By Sarah Eagle Heart

Cante Waste ya Nape Ciyu zape ye (I greet you from my heart). This morning my Oglala Lakota grandmother called me upset because a group of people in Martin, South Dakota (a town bordered by Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Rosebud Indian Reservation) intend to bring back the “Warrior Homecoming Ceremony” at Bennett County High School. To hear this news is deeply unsettling, as I believed we had come far in cultural understanding, only to see we are back where we began. But then again tribal nations, along with many secular and non-profit organizations, are still protesting the NFL team Redskins. So this leaves me joining with other voices in explaining why.

This so-called “Warrior Homecoming Ceremony” was 57 years old when my twin sister Emma Eagle Heart-White and I began a protest in 1994 (at that time, we used the paternal side of family’s name of Trimble). The “ceremony” consisted of a “Big Chief”, a “Medicine Man” and five “Warrior Princesses” who were chosen as the most popular in a high school racially divided between native and non-native students. The majority of those living in the town were non-native. We grew up in an Oglala Lakota tribal housing community called LaCreek Sunrise Housing, located a mile outside of the town of 1100 people.

We attended Bennett County schools all of our lives. We were very involved in extra-curricular activities, including band, choir and cheerleading. At the time of our junior year in high school, we watched the “homecoming ceremony” drama play out in which the “Medicine Man” chooses a “Warrior Princess” for the “Big Chief” by inspecting her ears, mouth, hair, clothing and weight. The “Medicine Man” wore men’s traditional regalia complete with a roach and eagle feather bustle. The “Big Chief” wore a war bonnet. At sixteen years old, we knew this event was wrong and we knew no one else would do anything about this sexist and culturally degrading event. We knew we had to.


In early 1994, we began researching ways to protest. We began by telling people about the event. We went on KILI radio and told the story to Indian Country Today. We found that because the community was so racially segregated, neighboring tribal communities had no idea of the event. Soon, tribal groups came to support our protest. By September 1994, the racially divided town was racially charged and we received threats of violence as the homecoming approached. Still, we felt spiritually called to end this event.

We held an educational forum in the town park cumulating with a peaceful protest down main street to the auditorium where the “homecoming ceremony”. We formed a circle around the audience, holding hands the people chanted until we were kicked out by police officers for disturbing the peace.

As college students, we returned to the small town annually for four years to protest. Finally in 1997, Bennett County High School Board voted to remove stereotypical “Indian Theme” from the Homecoming Coronation Ceremony. Bennett County High School Board requested a meeting with us. At that board meeting they informed us of their decision to discontinue the “Homecoming Ceremony” immediately and to phase out the mascot in the next few years. The school still has not phased out the mascot.

It is now 2014, when I tell this story today many are aghast that its actual history in this lifetime. But on the other side, almost twenty years later, there is still ignorance about why this protest happened in the first place. As well as why there are protests against “Redskins” NFL football team today.

In my career I have worked for military assistance programs in Pensacola, Florida; advertising at Viejas Casino in San Diego; and today I work as a Program Officer/Missioner for Indigenous Ministry of The Episcopal Church. I have been very blessed to travel the world personally and professionally to learn about cultural perspectives in Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, France, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and Venezuela. And yet, Martin, South Dakota will always be my home.

I have witnessed the impact of colonization and the crucial need for healing. While our history as a nation is complex, just as our history as a church is complex, in 2009 The Episcopal Church (along with many other denominations) have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery acknowledging the wrong in Manifest Destiny. Earlier this year, several denominations passed resolutions in support of tribal nations effort to discontinue “widespread exploitation, misuse and abuse of the cultures, symbols, identities, personalities and spirituality of individuals, tribes and nations… by some popular sports franchises”. Today, many denominations have dedicated their work to reconciliation and education, including advocating for accurate American Indian history education in all schools with revitalization of language and culture of American Indians.

Working with clergy, tribal leaders, and counselors actively combatting issues related to poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, violence and suicide in Indian Country has taught me something else… ignorance is directly related to these epidemics.

