Res Life is Skate Life

What came before skateboarding? Many many things, of course. But what came before America as we know it? Well, for one, the Native American people. One way in which we can dive deeper to better understand them: skateboarding.

Skateboarding was derived from surfing. Though surfing was originally an activity for royalty among native Pacific Islanders, skateboarding was mostly sparked by white Americans in the 20th century. It was not a Native American pastime, at least not at first. But what has grown to be a global phenomenon and an objectively certified sport has oozed its way into almost every nook and cranny of Earth’s civilization.

Native American populations have historically been taken advantage of. To this day, they are notoriously neglected and under-resourced. An entire blog post could be written on this topic, but back to skate life… Skateboarding has been unsheathed in native communities all over North America – there are hundreds of sects of tribes that are celebrated to this day. But our resident writer and employee Keegan has spent time specifically in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in the heart of Lakota Nation. The people of the Lakota tribe are descendants of the natives who defended their land and ended General Custer. They are born warriors, and this can be seen in their skating!

Through another visit from Salad Days of Skateboarding, Keegan (and crew) visited the heart of Lakota Nation in 2022. Before this trip, there had long been a concrete skatepark by Grindline Skateparks constructed in the town of Pine Ridge, and the locals were certified flyout champs. However, in the winter there was nowhere for the skateboarders to come together and skate. The winter season in the Dakotas is long and harsh, sparking what is commonly known as “suicide season.” Times are tough, and when one’s respite from hard life on the res[ervation] is taken away for six months at a time, the sacrifice can seem like suffering.

Organizations like Salad Days of Skateboarding and help in providing resources to this community, but the real work is done by our friend Kyle of Ground Control Skateboarding.

Ground Control inherited a warehouse from the tribe’s elders and has built a solid indoor skatepark. While we were visiting Kyle it was just beginning, and they had a great miniramp as a start to this construction. This past winter (2022-23) was the FIRST one that offered the youth in this community a place to go and spend time with friends, skateboarding, ever. What might seem like a nice thing to have to some is a life-saver to others, to those that have little.

When leaving the res on a hot day in August, we were sad to depart but thrilled to see how the scene had grown and would continue to grow. We were there to offer assistance, but the real opportunity for change and progression lies with the local leaders and those investing time on the land. Their land.

What Kyle and his community on the res are doing is game-changing and offers hope to an entire generation of people. They are setting an example for the future and for other native communities on the continent. Many other communities are also building their future through skateboarding. But take note of the Lakota people!

Love Skateboarding.

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