YVONNE "TINY" DECORY

ABOUT TINY'S WORK

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Yvonne “Tiny” DeCory, Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge, is among those working to stop suicides on Pine Ridge. DeCory is founder of the BEAR program, which stands for “Be Excited About Reading.” This Native Hope fellowship, Tiny’s third fellowship, will allow her to offer her youth leaders in the BEAR program more help—they are role models in their communities, but at times, need extra support to overcome personal challenges. As a form of healing, these youth mentors perform dances and skits to help younger kids struggling with the serious issues of life on the reservation, including suicide. 

This year Tiny’s goal is to hold weekly talking circles for these older BEARS in order to provide a place for the teens to work through their thoughts and share their stories. Because the Pine Ridge reservation is so large (the second largest in the US), transportation is vital to the success of these meetings. This fellowship will help to ensure the talking circles are a sustainable aspect of the BEAR program.

 

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TINY: SUICIDE PREVENTION SPECIALIST

 

Tiny Fellows Video

 

 

Standing in the Eye of the Hurricane: Learning from Yvonne "Tiny" DeCory

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When an unusually high number of suicides occur within a couple of months on a Native American reservation like Pine Ridge, people pay attention for a couple of weeks.

For a while, the news medialocal and national—may pick up the story. They’ll talk about how Native American youth are experiencing a deadly hopelessness and despair and how federal funding and support for mental health services on reservations is minimal to non-existent.

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Native American reservations in South Dakota brace for the coronavirus

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COVID-19 is blasting minorities and underserved populations at an alarming rate. One member of the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota remarked that if COVID-19 hits, it will “spread like wildfire—it is all warriors on deck to fight this threat.”

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Organizations focus on giving hope and sharing love for Valentine's Day

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In another corner of South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Native Hope applauds the BEAR project’s missionas they plan to deliver 500 Valentines to the children of Pine Ridge; this is their fourth year sharing hope. Tiny DeCory, the BEAR program founder and past Native Hope Fellowknows the importance of letting the kids on her reservation know that they are loved. While the acronym BEAR stands for Be Excited About Reading, the program is about so much more. It focuses on the essence of belonging by providing kids the armor they need to be strong and know their worth. Tiny, Eileen, and the troupe combat suicide on a daily basis. How? By taking the time to listen. By offering kindness and support. By just being there! 

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

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In March of this year, Native Hope Fellow, Yvonne “Tiny” DeCory, an activist and suicide prevention specialist, spoke on a panel at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. about the lack of mental health resources available to Native communities.

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Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Family Unity Day

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"Community” and "unity” are important words in the Native culture. They are derived from the Lakota phrase Mitakuye Oyasin, which means we are all related, and without community and unity we could not survive.
Recently, Native Hope participated in the 10th annual Lower Brule Indian Reservation Family Unity Day, which is one of the largest events the community holds each year. It’s a day to share good medicine with the young Native Americans within the community. In response to the high levels of suicide among young Natives, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe wants to make it known that they will show their love to the youth who are struggling.

 

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Creating Space to Tell Stories: The Lakota Dream Museum

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“I knew growing up that at some point I was supposed to be the things I learned in the stories: compassionate, honorable, and brave, and so forth. I knew this because the storytellers lived the lessons they imparted in their stories, and practiced what they preached: they were compassionate, they were honorable, and they were brave and wise.”

These words from the famous Lakota author, Joseph Marshall, communicate the power of the stories we hear as we grow up. The stories we grow up hearing about our parents and grandparents, about the world and how it came to be, about our communities, about what makes for a good life shape our minds and imaginations. These stories shape the size and scope of our dreams for ourselves and what we can achieve.

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Celebrating the power of Native women and Native mothers

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The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman

One summer a long time ago, the seven sacred council fires of the Lakota Sioux came together and camped. The sun was strong, and the people were starving, for there was no game. Two young men went out to hunt.

Along the way, the two men met a beautiful, young woman dressed in white; she floated as she walked. One man had bad desires for the woman and tried to touch her. But, as he did this, the man was consumed by a huge cloud and turned into a pile of bones.

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