White Earth

Carolyn Patterson, Photographer

The road was tired and gray, winding its way past various houses, also tired and gray. The hours moved slowly, the people there moving even slower. With little help and support from the outside world, the life and color of the Native Americans on the White Earth Indian Reservation was slowly being sucked out of them. One summer day, however, 32 feet kicked up dust on the tired, gray road. 16 teenagers with hope in their eyes and a hop in their step walked down the road towards the house. The house, as tired and gray as its surroundings, would soon have life and color pumped back into it. The teenagers worked long and hard, but to them, time was nothing. On the fourth day, 32 feet stood back from their work on the house and smiled. The life and the color of the house infected those around it. Soon, the tired place became busy. Busy with residents working, working to make their own houses as colorful and as full of life as that one house. 16 teenagers made a difference, by volunteering their time and energy to give back to a community that has been given so little, and that house, now full of life, will stand as an example for many more years to come.

Written for the September In-Depth spread, “(87) Days of Summer,” featuring students’ poetry and prose on experiences over summer vacation that changed their perspective.