Jodi Rave: Youth a part of Big Foot Memorial Ride

"When Donaven Yellow of Wakpala, S.D., joined the Spirit Riders, he pledged to ride four years in the Big Foot Memorial Ride, a nearly 300-mile journey dedicated to the Lakota ancestors who died in one of the nation's most horrific massacres.

On Saturday, he began the fourth journey across the South Dakota prairie with 44 riders who will spend the next two weeks on horseback en route to the Pine Ridge Reservation, picking up others along the way until they number 200.

"Riding for two weeks isn't easy," said the 15-year-old Donaven. "A lot of my friends made the same commitment. It gets really cold. You've just got to ride it out.

"A couple of times, I didn't feel my toes. And my legs were shaking. I had a Gatorade in my pocket. I tried to take a drink, but it was frozen solid after a couple of hours. I was really thirsty that day, and I wasn't warm enough to keep it thawed out."

The Spirit Riders were established in honor of a young man who went to the Spirit World on Sept. 21, 2004. The 16-year-old suffered from mental-health issues, said his father, Manaja Hill.

Before he died, he found some peace with horses after riding in the Big Foot Memorial Ride. It was his introduction to the horse culture."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: 287-mile ride a rite of passage (The Missoulian 12/16)

Relevant Links:
Jodi Rave - http://www.missoulian.com/jodirave

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