Chris Nieratko of Vice has interviewed Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament about his love of skateboarding, and how he has personally helped build skate parks for Native Americans.
Here is an excerpt:
While the United States government doesn’t openly assault Native Americans anymore, the problems and hardships that have been heaped on them over the centuries can still be felt on reservations across the country. Many of them, including South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation, which I visited earlier this month, are poverty-stricken, and hopelessness, suicide, child diabetes, and alcoholism run rampant. Although no alcohol is sold on the Pine Ridge reservation, just across the Nebraska sits a three-block stretch of land called Whiteclay that looks like a set from The Walking Dead. The space consists of four dilapidated warehouses that act as taverns to service the Pine Ridge reservation. Outside each building droves of Native Americans stumbled about, drinking themselves to death. In 2010 the four liquor vendors sold five million cans of beer, a tremendous amount considering the size of the community.
I was visiting Pine Ridge to see the new Grindline-built skatepark at the Wounded Knee District School. In a place facing such hardship, the park represents a source of positivity for the community. The park was paid for by Levi’s Skateboarding and, full disclosure, they flew me out to South Dakota for this trip. While there I met Walt Pourier, head of the Stronghold Society, a group whose goal is to inspire hope and confidence in the reservation’s youth through a number of outlets, mainly skateboarding. With the help of Vans and Pearl Jam’s bassist, Jeff Ament, Walt was able to get phase one of a skatepark built in 2011 and, thanks to his constant diligence, he eventually convinced Levi’s to come in and not only finish phase two in Pine Ridge, but also build the smaller, satellite park on the Wounded Knee school grounds where I met him.
You can read the entire interview go here.