March 2023

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 21, 2007

Alex and Debra White Plume's home burns to the ground

Alex and Debra White Plume's home burned to the ground on Pine Ridge. They lost everything. Our Lakota friends have given their all, always championing justice for the people and protection of the land and sacred ways. Hopefully now we can return something to them. Brenda Norrell

From Kent Lebsock:
Yesterday, the home of my good friends, Alex and Debra White Plume, burnt to the ground. Gratefully, no one was injured. Nonetheless, they had built the home themselves and raised their children and grandchildren there. Because they had the chance to build their own home, they did not have to live in the government housing designed to keep our people from the land. The home was their shelter on the territory of the Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

I don’t suppose there is anyway to understand this kind of loss. On TV, in these kinds of disasters, they always say, ‘well, it was only things that were lost and thank god everyone got out ok.’ True enough about the people. But I don’t believe that in a real home it’s only things: there is a spirit there, like anywhere, and that spirit nurtures us. When it is wounded we are wounded.

All of the excellent work that Alex and Debra have done for our people all of these years came out of this home. All of Debra and Alex’s records, books, reports, studies, art, and irreplaceable records of the Native and Indigenous movement over the past 40 years were, of course, lost along with their home. Consequently, their loss is a loss to all of us interested in the preservation of our culture and history.

I love Alex and Debra like the family they are and admire them more than I can express. I have had no idea of how to respond to this tragedy. Everyone is offering to do what they can, but what can we really do besides pray and invoke the spirit of the ancestors who share in the tragedies of all our people and help us, in their wisdom, to heal. Well, I thought, I can at least donate some money and ask our network of family, allies and friends to do the same. None of us are wealthy people but I’ve seen, through my work with Debra and Alex, what allies united can achieve. Even if it’s only $5, they can buy a 12 pack of socks or $20 will get a pair of coveralls at Walmart. Banding together, I think we really can be of help in the short term.

This is not tax deductible. This isn’t a contribution for any advocacy or any of our work. It’s just to help friends. I admit that this is somewhat selfish on my part because I feel so helpless and felt the need to do something. But if any of you feel the same way, let’s come together and help out.

Checks or money orders or I suppose even cash can be sent to Alex and Debra White Plume, PO Box 535 , Manderson , SD 57756 . If you have any questions, give me a call in New York at 917-751-4239.

Pila maya yelo.
Kent Lebsock
Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way)
International Justice & Human Rights Project

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