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Welcome to "Words to Re-Member", the official blog of Re-Member.

Friday, September 12, 2014

“I WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL TO RE-MEMBER”

by Alex Hultgren, Re-Member Social Media Director

Walking into Patricia Catches the Enemy’s home, one is immediately struck with a sense of warmth.  Delicious smells coming from the stove, photos of both honored elder family members and beautiful grandchildren on the walls, an almost-completed star quilt in the traditional medicine wheel colors laying over the couch . . . it’s everything you would want in a grandmother’s house.  And Patricia has been grandmother to many, many people on Pine Ridge Reservation over the years. 

Patricia grew up on her family’s homestead a few miles north of the community of Pine Ridge learning the importance of hard work.  “We had horses and my father taught us how to ride bareback.  We didn't have saddles and had to learn how to make our own halters,” explained Patricia.  “We had to bale hay, pick apples, do certain chores; I've always worked.” 

In addition to a strong work ethic, as Patricia grew up she was strongly influenced by her father’s teachings.  “My father was a very famous medicine man, Pete Catches.  He used to be a police officer and one time when he was seriously hurt, he was taken to his grandfather who was a medicine man. His grandfather spent three days doctoring my father.  My father also had dreams since he was young about animals -- animals that were always pushing him toward something.  After his healing, he began to study traditional medicine himself and revived a lot of the rituals that were no longer practiced.” As he became a respected and very well-known medicine man, Pete was asked to travel quite a bit.  “He went to Japan and Hawaii to teach, and one time when he was in France they asked him to go to Rome, where he had a chance to meet the Pope!” stated Patricia. 

Patricia Catches The Enemy and a traditional star quilt
she is making for an Alcoholics Anonymous fundraiser.
When asked about the star quilt she is making, she states that she wants to complete it for a fundraiser for her AA group.  “I've been active with this AA group since 1980” when she returned from the Rez after a brief time away.  “My sister died and I began drinking a lot.  But I was educated enough to see that it would only be a matter of time before I died from this disease [alcoholism], so I got sober.”  From there, she returned to college to get a degree in substance abuse counselling and starting working for the tribe in a treatment program.  “After that, I held various positions including being director of the Burial Program and working on Housing” stated Patricia, but after speaking with her, one can tell pretty quickly that her passion has always been more around working with the youth. 

“I worked with kids with substance abuse problems and we used to take them into the Black Hills and teach them life skills, coping skills.  I also used to work with runaway and homeless youth.   There have been so many over the years, and when I see some of them in town who are now grown, they come up to me and say ‘Hi Grandma!’” she said with a smile.

One name she won’t forget anytime soon is Re-Member.  “A few years ago I was getting so frustrated, because I needed some work done on my home and I had tried so hard here with the programs that are supposed to assist the elders and I couldn't get anywhere,” stated Patricia.  “I called Re-Member and they were only going to do one little thing –a window on the east side, I think – but it turned into a major project and I got a new roof!” 

But it was not just the work done to her 70-year-old home, it was the volunteers and staff that make an impact as well. “I was so awe struck – a lot of the elders here feel despair, but then I saw these Re-Member volunteers come with such young energy and excitement!  And whatever race or ethnicity they were didn't matter; they understood the essence of being human.  I met every one of those people that came out.  And after my roof, they trimmed my trees and dug some new drainage areas in my yard so the water wouldn't run into toward the house when it rains,” said Patricia.  “I will be forever grateful to Re-Member.”

It was a true honor to speak to Patricia and hear her stories and experiences.  Re-Member works to help 350-400 families on the reservation every year.  If you would like to come to Pine Ridge to meet people like Patricia, book a week with us today!  And as always, we appreciate your ongoing support! Comments/questions?  Please contact me at alex@re-member.org.

  

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