In 2012 my friends and I started a book club. This book club evolved into a charity because we absolutely love reading and literature and wanted to share this love with the world. We soon realized that many library books were being destroyed when they weren’t wanted anymore, so we gathered these books and began donating them to impoverished areas of the world.
Many of the children who receive our books have never even owned one in their lives! Our team has stayed together and continued our work, and with the assistance of almost 1,000 students from multiple states, we have grown into an international 501c3 charity, The Wonderland BookSavers, Inc., one of only about 10 charities fully managed by students under the age of 18. As of 2018 we have donated over 200,000 books across 4 continents.
In the summer of 2017, we were asked, by Sage Fast Dog, a Tribal Leader of the Lakota Tribe, to bring books to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. We were nervous about traveling this great distance to such an unknown area. We also understood that this was an opportunity to set up multiple libraries across several reservations that would reach many American Indian children. We decided to make the trip. In addition to Rosebud reservation and Cheyenne River reservation, our travels took us to Pine Ridge reservation, the poorest corner of the United States.
We gave books to children and saw first hand the harsh conditions American Indians on the reservations were forced to live daily. Many adults and children suffered from the results of alcoholism. Kids walked several miles to go to camp, babies were left alone to fend for themselves, and one girl didn’t even have a proper name. You can watch a video of our Lakota Trip here.
We were very concerned and wondered what corruption in history lead to this abomination. Some of the members of our NHD team were on the Pine Ridge reservation and the research the trip inspired lead to our National History Day project. Once we returned to Connecticut and began investigating the historical events that lead to the Lakota being permanently located on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations we began to understand that that the present situation was a direct outgrowth of past events.
Look for part two of Brooks Barry's National History Day story coming next week!
Brooks Barry is a student at Pequot Homeschool. During the 2018 National History Day Contest, Brooks and his team won the Native American History Award for their group performance: From Sea to Shining Sea: The Conflict of the Fort Laramie Treaties that Compromised American Values.