It has been a wonderful summer and fall for Native American/Indigenous Ministry. I have been honored to visit many congregations and camps this summer including Church of the Good Shepherd, Fort Hall, Idaho; Niobrara Convocation, Sisseton, S.D.; Thunderhead Episcopal Camp, Lead, S.D.; Camp Gabriel, Standing Rock, N.D.; and Church of the Epiphany, Kivalina, Alaska.
In these travels I have met many dedicated lay ministers and priests. In Fort Hall, Idaho, I was impressed by the young leadership of Senior Warden Ron Braman, who has brought his music education to Church of the Good Shepherd in the form of organ and piano music.
At the Niobrara Convocation, the Rev. Chris Johnson and I brought news of our Poverty Alleviation work to many leaders. After which, Niobrara agreed to send representatives to our overview joint training in White Earth, Minn. One question that still rings in my memory is elder Fr. Les Campbell asking me if I supported language and culture in schools. I responded that “Yes, I do. I would love to see the Episcopal Church support those teachings in response to what happened at boarding schools, but that is not up to me. The people need to call for it.”
I was grateful to take my sons to both camps at Camp Gabriel and Thunderhead Episcopal camps in the Dakotas. I am impressed by the volunteers and the dedication of the youth ministers, many of whom are young adults. One of my favorite memories is riding down the river in a kayak past eagles’ nests with many youth on Standing Rock. In the Blacks Hills at Thunderhead Episcopal Camp, I was overjoyed to see the partnership between North Dakota and South Dakota for youth ministry.
I visited Kivalina, Alaska in August as The Episcopal Church develops a documentary on the plight of the Inupiat struggling against climate change causing island erosion and water pollution. There I met a young Episcopalian woman teaching traditional songs and dances to the youth seven days a week for two hours. To feel the beat of the hand drum and learn the Ladies Welcoming Dance was incredible.
Next summer, my visits will occur in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa areas. As the Episcopal Youth Event will be held in Minnesota many meetings have and will be scheduled around this event. If you have areas you would like me to come to I am more than happy to do so if possible.
I ask the people to call for what you need to my office and the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries (ECCIM). ECCIM will be drafting resolutions soon for the next General Convention in 2012. It is imperative that we begin the process of determining critical resolutions to address issues now. ECCIM will be meeting next February and will call for reports from Diocesan/Area Councils of Native American Ministry. This will become a part of normal practice for ECCIM in attempt to have better communication with councils.
We have many new bishops in Native American Ministry in the last year including the Rt. Rev. Brian Prior of Minnesota, the Rt. Rev. John Tarrant of South Dakota, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime of Alaska, the Rt. Rev. Dave Bailey of Navajoland and the Rt. Rev. Michael Vono of Rio Grande. Many areas have formed partnerships including South Dakota and North Dakota, as well as Navajoland and the Rio Grande. It has been my great honor to assist many Bishops in their ministry and look forward to long collaborative relationships with these Area Missions/Dioceses.
The 2010 Oklahoma Consultation occurred during Memorial Weekend in Sewanee, Tenn. with close to 90 participants from across the nation and internationally. The Plenary Descriptions included: Opening Plenary- Introductions & Pathway to OK IV by the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor; “Remembrance looking Back” by former NAM Missioner Owanah Anderson; The Doctrine of Discovery: A Creative Presentation; “The Present” by myself; “Recognition Looking at Our Present” with a panel featuring the Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher, and “Aoteearo” Reflection by Hone Kaa. The event was developed by the Indigenous Theological Training Institute, who plans to have a full report out by January. In the mean time, please check out http://www.okiv2010.com/index.html for more information.
In our work on General Convention resolution A155: “To Develop a Program to Alleviate Poverty” partnerships with Asset Based Community Development and White Bison, Inc; have been formed. The first convening of Native American leadership occurred in Province VI on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota from October 8-12.
The 42 participants attending represented:
•Seven teams from the Dioceses of North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota.
•Also included were stakeholders outside Province VI, from Navajoland Area Mission, Utah, Virginia, and the Diocese of Olympia who will serve as ambassadors to their regions to promote future gatherings focused on local community development initiatives.
The program incorporated resources for Faith Formation, Asset Based Community Development and The White Bison Movement. Together this focus reflected a comprehensive commitment by “the Episcopal Church [to] establish a community development initiative in Native People’s communities in the new triennium.” “…[A] community development initiative [that would] emerge from the visions and voices of the local Native People’s communities, address community development opportunities using asset-based community development models, identify key federal, state, and local advocacy issues and access the abundant human and financial resources of The Episcopal Church.”
While we note that “the mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ,” we go about doing this work of reconciliation as we live into our Baptismal covenant, which compels us to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and [to] respect the dignity of every human being.” Through its focus on cultural based healing, this poverty alleviation initiative is honors the visions and voices of our people as we discern together healthy paths that lead towards positive community development in our local contexts. The people left White Earth prepared to share their hopes and ideas within their local tribal councils, as well as committed to engaging a process that can transform life as it is known into lives that are in harmony with the Creator and creation as it is intended.
We have already heard back that the Episcopal Church of Navajoland unanimously approved the trainings to occur in their area mission. We hope to hear back from councils in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota very soon.
Registration is now open for Wintertalk 2011which will be held Jan. 15-18, 2010 in Albuquerque, N.M. and co-hosted by the Episcopal Church of Navajoland and the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Each diocese is invited to send participants, both elder/adult, young adult and youth. We particularly encourage anyone with community organizing and leadership experience to attend as we update progress on Domestic Poverty Alleviation work and follow up on the 2010 Oklahoma Consultation.
Theme: It’s Our Time…
•To teach and learn our own history (stories)
•To remember our relationship with the Creator
•To share our strengths and our faith with each other
•To move from being in an impoverished state of existence
•To tap into what is available in our communities
•To become much more visible in the Church
•To become more proactive in raising up and supporting leaders from our communities
Additionally, as part of our work with Domestic Poverty Alleviation, we will offer two training before and after Wintertalk 2011 both open to neighboring dioceses. They are: Asset Based Community Development Training on Friday & Saturday, January 14 &15, 2011 (8 am – 5 pm); and White Bison “Families of Tradition” Training on Tuesday (afternoon) – Friday (morning), January 18-21, 2011. The registration website is http://events.SignUp4.com/wintertalk2011. Meghan Ritchie at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City will be assisting with the travel logistics and can be reached at 800-334-7626 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration will close on December 10, 2010.
Finally, Red Digital Circles of networking are continuing with Youth Ministry, Young Adults, and Women’s Ministry. Please email me for more information at email@example.com.