Two fully packed U-Hauls filled with clothes and shoes made their way from the Southern Ute Indian Reservation to Wanblee, SD and Navajo Mountain, AZ last month. The War-Party Clothing Drive took place in Ignacio and proved to be a success, judging by the truckloads of clothing donated around Indian Country.
“The last statement made as we closed the doors was ‘Ignacio rocks!’ They came in caravans,” tribal elder Ula Gregory said.
What started out as conversation between Margaret Hummingbird-Red and Gregory, turned out to be a community wide effort to help others in need.
Gregory credits the large turnout to the outreach efforts headed by tribal member Daisy Bluestar, who made flyers and started spreading the word.
Hummingbird-Red said the decision to donate to Wanblee comes from her personal experience with the location, having traveled to Sun Dances in the area. Wanblee is located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – where a majority of the Oglala band of Lakota Sioux reside.
“I always had this idea and I know how bad it is there … they are real spiritual people, but they struggle,” Hummingbird-Red said.
On Oct. 22 the War-Party group made the 12-hour trip north to South Dakota. “We took a packed 10-ft long U-Haul, but we could’ve really used a 20-ft one,” Gregory said. “David Lopez and Rodney Red were our drivers.”
Sponsoring tribal elder, Donna Rock also made the 735-mile trip north.
“I was happy we had taken that up there, they needed it,” Rock said.
Hummingbird-Red agreed, “They were very appreciative … reservation to reservation there are no boundaries on what we can do for each other.”
After coming home, there were still multiple bags of clothes leftover, as well as a horse trailer full of donations that came in from two gentlemen, Long Solider and John Hunch.
Gregory was able to find a location for the donations left over. This time around, they were prepared and opted for the 20-ft U-Haul, she said.
Gregory and other volunteers delivered the remainder of the clothes to Navajo Mountain, concluding this year’s War-Party Clothing Drive.
Gregory said she still has left over toys in her house that were donated and is thinking that next month she may make another trip out to Navajo Mountain.
The community wide support helped make the clothing drive possible. The group pitched in their own money along with monetary donations from multiple people including the Southern Ute Tribal Council to make the trips possible.
“It was a good trip, I loved the adventure,” Gregory said.
“This clothes drive brought a lot of people together everyone was happily willing to give,” Hummingbird-Red said. “I want to say thank you to everyone for helping make this a success.”
The group is done for this year, but hopes to have the same drive next year.
Donna Rock, Justin Marettas Lang and girls, Betty Box, Joyce Dutchie, James, Juan Romero, Kayla Armstrong, KSUT, Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, Jicarilla Tribe, Pueblo Community College, Ignacio, Durango, Animas Herbal, SunUte Community Center, David Lopez, Rodney Red, Sky Ute Casino Resort, Southern Ute Tribal Housing Dept., Roots in Ignacio, Alicia, Angelo, Donovan, Sheila Nanaeto, Erika Howe, Gerald Howe, Kateri Largo, Ann Weaver, Melinda Ortiz, Jake Ryder, Robert Baker, LaFayette Taylor, Tim Ryder, Betty Lehi, April, Dustin Weaver, Long Solider, John Hunch, and everyone else who generously donated.