Pastor Jed Jezek and his wife Sally have been ministering to the people of the Cheyenne River Reservation for 16 years now. Their little church on the prairie has been a shelter to adults and children alike.
Not much is heard about this small reservation in northern South Dakota.
It is home to approximately 8,740 persons. Many of the 13 small communities on the Cheyenne River Reservation do not have water systems, making it difficult for people to live in sanitary conditions. In recent years, water systems have been constructed that tap the Missouri Main Stem reservoirs, such as Lake Oahe, which forms the eastern edge of the Reservation.
With few jobs available on the reservation or in nearby towns, many tribal members are unemployed. Two-thirds of the population survives on much less than one-third of the American average income. Such dismal living conditions have contributed to feelings of hopelessness and despair among the youth. Indian Country Today reports than one in five girls on the Cheyenne River Reservation has contemplated suicide and more than one in ten has attempted it.
The history of this small reservation is rich. Chief Sitting Bull lived here. He and his son were killed by the United States government at Cheyenne River. Sitting Bull’s half brother, Spotted Elk, led an exodus of 350 people off the reservation to the south near the Pine Ridge Reservation but were massacred by 500 soldiers.
The people of Cheyenne River have overcome many obstacles and are still struggling to overcome. Alcoholism, diabetes, suicide and spiritual warfare of all kinds rages on in these beautiful rolling hills.
But the beauty of the land mirrors the beauty of the people. These are a proud people. Proud of their heritage and who God created them to be.
These people are family to Jed and Sally. Not a day goes by that their phone isn’t ringing because the people here know they can depend on them for love and support. No matter the issue, no matter the time, they are there for the people of Cheyenne River.