Â Herbert Hale is 54 years old. A veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, and worked 16 years as a firefighter until back problems caused him to quit. His health is waning now as he has a cancerousÂ brain tumor. He is a member of the Lakota Indian tribe and lives near the tiny South Dakota town of Cherry Creek on the Cheyenne River Reservation.Â His house is a one room building made from, as he puts it, Â "logs, glue -- dirt and water put together -- then cement and the chicken string." There is no running water, no electricity, andÂ there is heat only from a wood stove. Hale says, "Long as the windows don't break, it's nice and warm in here."Â He reads by kerosene lamp but has to be extra careful since it's chimney broke and the flame is now exposed.
Â Â He tries to find odd jobsÂ for extra income, such as pushing a broom,Â as he has a hard time living on the $17 a week he gets from the tribal welfare fund.Â But allÂ jobs are very hard to come by as unemployment is nearly 80% on his reservation. To find work in the larger town of Eagle Butte he has to walk (he has no car) 17 miles up one road, then 21 miles up another, a few turns..and over 40 miles total. He lives in Ziebach County whichÂ is the poorest county statistically in the United States.
Â Â Hale's story is not unusual, there are many like him living in that area. Â Some I have talked to afterÂ visiting the reservations would compare it to living in a third-world country..and this is in the middle of the United States. Almost hard to believe isn't it?
Â Please take the time to read the article titled "Life is Bare Bones on the Lakota Reservation" atÂ Â Â http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/13/king.sotu.economy/index.htmlÂ and find out more about Herbert Hale and the area he lives in.Â