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Tricia Amos lived on the streets of Waubay, South Dakota. It was better than home on the Dakotah Reservation – a desolate scene of alcoholism, dysfunction and abuse. There was a lot of heavy drinking and somewhere along the way, at a party, Tricia found herself “at the wrong place, at the wrong time. I was raped.”
Public school had been a mostly negative experience. “I felt so out of place. I became withdrawn. I knew I was different – there were only two other native kids besides me. It was really hard. I was always told that I was bad; a troublemaker. I always got sent to the principal’s office.”
In her junior year, Tricia dropped out and soon found herself on a path to self-destruction. She shared her journey on the KET series, Dropping Back In. You can view the series online at droppingbackin.org.
Following the birth of her second child – a result of the assault – Tricia found herself in a women’s shelter where someone told her about FACE (Family and Child Education) at Enemy Swim Day School, a program that serves both parents and children.
“I made up my mind. I didn’t want my kids to be brought up that way,” she recalls.
The mission of the Day School is “to provide opportunities to maximize academic potential while fostering cultural identity to promote lifelong learning,” according to its website. For Tricia, that mission provided a critical turning point in life.
“The more meetings I went to, the counseling, all of that helped me realize that I’m not such a bad person. And I deserve a chance.”
The FACE program focuses on family literacy – parents and children, learning together. Parents are encouraged to remain involved in their children’s’ education. The program also addresses parenting skills. The absence of role models had left many generations of the Dakotah nation with no one to emulate.
Tricia’s kids now love school. “To see that excitement in their eyes and for them to know that ‘I did it’ is rewarding enough for me.”
Another reward awaited Tricia. She has obtained a GED® diploma and is working toward a nursing degree.