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To say living conditions on South Dakota’s Oglala Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation are akin to a Third World nation may be an overly positive comparison.

Many of the challenges facing the reservation are identical—and in some instances even more desperate—to that of the world’s poorest nations.

The statistics are staggering: Unemployment on this reservation of about 30,000 inhabitants hovers near 90 percent. Men are not expected to reach their 50th birthday. And the annual household income is about $3,500.

Perhaps most troubling is the alarmingly high infant mortality rate and the reservation’s staggering rate of teen suicide—particularly among young women.

Bringing hope to Pine Ridge

“If Pine Ridge were a country it would be the poorest in the world,” said Twila True, a Lakota Sioux who spent part of her childhood on Pine Ridge.

True counts herself among the fortunate from her tribal nation.

She escaped many of the troubles that define Pine Ridge and has built a successful life in the business world. She is a philanthropist, a wife, and a mother. But her love for her people and their potential remain.

She founded the True Sioux Hope organization with a vision to deliver opportunity and hope to her people.

Now she counts the Church’s Deseret Industries as a key partner.

To read the full article on the Church News, click here