but try as I might, there was no way to contact him personally. uShip it doesn't allow drivers who post on their site to have any access to the client lest they should try to do the business on the site to avoid the percentage payment to uShip it.
But the donor was not done setting up roadblocks in front of this move. Next he said it was Routt County that was blocking the move. By this time, I was emotionally exhausted and told the donor "It sounds like you are just determined not to get the trailer here, and you've chosen to demolish it instead. He said he didn't have a choice because he didn't want he or his partner to be held liable for any financial problems that might arise out of this "good deed" because their hearts were in the right place, their intentions were good". (Kind'a like the U.S. government when they had the Fort Laramie Treaty meeting in 1868 eh? oh sorry...do I sound a little bitter? This too shall pass.)
Finally, I had heard so many discrepancies from this donor, that I called Routt County Building office and told the lady why I was calling. After just a couple of words from my mouth, she knew exactly what, and who I was talking about. She stated the donor had been in there that morning and his major concern was how much money it was going to cost him to move "the thing". So why didn't he explain from the start? I found that the "construction loan" that I thought was directed toward the repair and move of the trailer, was in fact probably going to the house that he and his partner are building and the trailer was sitting on the lot they had purchased.
I called the donor in Denver re: the furniture and household items he had gathered, and he said he has all these things and nowhere to take them, so he had to call the donors and see what they wanted to do.
And here on Pine Ridge, are the deeply disappointed family of 9 that thought they would get out of their house full of contaminates this week-end. Truly, I am heartbroken to see their hopes lifted so high and then slammed to the ground. I go home to Colorado and my grandkids in two days, band a large part of my heart will be with the little ones here.
Well, that's the whole story in a rather large nutshell. If you took the time to read this, I thank you. It just did me a world of good to get it out. Be well each of you, stay strong on your Journeys, and Wicosani to you and those you love. Christinia