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Pity the Land, Pity the Poverty

I feel lied to. Everything looks broken and ruined…I once envied the land’s beauty, but now I pity our poverty. ~Payton Sierra, Middle School Runner-Up

Payton Sierra is a student at the Red Cloud School on Pine Ridge Reservation in SD and a runner-up in the Middle School category of Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s 2014 VOICES OF THE LAND Writing Challenge. In her prize winning poem, Makhóče kin Únšikila, (Lakota for “Pity the Land”), Payton presents a message to the world and her community about the mistreatment of the land.

Makhóče kin Únšikila speaks from the heart about the beauty of the land, and yet Payton’s message is one of responsibility. Payton’s poem reflects on how the land around her is marred by “trash left on the ground like an unwanted dog.” She speaks about pitying the land and also pitying the poverty which impacts the land, she says “Oh, how I wish our people cared.”

This intense message comes to you from Payton, a Middle School student. Listen Up. #Inspirational

Makhóče kin Únšikila (Pity the Land)

Beautiful blankets of snow everywhere.

Sounds of children playing.

This land is so precious

like sparkling diamonds that are scattered from here-to-there.

Perfect silence. Love.

Beautiful winter sunset calling me home.

Telling me to keep moving.

Telling me everything is beautiful in the end.

But our cover melts. I feel lied to.

Everything looks broken and ruined.

Summer heat brings my mind back to reality.

The beauty is gone,

now we’re back to the kids that don’t have anything but a diaper on.

Back to the summer parties and the trash

left on the ground, like an unwanted dog.

This trash devastates our land.

Oh, how I wish our people cared.

I once envied the land’s beauty,

but now I pity our poverty.

~Payton Sierra, 8th grade, Pine Ridge Reservation

This is part of the VOICES OF THE LAND Collection on Medium.

(c) 2014, content originally published by Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc., all rights reserved. (c) Cindy and Maggie Photography, 2014




Lakota youth from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD speak out about climate change, sacred lands, the Keystone Pipeline and the abuse and misuse of Uni Maka (Grandmother Earth) and her resources.

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Lakota Children

Lakota Children

Lakota Children's Enrichment #Nonprofit that envisions equal opportunities for ALL children. #Empowering #Lakota youth. Founder: @mhope13 LEARN. CARE. ENGAGE.

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