Lakota Oyate Artisans

Lakota Hope has been working with Lakota artists and crafters longer than we’ve been called "Lakota Hope." The there is some amazing talent on the reservation and there is rich tradition and meaning in Lakota art. However, Pine Ridge is isolated from the broader market the point where top-notch artists have to settle for really low prices. 

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Getting out of that grant seemed like a horrible thing at the time, but in the end getting out of that grant was just the thing we needed to move into the next stage: Artist leadership. When you have a grant, it dictates what you spend your time on and the grant and those administering it direct the program. Now the artists lead the program. The artists have renamed their group to Lakota Oyate Artisans. We have a new mission statement:

“We are a group of working artists and crafters, empowering the people through the arts to become economically independent from any government. We are dedicated to promoting and most importantly preserving Lakota arts and crafts for our future generations.”

Joe Pulliam created a new logo for our group where he painted a buffalo symbolizing economic prosperity on ledger paper which points to the resilience of Lakota arts and culture through times of struggle.

The main function of the group is to get Lakota art out in front of more people. We’ve done this in a few ways. We put on our own event called Night of Another Hope on Tuesday nights where artist pay a small amount to set up. Then we have a community meal, some worship time, and a message shared b y a Lakota pastor. Usually we have about 150-200 people attend most come from NextStep a short-term mission trip hosting organization, some come from other outside groups, and the remainder are community members and artists.

We are also starting to do more large events. We set up at the Oglala Nation Pow Wow. The spot would have cost each artist $500 plus the costs of canopies and tables chairs and lighting, but as a group we were able to do some fundraising and cost sharing to get each artist into the pow wow for $60-$95 each depending on whether they wanted an extra table. We have already begun the planning process to set up at the Buffalo Roundup.

We also have started an Etsy store as a group. Many artist don’t have bank accounts and therefore can’t sell through online stores. Also, shipping can be a hassle, but by centralizing the store we make the fulfillment fast and easy. The things that we've put on the store have sold very quickly!

It’s been awesome to see how each member of the group has chipped in to make all this possible. We’ve had several run fundraisers for the group by selling fry bread and wojapi. Others have volunteered time by helping with setup and take down for events. We’ve had some bring food to events to help others eat healthier and save money. We had a whole bunch donate art for a fundraising raffle. Lakota Oyate Artisans is not just a bunch of artists who are out to make a better living: Lakota Oyate Artisans shows the power of a community built on respect and generosity.

If you want be a part of the great work that they are doing, support their work by buying from our Etsy store. Or you can donate directly through using the button below. 

The Harvest is Plentiful and the Laborers Are Too

 

Over the course of this summer I've had a substantial paradigm shift in how I think about ministry in Pine Ridge. When I first moved to Whiteclay, I bemoaned the lack of manpower we had to meet spiritual and physical needs on the reservation. In several prayer meetings I prayed Luke 10:2 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few!” I prayed for a day when God would raise up Lakota leaders who he would ultimately use to transform the Oglala Lakota Nation, but like most non-native missionaries and pastors, I got a little discouraged by how long that was taking.

I thought and felt this way until Lakota Hope hosted a ministry round table at the beginning of this summer. All around the table there were passionate, competent Lakota ministry leaders wanting to do more in more in ministry. However, many Lakota Pastors and ministry leaders expressed the difficulties of being Lakotas in ministry. They were under resourced, didn’t have meeting spaces, and struggled to move forward in ministry while working full-time jobs.

At that meeting I realized that the problem is not a lack of Lakota’s who are called or qualified for ministry: The real problem is that Lakota-led ministries are under-resourced and generally don’t receive enough support from their non-native ministry counterparts. This problem is leading to a shift in priorities for Lakota Hope. Before I tell you about how Lakota Hope is supporting Lakota-led ministries let me tell you about some of the inequity that holds Lakota-led ministries back.

First and foremost, Lakota led ministries are under resourced. Fundraising is all about who you know. As someone who grew up in the suburbs or St. Paul, I know a lot of prospective funders for ministry projects. But someone who has lived most of their life on a reservation with 80% unemployment is going to have a much harder time getting the support they need to run a ministry. Because of the lack of funding, most Lakotas in ministry need to work full-time jobs, and have limited time to put into their ministry work. Many Lakotas in ministry also lack buildings, so churches and youth ministries meet in homes or in borrowed spaces.

