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Why I #SupportTheReturn: Bob Conaway

Why I #SupportTheReturn: Bob Conaway

I was asked why I donate to the Tanka Fund. I recently had a birthday and I turned 84. I spent 23 years working professionally in the Poverty Program. In order get funds from the Federal government, we constantly had to do needs assessments in poverty. When I did these, I noticed there were no statistics recorded for the Indian people or their reservations. So I pursued it further to find more research on those statistics and what I found was horrendous! Their situation was far worse than in the Black community or the Latin community.

Then I began to study the history of the Native peoples in the United States and the Indian Wars and how the people were treated — and it was horrible! Horrible!

One day I came upon a brochure from Costco and they identified a new product they were selling called Tanka Energy Bars. The bars were produced on and for a Sioux (Lakota) Indian reservation in South Dakota. They were made with buffalo meat and fruit, like in the old “pemmican” we learned about in school. There were about 5,000 retailers servicing them across the United States and Canada. I immediately thought, “What a phenomenal, brilliant economic development idea!”, establishing a new industry on the reservation. It would create jobs and a revenue source for the reservation. And it would be a historical connection to a culture almost forgotten and ignored by so many Americans, restoring a Buffalo economy to Indian Country and providing a traditional food source controlled by themselves! And for those folks who are impressed by people helping themselves, it was certainly fulfilling that!

I decided, “This needs to be supported!”

My nonprofit experience told me that nonprofits need a reliable, consistent source of money. How was I going to make a difference in my current circumstances? I’m retired, I live on a fixed income; I could only contribute a small amount. But I thought — I could contribute a small amount consistently. I thought maybe the equivalent of a beer and pizza — I could give that up one week to contribute on a monthly basis. If revenue comes in consistently, it can add up to hundreds of dollars and if you give monthly, it can be thousands!

Tanka Fund has a goal of revitalizing one million acres of Reservation and Trust Land, and the keystone of the revitalization is the Buffalo. For centuries the Buffalo provided for the Indian People. Now the people are providing and caring for the Buffalo and expanding the herds. I have been with the Buffalo herds in South Dakota, never to be forgotten, these mighty animals who kept the first people of this land alive and well for centuries.

That is why I contribute $25 to the Tanka Fund every month.

Bob Conaway

BFA Ohio U
MFA Instituto Allende, Guanajuato, Mex.
Cultural Arts Director, Protestant Community Services
CEO, Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency

I have been married 57 years, we have 2 children and 3 grandchildren. I live in a 150-year-old school house.