Meet Our Speakers: Betty O'Rourke

At Bette’s Kitchen on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Betty O’Rourke serves up fry bread and wisdom with equal vitality. Betty has run the Wounded Knee, South Dakota restaurant out of her home for the last 17 years to provide nourishment and a meeting place for reservation residents and visitors. Betty is an Oglala Lakota Indian and the great granddaughter of well-known tribal spiritual leader, Nicholas Black Elk. Her experiences on and off the Pine Ridge Reservation have led Betty to believe that little is more important than education. After a meal of fry bread, soup, and Indian tacos, Betty instilled in us the critical role education plays on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and in all communities, and urged us to never cease in our pursuit of learning. For multiple generations the Black Elks have acted as liaisons for the Oglala Lakota culture, sharing their history and beliefs, and Betty continues this legacy through the food, hospitality, and stories she offers to tribal members and visitors alike. “I love what I do,” Betty says, “its not a job.”

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By: Abby Popenoe