People who are ignorant to our history as a nation do not understand the impact these “Indian Themed” fantasies have on our people. They do not understand “playing Indian” as either an ugly pig-faced “Red Skin” or a sexually objectified “Warrior Princess” not only insults our proud tribal histories and culture today, but also denigrates the self – esteem of our native youth. It shows all indigenous people, we are not human to you. It shows us you don’t believe we deserve respect, nor do you wish to learn an accurate history, because the truth hurts.

Today we live in an instant gratification society where everything is fast paced… and we want everything yesterday. It takes time to learn about history and culture. It takes time to build relationships with spiritual leaders and tribal communities. It takes times to being invited to experience traditional tribal ceremonies.

Yet I’ve seen it done. I’ve seen non-native clergy working in tribal communities with tribal elders to teach all youth tribal creation stories. I’ve seen native and non-native clergy working with tribal leaders and elders to tell accurate histories as a way to reconcile past wrongs. I’ve seen these true leaders working together to better their communities and build partnerships for shared goals. One major goal is to keep our youth alive, help them to celebrate their identity, and teach the youth to walk on their own spiritual path.

We are not living in the past anymore. It’s time to live in the present. It’s time to face the past, heal through education, and walk hand in hand for a better community today.

Mitakuye Oyasin (All my relations).


I have been a devotee of Brene Brown for almost two years now. I share with all leaders, the importance of being authentic and the strength in being vulnerable. It’s so important in all aspects of life, but especially for leaders.

We are entrenched in world that is combative with leaders. People with pre-conceived ideas and expectations of others…when you can’t live up to their idea of perfect, you are hit over the head with attacking words. I cannot tell you how many times people come to me with their stories of how they were hurt by attacks from those they most wanted acceptance from. Whether it was an elder, priest, friend, family member, boss or tribal leader… I tell these people you need to follow where the Creator is calling you. I tell them, most often these people are hurt and angry. Do not react in kind, but be the person you were called to be.

My hope is that every person, but especially those in leadership roles, seek out healing for themselves. This comes in a variety of ways:  pastoral care, White Bison, Wellbriety, traditional spirituality, spiritual direction, therapy, etc. Whatever works for you. The idea is to be able to be honest with yourself and others. Be imperfect. Be authentic. Be vulnerable. Be you.

Brene Brown calls vulnerability, “The courage to show up and be seen.” She says, “If you’re going to lead a courageous life you’re going to get your butt kicked. Faith is the organizing principle in my life.” Probably would surprise you to know she’s an Episcopalian.


The other faithful people I know as I travel to various circles are tribal leaders and spiritual leaders. I am honored to meet those with deep faith, when I least expect it. They will tell me their prayers when they hear of my job. Recently, I sat next to Cherokee Medicine Elder Crosslin Smith at the Reservation Economic Summit. It was the most moving 15 minutes of my time as he reinforced the lessons I’ve been learning from vulnerability. He shared a piece of his opening prayer for Reservation Economic Summit, “Stand alone with your spirit. Stand as a creation, not a race. When you accomplish this, you have become one with the strongest thing ever in this world. The spirit that lives in your body. The spirit will communicate for you. It will go back from which in came. In that interchange you will receive a divine blessing and a divine sense. Once this divine blessings is bestowed upon you, you should be a very proud creation. You should be very happy.”

To stand alone with yourself in honesty and truth, is to be vulnerable and is the ultimate form of courage. Brene Brown says, “I am faithful to courage. I will live in the torture chamber of the question. My mantra is:  if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, then I’m not interested in your opinion.” I agree. Heal yourself. Then tell me what you think in respect, love and truth.


ImageDear Relatives,

Cante Waste ya Nape Ciyu zape ye. I greet you from my heart. As we approach Easter and springtime amidst the many various Lenten disciplines I’m sure you have devoted yourself to, I pray you and your loved ones are well. Lent is a time of reflection and learning, it is fitting that most of Lent I’ve spent my time devoted to sharing the experiences of Indigenous Women with Violence, nationally and internationally at the United Nations, through the Lens of Doctrine of Discovery.

