Norma Blacksmith is a Lakota Sioux Native who grew up in Pine Ridge, South Dakota (one of the largest reservations in the U.S.). Now in her late-70s, Norma is a great-grandmother and a respected tribal elder. Norma is included in the book, 100 + Native American Women Who Changed the World by K.B. Schaller. She also travels to other reservations throughout the country to share the Gospel.
Dedicated missionaries and native Lakota leaders have ministered faithfully in the reservation for years, but the needs were still overwhelming with dysfunctional families, 80% unemployment, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and a high mortality rate. A quarter of the babies born on the reservation are affected by fetal alcohol disorders and 90% of the crimes are alcohol-related. Many families have no electricity, phone, running water or sewage system.
In early 2015, Pine Ridge was wracked by an epidemic of youth suicides, including collective death pacts. Fear and grief engulfed the community. Suspecting this was a spiritual assault on the next generation, a group of Native intercessors invited George Otis Jr. from Sentinel Group to Pine Ridge to discuss the principles and power of transforming revival.
A few perverse medicine men were influencing the suicides, but Norma Blacksmith led a band of intercessors and the power of the Holy Spirit was unleashed to break the bands of death. As the suicides abated, many traumatised families (including prominent traditionalists) opened up to the love of God.
When George shared revival principles, people were eager to hear the Word of the Lord and put it into practice. Healings, deliverances, and conversions of prominent drug dealers and religious traditionalists picked up across the reservation. Norma targeted fifteen drug dealers in prayer and all were arrested in the following weeks.
A prominent medicine man was exposed as influencing suicides. He ordered the assassination of a young man who exposed him. After intercessors prayed, the unscrupulous medicine man was arrested.
Walo Ani, who facilitated amazing transformations in villages in Papua New Guinea was brought to Pine Ridge in 2016. Walo taught on corporate repentance, leading times of public confession and expressions of unity.
Wade McHargue reported, “It was a powerful time. The presence of God was very tangible and the Holy Spirit spoke clearly through His servants. The week culminated with a unity service with five churches represented…It was deeply moving to see many come forward to repent publicly, and to make reconciliation and intercession. It was unlike anything I’ve seen since being here…we just witnessed an indisputable act of God here…the fruit of years of fasting and prayer, and a specific outgrowth of the time George Otis and Walo spent with us.”
Supernatural Signs of Hope
Jerome’s Sun Dance is the biggest on the reservation, attracting around 500 people each year. The Sun Dance tree, bearing flesh offerings and tobacco ties, is buried seven feet into the ground, and remains up all year. The month after Walo’s and George’s ministry, a violent wind pulled that tree out of the ground and threw it down. Norma and Walo had prayed that this pole would be pulled down.
In answer to prayer, in 2017, the State of Nebraska shut down the four liquor stores. One year later, Bruce Bonfleur reported that no one was suffering in the streets, no one was lying passed out, no one was getting stabbed, and no one was urinating or defecating in public on the street. State senators formed a task force to create new businesses and establish a detox and rehab facility.
Several churches came together to have unity services.