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Scout strives to help reservations

The Boy Scouts and Native American Indians have a common love for the land. Maybe that’s why Boy Scouts are sometimes drawn to the study of Indian culture. Boy Scout Seth Prestwich, a junior at Falcon High School, has taken on a project to help Indians on reservations in nearby states. He also hopes to bring cultural awareness of the Native Americans to local individuals and organizations.Prestwich chose this project to attain the highest rank scouting badge – the Eagle badge. He has previously worked for 21 merit badges in areas such as citizenship, art, camping and other scouting lore before he was allowed to take on an Eagle project.His Eagle project incorporated a two “talon” plan. (A talon is a bird’s claw.) One talon of the project included a partnership with One Nation Walking Together, a local nonprofit organization that helps improve the lives of Native Americans. Prestwich collects food and other expendable items, and One Nation delivers them to impoverished reservations. They especially need food, baby care items and feminine hygiene products.Prestwich plans to run the project through the end of May, with hopes to inspire local businesses, churches, schools, clubs and individuals to collect items as well. Contributors have included Falcon Curves, Black Forest Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Meridian Ranch Elementary School and the Cottonwood Center for the Arts.”I’ll be happy to have the chance to make a difference in at least one person’s life,” Prestwich said.Urban Turzi, executive director of One Nation, said the tribes involved include the Omaha, Navaho, White Mountain Apache, Hopi, Zuni, Lakota, Oglala, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Blackfoot and Flathead. The tribes reside in Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Arizona. “The reservations we deal with are those that are in dire need,” Turzi said. “There are reservations that are quote ‘well off.’ They might get assistance from the casino or something like that. They (the public) think that all the reservations are doing well and all the casinos are doing well. That’s not the case. The ones we deal with are the poorest of the poor, the impoverished; where there is 70 percent unemployment year round and no hope of jobs.”Turzi said about 80 percent of the people have diabetes, heart disease or tuberculosis; while half don’t have indoor plumbing or cars. “(They have) the highest incidence of infant mortality rate among any group; teen suicide is at almost epidemic proportions; half of them don’t finish high school,” he said. “There is just a feeling of hopelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence. It’s just a deplorable situation. It’s Third World country conditions.”Native Americans are also the highest percentage of any group that enlists in the military. “There’s no group that has more on a per capita basis that go into the military,” Turzi said. “This is their country, before it was our country. They love this country and they fight for it. They don’t love the government, but they love the country.”The second talon of Prestwich’s plan is bringing the Native American culture to others through a slide show. Prestwich presented his slide show at MRES May 6. In addition, Apache recording artist Eddie Three Eagles played Indian flutes and an Indian drum for more than 800 elementary students.”We get no help from the federal government or any government agency,” Turzi said “We’re not affiliated with any church entity and the way we get our money is through fundraising events, grants and just donations from individuals, or churches or schools.To contribute to Prestwich’s Eagle Scout project, e-mail

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