At Plum, our mission is to nourish little ones with the very best food from the very first bite, and that includes all little ones. A few Plum team members recently traveled to South Dakota alongside our nonprofit partners at Conscious Alliance to work on the Pine Ridge Native Reservation and support little ones on native land. During our drive to the reservation, we had a chance to chat with Walter Pourier, the newest member of the Conscious Alliance team, a Lakota Native and overall incredible storyteller.
Tell us about yourself in a few words.
My name is Walt Pourier of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. I was born and raised on Pine Ridge. I live in Denver now with my wife and kids, but frequently venture back as I have a lot of family, ceremonies and outreach work on Pine Ridge.
What type of outreach work do you do?
I started a design business called Nakota Designs, which does marketing campaigns for the native country. I also run a non-profit called Strong Hold Society, working on suicide prevention efforts specifically in native youth. I started working formally with Conscious Alliance about a month or two ago.
Wow, sounds like you’re involved with a lot of different outreach groups. What made you decide to formally join Conscious Alliance?
I was impressed by their heart and ability to do good work in a grand way, which is especially difficult in rural areas. I met Justin Levy, executive director of Conscious Alliance, and discovered the vast work the organization was doing specifically around healthy food initiatives, gardening and youth empowerment. I wanted to help them better integrate with the native communities in their grassroots work.
What makes Pine Ridge so unique?
Although Pine Ridge is the most poverty-stricken community in this country, it is incredibly rich in culture, spirituality, songs and language that goes back hundreds of years. It all still exists. A lot of natives have lost their language and lost their songs. But there is richness and beauty to the land that keeps us focused and moving forward as a part of something bigger. You can feel it.
What keeps you so passionate about the work that you do?
I’ve witnessed a good bit of trauma in my life. I think it’s having relatives in Pine Ridge – nieces and nephewswho are involved in these traumas – that makes me feel like I need to do something more. It’s difficult for me to see these communities suffer and not feel like enough is getting done.
I’m spiritual in nature, and a lot of prophecies point to good things to come for the native country. It’s what they call the “Seventh Generation Prophecy,” which is believed to take place now with the younger generation. This group of youth is tasked to lead the awakening of Native America, and ultimately humanity, to understand what it means to live as a healthier organism on this planet.
If you could imagine an ideal future for the Lakota Tribe and Pine Ridge, what would it look like?
Sometimes it is hard to find those sparks of hope because you end up seeing so much depth in the problems. It makes it hard to decide what to start working on first. But 50% of the population is under 18 years old. That’s about 22,000 residents on Pine Ridge under the age of 18. Above all, we NEED to empower the youth.
I truly believe we can raise generations of kids to overcome community issues by raising healthier organisms – mind, body, and spirit. A light was sparked when I heard about the Plum’s mission. Food is one of the KEY answers and a key starting point for rural communities. If we can jump start a child’s life with a healthier body and mind there is ripple effect. We can do away with the abuses – bad nutrition, degraded health, drinking, domestic violence – and break the cycle. This is the Seventh-Generation Prophecy I was talking about – it’s so huge. It’s not just for natives. It’s a humanity thing. We can awaken our children’s spirits to be healthier organisms on this planet.