Before writing this article, I had several conversations with Lakota ministry leaders. All of them expressed feelings that non-natives and natives alike often viewed or treated them as less qualified. Lakota leaders may receive leadership training, be invited to share their testimony, or even preach, but it is less common for Lakotas to be put in positions of true leadership. Pastor Joe Cross pointed to this as the root of one of the biggest misconceptions on the reservation: that Jesus is a “white man’s god.” We can argue against this misconception until we are blue in the face, but as long as white people own the churches, run the churches, and seem to have a special claim on the “call from God,” that misconception will be preserved, and Jesus will always be viewed as a “white man’s god.”

Lakota-led ministries often need technical support. There are diverse talents and areas of expertise in the local church, we just need to be better at sharing those talents with each other. Some ministries have expressed the need for help with websites or online fundraising. Others needed help with grant writing or getting 501(c)(3) status.

Lakota Hope currently has a staff of one (me) and limited financial resources, so we can only become a small part of what is needed to give Lakota pastors the support they need, but we are doing what we can to build up Lakota ministries. Our primary areas of service are helping Lakota led ministries with funding, providing technical assistance, and helping native and non-native ministries with networking.

To help ministries with finances we are sharing a portion of what we fundraise with Lakota-led ministries. Currently about 10% of our budget has been diverted to Lakota-led ministries. We also help connect Lakota ministries with resources by encouraging outside ministries to support Lakota ministries.

Technical support is another way that we are supporting Lakota ministries. I’m fairly savvy with online fundraising and website building. I hope to pass those skills along to Lakota pastors as well as bring in people to educate in other areas such as person-to-person fundraising or perhaps help on some of the paperwork.

Another way we have already started to help is by connecting ministries through our round table meetings and by creating a website as a living ministry directory.

In future posts and newsletters, I hope to highlight some of the awesome Lakota men and women of God who are currently making their foray into ministry and share ways that you all can support them directly. We’ll do so much more for the kingdom when we break down the dividing fences between out ministries and distribute the tools we have as non-native ministries to the Lakotas already doing the work. The harvest is plentiful, AND THE LABORERS ARE TOO!

~ Abram Neumann: Interim Director at Lakota Hope

Meet the New Guy

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Well, I'm not really "new" - I met Bruce and Marsha in Whiteclay on a short-term mission trip in 2011, and interned with them in the summer of 2014 and moved to the reservation to work with Lakota Hope in May, 2015. With Bruce and Marsha retiring this month, I'll be stepping up to lead Lakota Hope as interim executive director. Lakota Hope will be maintaining our goal of "bringing hope, healing and wholeness to all through a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ." At the same time, new leadership brings a new vision on how to achieve that goal. I'll talk more about that vision in a future post. For now, let me tell you about myself. 

I come from a family nine. Out of seven siblings I fall right into the middle in the birth-order. I'm a pastor's kid and my siblings and I were all home-schooled right up to college. I was born in Minnesota then my family moved to Texas then when I was ten we moved back to Minnesota. Before I moved to the reservation I worked as an engineer's assistant at a Plywood factory in St.Paul, MN.

God initially called me out to the reservation to work with people on the street in Whiteclay. My time in street ministry was a really blessed time. I would sit out on main street with my friends who came there to drink and I would listen to their stories, jokes with them, pray with them, and sometimes provide for physical needs for first aid, or food, or sometimes I would try to help get them into rehab. I did street ministry until April 30, 2017 when the four liquor stores closed and my friends dispersed to their homes or the streets in Pine Ridge. 

In the fall of 2016, I started going to the Oglala Lakota College and pursuing a bachelor's degree in Social Work with an emphasis in chemical dependency. I'm still working on my degree. At the end of this semester I should have 76 out of 120 credits completed. Once I graduate, I plan on working in the field of drug and alcohol treatment on the reservation. If a residential treatment facility hasn't been started by the time I graduate, I would like to spearhead the effort to start it. 

I want my life to embody the radical generosity and faith in the sermon on the mount. And I want to be a part of a church that lives out the Acts 2:42-47 church where we fellowship daily, and meet each others needs.

I love the Oglala Lakota Nation: The friendly, generous, and humorous culture; the music; the stories; the beautiful land; the fervent church; and Big Bat's burritos. I hope God allows me to live here for a very long time. 

I want to tell you more about my life philosophies or my vision for Lakota Hope, but finals are coming up, so I better get back to homework. Thanks for reading! 

Fresh-Cut Christmas Wreaths!

We are selling Christmas wreaths once again! Due to popular demand we are bringing bask the fresh cut wreaths. The wreaths are made with fresh-cut, local cedar, pine, and spruce, which smells incredible! The wreaths are accented with bright rose hips and pine cones. We are also giving the option of adding a dream catcher design in the center accented with feathers for an additional $10. 

Why Make Wreaths? 

First off making wreaths employs several native men, giving them the means to provide for their families and to buy gifts for Christmas. In addition, wreath sales provide money for Lakota Hope to continue ministering to the Lakota people. 

Choose from one of two styles

Classic 26" Wreath 

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Dream Catcher Wreath 

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Choose Style

Imagining the New Whiteclay - Day 1

 Senators Tom Brewer and Patty Pansing Brooks welcome attendees

Senators Tom Brewer and Patty Pansing Brooks welcome attendees

Tonight was the beginning of our Whiteclay Summit. The Summit has brought together a diverse group of state legislators, attorneys, budding Lakota entrepreneurs and seasoned business people, a grant writer, media, artists, a pastor, and directors of non-profits and community members. This diverse group has one thing in common: a heart to see Whiteclay transformed to provide jobs, housing, education, much needed services, treatment, and ultimately for Whiteclay to be a place of healing and hope.

We attendees were welcomed by Bruce, and senators Tom Brewer and Patty Pansing Brooks. The results of a survey asking about residents of the Reservation’s hopes for Whiteclay’s were shared and entrepreneurs and community members shared their visions and hopes for Whiteclay in a panel discussion.

Dave Rooks of Oyate Parks shared the essential role of parks in developing pleasant communities and good economies. He encouraged the development of parks reminding attendees that we are in a war (against suicide, crime violence and division), and that parks “shape the battlefield” Chris Cuny a Lakota entrepreneur shared a video presentation and talked about his vision for a modern tipi village and an aviary.

The best part was the networking. I was awesome to see people get excited and connect on their shared dreams and passions. Overall that first meeting was a big success. And we are looking forward to even greater things tomorrow! 

 
 Panelists Billy Janis, Stephanie Clifford, Andrea Northup, and Nadine Morrison share their visions for Whiteclay. 

Panelists Billy Janis, Stephanie Clifford, Andrea Northup, and Nadine Morrison share their visions for Whiteclay. 

 

Straw Bale Gardens 2017

Contribute to the project

Once again we are planting straw bale gardens for families on the reservation. Straw bale gardens are an excellent way to promote both self-sufficiency and health on the Reservation. 

 A bountiful harvest from our straw bale gardens

A bountiful harvest from our straw bale gardens

Straw bale gardens are an excellent technique for gardening in an environment where soil quality vary. The treatment technique that we use on the straw bales makes the straw nitrogen rich. When the roots hit the straw, the plants shoot up. Additionally, the straw retains moisture well and perhaps best of all there are no weeds!

This year we have adjusted our price to $180 per garden. This price includes everything: seeds and seedlings, straw bales, hoses, trellises, fertilizer, soil, and more. The biggest thing that we are doing different this year is hiring two young Lakota men. These young men will be able to provide them with employment and they in turn will help us get the project done in a timely manner. 

Join us in providing a hand up to our Lakota neighbors and promote self-sufficiency on the Reservation. 

Contribute to the Project

Personal Profile - Arley Dreamer

This is the second post in a series of personal profiles of the "risen warriors" of Whiteclay. After Marsha Bonfleur wrote this story she read it with Arley who suggested a few revisions and approved the article to be published. 

Out of Whiteclay

Bruce and I had been invited to share our heart for the Lakota Nation with the members of Heartland Worship Center in Camdenton, Missouri. Bruce was getting ready to speak when David Williams, a Heartland member, asked if he could deliver this Word the Lord had given him at 5:30 on the morning of April 19, 2016: “Out of White Clay will come holy sacred vessels that will take healing waters to other indigenous peoples.” As he spoke these words out, I clearly saw the face of Arley Dreamer.

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Ihanbla Wakinya – Thunder Dreamer (Arley) grew up in a typical Lakota family. He and his six brothers were raised for several years by their father when their mother left the reservation, fleeing the dysfunction of alcoholism and abuse and searching for things she felt were missing in her life in Pine Ridge. Ten years later she returned, bringing with her a newly-found faith in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The emotional damage done to her family during her absence, however, was not easily erased nor quickly healed. Like so many children – regardless of their skin color or economic status – Arley was easy prey for the enemy of his spirit and soul during those formative years.
Better known to many Whiteclay visitors as “Harley”, Arley has been a Risen Warrior on the street for all years we’ve been here. His crazy hats, wigs, masks and wildly unconventional clothing make him easy to spot on the street as he sings songs in his language while his kola (friend) Alvin Janis dances. He is a tall man with a deep resonance in his voice that commands the attention of everyone around him.  But it’s not his booming voice or the yellow yarn braids perched crookedly on top of his head that puts Arley at the center of groups of white teenagers every summer. Instead, it’s the Bible stories he shares with anyone who will sit and listen that make him a celebrity to the thousands of teens and adults alike who visit the Lakota Nation.
To say that Arley takes literary license when he recounts the stories of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist or Jonah and the whale is an understatement. In the RAV (Revised Arley Version), Jesus’ disciples are His “gang” and the whale that swallows Jonah is named “Free Willy.” And depending on how many cans of beer he’s been able to score on the street that day, seasoned students of the Word can be offended when Arley’s embellishments sneak over the line of humor into crude language and borderline blasphemy. 
Unless they’re here week after week, year after year, however, Whiteclay visitors don’t see the real man behind the masks. Most people don’t know that Arley always waits until after the group of sometimes 350 people at our N.O.A.H. evenings eat before he will fix a plate for himself. When Bruce asked him why he does that, he responded, “The chief always makes sure his people eat before he does.” They also wouldn’t know that Arley gives a staff, war club or other traditional work of art that he makes to the team leaders with whom he makes a connection during their mission trip. 
One evening this summer, Arley came early for a special event held in the arbor when the Holy Spirit prompted me to tell him about the Word from the Lord. When I read it and told him I’d seen his face when it was delivered, Arley’s response was, “Read it again.” He had me read it four times and then said, “Do you know why I tell the stories from the Bible the way I do? I do it so my People will listen. If I read it to the people on the street out of the Bible, they will just walk away. When I tell it my way, they listen and laugh, but at least they hear the message.”
Like many other men and women on the street in Whiteclay, Arley knows the Lord. His body is addicted to alcohol, but his spirit is alive with the knowledge of Jesus’ unconditional love for him and for his People. Today Arley told Abram he wants to go to treatment. I don’t know where he will be by the time you read this. It is my heart’s cry that he will be well along on the path to becoming “a holy, sacred vessel who will take healing waters to his People – the Lakota Nation – and then to other indigenous peoples.” Please stand in faith and in agreement with me that Ihanbla Wakinya – Thunder Dreamer (Arley) will become the powerful Lakota warrior God created him to be. Let it be so, Lord. Let it be so.

Written by Marsha BonFleur

Christmas Wreaths for Sale

Once again we are selling our handmade Christmas wreaths. This year we have decided rather than cutting branches off trees we will recycle artificial trees. We blend the branches from multiple styles of Christmas trees to make one beautiful wreath. Unlike last year's wreaths, these wreaths stay good year after year. All the wreaths feature a dream-catcher center and a feather. 

Why we make the wreaths

First off making wreaths employs several native men, giving them the means to provide for their families and to buy gifts for Christmas. In addition, wreath sales provide money for Lakota Hope to continue ministering to the Lakota people. 

24-28 inch wreath is for sale for $35

+ $15 shipping 

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32-36 Inch Wreath is for sale for $45

+$15 shipping

Grow2gather Exchange

Artist's Development Program Expands 

Lakota Hope is continuing in its effort to serve the Lakota people through economic development programs. Our Grow2gather program is well underway: our online store at buynebraska.com is continuing to expand and our micro-lending program is ready to launch its first round of loans for events, allowing artists to buy booth spaces, raw materials, cover related food/lodging costs, etc. for local and regional events such as fairs, art shows, and pow wows.

We will soon be launching a new part of our Grow2gather program: The Grow2gather Exchange. The Exchange will buy raw materials for artists at wholesale prices, and hopefully, take in some materials as donations. Participating artists and crafters can then buy materials with ‘points’ earned through involvement in various aspects of the program. The Grow2gather Exchange will help give our artists yet another tool to rise into self-sufficiency.

We asked the artists what materials they wanted in the store: Here is a comprehensive list of items we can use. If you would like to help us stock these items, send them (or a designated monetary gift) to Lakota Hope at:

P.O. Box 55,
Whiteclay, NE 69365.

Or you can send a designated donation through Paypal

Supplies Needed:

Beadwork

  • Glass seed beads (on shanks) sizes #10, #11, #12, #13 especially blues, yellows, black, red, white.
  • Pony Beads (glass is best plastic works too) all colors
  • Beading needle multipacks: sizes #10, #12, #13, #16
  • Beading thread: large and small spools
  • Brass cones
  • Brass beads
  • Bone hairpipe beads and spacers

Quilting

  • Needles: All sizes
  • Thread: All colors
  • Batting
  • Bias: All colors
  • Satin material: All Colors
  • Broadcloth/backing
  • Rotary cutters
  • Large cutting boards

Leatherwork

  • Leather any colors (Used leather coats, vests etc. are a great source for leather)
  • Leather needles
  • Awls
  • Sinew large and small spools’
  • Hides

2-Dimensional Art

  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paints all colors
  • Watercolor paints all colors
  • Watercolor Paper
  • Pastels
  • Fixative spray
  • Wood-burning tools

Misc.

  • Deer antlers
  • Wire Hoops: 3-4” diameter
  • Wire clothes hangers
  • Wooden dowels 1/2” to 3/4”
  • Wine Corks (used by beaders to make key chains)

Lakota Hope at the Pow-Wow

Lakota Hope is bringing local artists into the main arena at the Pow-Wow as part of our Grow2gather program. 

Lakota Hope is running a booth at the Oglala Nation Pow-Wow! (August 4-7) We are using the event to boost some of our artist's businesses and to familiarize members of the program with our program.

Our program called "Grow2gather" is an economic development program that aims to help artists turn their creativity and skills into thriving businesses. Promoting economic self-sufficiency has been a long-time focus at Lakota Hope: Bruce's initial call from God was "I want to use you along with others to bring dignity to my people, and I want you to do it through the creation of jobs" Although Bruce didn't initially know who God meant by "my people," that calling has been on his heart since the beginning. 

Our work with artists and crafters is biggest economic development project Lakota Hope has ever undertaken. We are partnering with an established Nebraska non-profit called Grow Nebraska.

Together we are connecting artists with new markets, providing training, making art supplies more accessible, and creating micro-loan programs. 

A parfleche knife by Juan Espinosa on buynebraska.com

We connect artists to two types of markets: First, we provide physical venues such as our Tuesday night programs "Night of Another Hope" or our booth at the Pow Wow. Second, we are working on getting our artists work online to sell. We are currently uploading our items to Grow Nebraska's site buynebraska.com Providing the online space to sell is crucial because artists have difficulties selling their work once the summer tourists and mission teams are gone. 

With the help of Grow Nebraska, we will be teaching business skills to some of the artists. Grow Nebraska's team will help us provide training in marketing, computer skills, and the administrative side of business. We will also be using our computer lab to facilitate GED classes. 

Another resource we will be providing artists with is a raw materials store. The stores around the Reservation over price their materials. We plan to buy wholesale beads and resell the beads to artists at a very low markup from a small store in our office. 

Finally, we have a grant that will help us set up micro-lending groups. These groups of artists will manage a small sum of money that they can loan to members of the lending group. This will open up new opportunities by allowing members to borrow money for art supplies, booth spaces at big events, etc. 

We are excited to see artists and crafters building steady businesses through our program. 

If you are in our area, stop at our booth at the Pow-Wow. If you can't make it you can still support some of our artists by buying online at buynebraska.com

If you are a Lakota artist interested in our program contact Bruce BonFleur at (308) 360-2747

 

Personal Profile - David Whiteface

This is the first post in a series of personal profiles for those on the streets in Whiteclay. We hope that series gives a new perspective on the situation in Whiteclay Each person has their own story, their own struggle, and their own dreams. 

David Whiteface - A Warrior's Return 

By Marsha Bonfleur

David has spent every day of the past four years of his life drinking on the streets of Whiteclay, but no one noticed. Unlike the other regulars on the street, David is not loud; he is not crude; he is not violent. Instead, he is a man with a quiet spirit who drinks his beer leaning against “his spot” on the fence every morning until the afternoon sun chases him across the street to his spot of shade. To the casual onlooker, David is invisible.
One Tuesday night, during our weekly N.O.A.H. dinner time, David was sitting alone with an almost empty paper plate. He isn’t someone I would usually search out, but the gentle voice of the Spirit said, “Pray for him.” I sat down next to him, fully expecting him to get up and walk away, and asked if he would like me to pray. He quickly bowed his head, and even though his baritone voice has the ability to easily be heard in a crowd, I had to strain to hear his soft reply. He simply said, “Yeah, I wanna see my son.” He went on to explain that on the day his wife was buried four years ago, he left the funeral, walked from Pine Ridge across the Nebraska border to Whiteclay and never returned. “Now I can’t go back. They won’t let me see him because I’m a drunk.”
As I put my hand on his head to pray, I felt a gentle warmth and envisioned the Holy Spirit trickling down, flooding through his body, washing away decades of hurt. I prayed that God would hear his cry, heal his ravaged body, and remove the searing pain that had held him in bondage far too long. I asked that he would be restored to his family, and that he would become the strong Lakota warrior and father God had created him to be. Trying to hide his tears, he whispered a quick, “Thanks,” and got up to leave. As I watched him walk away, God placed a confident assurance in my heart that things would never again be the same for this gentle man.
That awareness was confirmed a few weeks later when an acquaintance from Tulsa felt led to stop by unexpectedly for a visit. He was on a tight schedule but took the time to walk the street and pray with our Warriors. Quite unexpectedly he called to say that he was taking one of the men to City-County Detox in Rapid City. It wasn’t until later that evening that I learned the man he took to treatment was David. Suddenly, I knew that although he was invisible to the rest of the world, his Creator had never lost sight of David.
During the next week, I spoke with David, his detox counselor, and the intake coordinator at a nearby¬¬ 30-day treatment facility several times each day. Every form was completed, every test was checked and double-checked; every provision was made to ensure a seamless transition from detox to treatment. When he arrived, however, he was denied entrance. It was at that moment I realized that David was indeed no longer invisible – he was on Satan’s radar as well. 
The past several months have been grueling as we’ve fought to get David a birth certificate, a tribal ID number and a social security number. To date, we have been able to secure everything he needs in order to be admitted to treatment except his social security card; it has been months since we sent in the paperwork. Just when God knew he needed encouragement, however, David’s 12 year-old son’s guardian brought him to Whiteclay – it was the first time they’d seen each other since the funeral four years ago. This has made David’s resolve unshakable. Every time he sees me checking the mail, he waits, and every time I have to tell him it hasn’t arrived, he says, “I hope it comes tomorrow. I gotta get outta here.” David’s prayer is to be able to raise his son to be a football player, to go to college, to have a life-sustaining job – all the things he’d hoped his life would be.
We firmly believe that God will make a way where there seems to be no way for David. We firmly believe that God is lining up every circumstance; that on exactly the right day David’s social security card will arrive and that he will be admitted to the right detox/treatment facility. We firmly believe that David will then be able to return to be a father to his son. We firmly believe that God will restore David to be the strong, Lakota warrior He created him to be – a man who will stand for and lead others to know Jesus as their Savior.

Would you please add your prayers with ours and stand firm with us in confident assurance until that day?