PINE RIDGE, S.D. — Members of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, who received aid from Divine Spark founder Thomas Streicher, offered reaction to news of the Nevada City man’s death in a Sunday car crash in Wyoming.
Streicher, 58, lost control of his van on an icy Interstate 80 Friday while returning from Pine Ridge to his home in Nevada City, Calif. The Highway Patrol said Streicher, a Nevada City resident, was thrown from the van when it rolled and died en route to a hospital.
He began making several trips a year to Pine Ridge starting in 2002, after meeting someone from the reservation and learning about its struggles with poverty.
Regina Brave, 72, of Oglala, told the Rapid City Journal that Streicher once brought her a sewing machine, and he brought one of her family members a crib mattress. For Thanksgiving, Streicher, who liked to be called Tomas, would fill his van with turkeys.
“He had all the seats taken out and he loaded it as much as he could with clothing, fabrics, furniture,” she said.
Streicher traveled 1,250 miles each way when making deliveries to the reservation. The Lakota Sioux gave him something he didn’t find anywhere else, said his daughter, Kristie Streicher.
“He became very close and was really drawn to the Native American spiritual essence,” she said.
Streicher took his experiences from Pine Ridge and shared them wherever he went. He would perform Native American ceremonies at Divine Spark holiday events in California. At a book-signing last week in New York City, Streicher led the audience in a ceremonial meditation.
In Nevada City, Streicher handed out food vouchers to the homeless and served hot meals through his nonprofit, Divine Spark.
Cheryl Zellers, who produces Divine Spark’s newsletter, said Streicher’s journeys across the interior West always worried her.
“Oftentimes, I would email him to be safe coming home,” she said. “I always thought, that’s a long drive alone with a big van.”
Zellers said in a statement to The Union that many folks have concern and desire to continue the efforts of Divine Spark and the late Streicher’s efforts with caring for the homeless and that a there are plans to hand out food, vouchers and other services on Sunday.
“(A) memorial and meal has been planned for Easter Sunday at The Veterans’ Hall in Nevada City — (the exact) time to be announced (later),” Zellers said. “This meal is initiated by the family of Tomas and is supported by friends and helpers of Divine Spark.”