Levi's Skateboarding are known for their support to underprivileged. During the last couple of years they have helped get a number of skatepark builds and DIY spots for the not so fortunate off the ground. Their latest project took place in the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, USA. Home of the Lakota tribe – but also a place with huge drug and alcohol abuse and a suicide rate ten times higher than average. To create better options for the youth Levi's got state of the art park builders, Grindline involved to hook the Native American reservation up with one of the best parks for far and wide. How benefitting for a community a place like this is can now be seen in a cinematic documentary filmed by Greg Hunt, who went to visit along with Levi's riders Joey Pepper, Marius Syvanen, and Josh Matthews..
Since in terms of skate trips this is by far more than your ordinary MACBA vacation, we've sat down Josh Matthews, one of the Levi's Skateboarding team members that went to Pine Ridge, and asked him about skating an Indian reservation.
Hey Josh! Why does Pine Ridge need skateboarding?
Any community like Pine Ridge needs something for kids to do to keep them out of trouble. When your bored and have nothing to turn to that gives you a lot of time to make bad decisions for entertainment. Kids in pine ridge having two skateparks that they can go to and get away is extremely crucial. It's cheap it's fun it's productive it's personal growth, it's exercise physically and mentally, skateboarding in-composes it all so for them to have that now is amazing.
What made Pine Ridge special for you?
I had never been to an Indian reservation like that so for me just seeing a community that has been forced to band together separated from the rest of us right here in our own country was crazy. But it has its positive side effects too, they have a sense of family like no other and they aren't shy to bring you into that and make you feel apart of it.
How long did you go there for?
A brave and proud Native American tribe like the Lakota must be a different stamp. Have you noticed any special skills regarding their skateboarding?
Skating is skating.
Did you see Lakota skaters get back “to be free and roam not only physically but also mentally" while on their boards, as stated by Walt Pourier in the film?
Skateboarding is always a free roaming feeling so I think having that outlet will feel extra special for them.
Did you know much about Native American culture before visiting Pine Ridge?
Not much outside of public schooling.
Ok, real talk: Grindline in Pine Ridge or 100 hands/Builders' Jam in Pura Pura/La Paz, Bolivia?
Both are amazing projects helping kids get on a skateboard and have fun.
They have all been amazing in different ways, I can't express how stoked I am to be apart of these projects. Not many trips have an impact on me like these ones and it feels good being involved.
There was Bangalore, India, La Paz, Boliva… where would you like the next build to take place?
I think our next one is in Christchurch New Zealand. They had a gnarly earthquake there a few years back and a lot of shit got destroyed. Drugs and alcohol are becoming more popular and kids need something to do. Skatepark is the best thing for that in my opinion.
Thank you very much Josh. And props to Levi's for putting up these kind of projects.