Listen to Manila's story. Audio Producer: Sarah P. Reynolds

Mateo Chipps, 5, rides his bike after a rainstorm in Cherry Creek, a remote community about an hour’s drive from Eagle Butte. It’s a good place for children to grow up, says Manila Chipps, Mateo’s mother, because they can play, ride bikes and learn about the Lakota culture. Though she also sees the endless problems that come with deep poverty. Jobs, access to health care and educational opportunities are limited. Her older son Malik almost died of an asthma attack because there are no medical facilities near to where they live. “Sure, it’s our homeland,” she says, “it’s the people’s, passed down generations to generations. It’s our own nation. But we’re struggling, and we’re in the United States of America. Struggling.” She herself had no trouble finding a job when the family lived out of state, but cannot find regular work on the reservation. Still, she says she tries to lead by example, buying basic necessities for neighbors with the extra income she earns from selling “Indian tacos” that she makes at home. She said despite hardships, she and her children have a purpose on the reservation–to help other Native Americans.

  • Manila Chipps lives in a trailer on the reservation with her three children.

  • Malik Chipps almost died of an asthma attack because there are no medical facilities nearby.

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"Secretiveness is especially common among welfare recipients, almost all of whom have non-welfare income that they conceal from the welfare departments."

- Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work, by Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein