contact us

Thank you for your interest in Simply Smiles! We invite you to explore our projects in Oaxaca, Mexico and on the Cheyenne River Reservation, as well as volunteer opportunities in these locations.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Name
Name

18 Reynolds St.
East Norwalk, CT
USA

Dedicated to building bright futures for impoverished children, their families, and their communities.

Field Notes from the Reservation: Perception versus reality of the Plains

Simply Smiles blog

Follow our blog and read insights from Simply Smiles staff, volunteers and other individuals whose lives are affected by our work!

Field Notes from the Reservation: Perception versus reality of the Plains

Alex Gross

Today, our Field Note is brought to you by volunteers Delaney, Sofia, Lauren, and Gaby from the Palmer Trinity School in Miami, Florida, who are spending the week in La Plant with us!

Spending a week on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is nothing like we imagined it would be - we pictured empty plains of grass, filled with roaming buffalo and tipis scattered throughout the landscape. These may be typical images from the movies but, in reality, it is far from it.

While spending time on the Reservation these past couple of days, we realized that our imaginations were heavily influend by media and that we didn’t take time to think about how life on the Reservation has drastically changed with time. This Simply Smiles trip has introduced us to the real world of the Lakota, and these stereotypical images has been erased.

Fun building at camp! (Z.Gross, June 2015, La Plant, S.D.)

Fun building at camp! (Z.Gross, June 2015, La Plant, S.D.)

We've realized that the people in La Plant are some of the most genuine, caring people that we've ever met, and the fact that our country attempted to eradicate them makes us ashamed.

Some of the families on the Reservation may be broken, but to see the children’s smiles warms our hearts. Their resilience amazes us.  We have connected with the children during camp, carried them on our backs, and played endless games. We spent an afternoon in a cooking class where we made conversation with some of the elders and heard their stories of how our government shamed them for speaking in their native tongue.

This Simply Smiles trip, especially interacting and talking to the people here in La Plant, has opened our eyes to how dangerous our preconceived notions can be and, at the same time, just how wrong they really are. 

Many hands: The Palmer Trinity School crew helped to install six wall panels on a new home for a great family in La Plant! 

Many hands: The Palmer Trinity School crew helped to install six wall panels on a new home for a great family in La Plant!