Last Thursday, women across America celebrated the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This law includes programmatic support for Native survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault; with constitutionally sound tribal jurisdiction provisions authorizing tribal governments to prosecute non-Indian defendants involved with intimate relationships on tribal land. Prior to the enactment of this law, federal laws did not authorize tribal law enforcement or tribal courts to pursue any form of prosecution or justice against these perpetrators.

This law was passed with a myriad of passionate voices joining together calling their elected representatives, tweeting and Facebook advocating their stories for protections for LGBT, tribal, campus and immigrant victims as well as taking the next steps to improve our nation’s response to rape and prevent domestic violence homicides. The Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) called our membership to a coordinated action ( and I shared my own story with the Episcopal Church and larger community through an EPPN blog post: Wopila! Thank you!

Currently, women from across the world are at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 57 (UNCSW) advocating on the theme: “”Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.“ They are sharing their stories, providing workshops, teaching best practices, and lifting each other up through this movement. The Episcopal Church works with the Anglican United Nations Office joining Ecumenical Women, an international coalition of church denominations and ecumenical organizations which have status with the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations (

I have attended United Nations events since 2008 and it’s my great honor to be able to connect devoted and dedicated indigenous advocates at the United Nations. The Office of Indigenous Ministry has partnered with the Native American Council of Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati to co-sponsor delegations to the UNCSW and also the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) for the past 3 years. Together, we have accomplished action that follows our pursuit for reconciliation, justice and peace.

Last May, we coordinated a joint advocacy effort on the UNPFII theme:  “Doctrine of Discovery” with a panel including: Sarah Augustine from Mennonite Central Committee, Cheryl Kennedy Chairwoman of the Grand Ronde Nation, Law Professor Robert Miller and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church. This panel was sponsored by the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, the World Council of Churches, the Mennonite Central Committee, the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, The Grail (an international women’s movement), the Gray Panthers, U.F.E.R. – International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples, Suriname Indigenous Health Fund, the NGO Committee on the U.N. International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the Salvation Army, the World Christian Student Federation, and Office of the Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations. For more information on this panel, please read

The Episcopal Church also supported two conference papers at the 11th Sessesion of the UNPFII including: The Doctrine of Discovery: The International Law of Colonialism, and Conference Room Paper on the Doctrine of Discovery, presented by the Haudenosaunee, the American Indian Law Alliance and the Indigenous Law Institute, North America. To learn more about our coordinated effort, please read here:

This year, the UNCSW delegation has included women from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Women who have devoted their ministry to advocating on Environmental and Violence issues through the Lens of the Doctrine of Discovery, coordinating with Ecumenical Women, Anglican Women’s Empowerment, The Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion, and Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indígenas – FIMI/International Indigenous Women’s Forum – IIWF. This year’s delegates all have experience working with Violence Against Women in their communities and they will post their stories throughout the week at

This week I reflect upon the strength and wisdom of the White Buffalo Calf Women, who brought the sacred pipe and teachings to the Oceti Sakowin (the seven council fires) of the L/N/Dakota people, and the story of faith by the saint Perpetua and her companions. I thank the many individuals who continue to connect around common goals through faith and spirituality to advocate on behalf of our indigenous people and the many people around the world struggling with violence.

Pilamayaye, Sarah

Dear relatives,

As you can see from this newsletter (, we have done much together in the last six months. I am truly grateful for all of the partners in ministry, as none of this could’ve happened without you. Together we look toward the next triennium of Indigenous Ministry with open hearts and open minds, continuing our work on building our communities together.

Every three years, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passes resolutions that prioritize our work. These resolutions are implemented by various offices, committees, and ministries of the Episcopal Church. The 77th General Convention was a time of transition for the Episcopal Church and this transition was also felt in Indigenous Ministries. Even that name, “Indigenous Ministries,” is a transition. We have opened our ministry to our relatives in Province 9; this new relationship was confirmed through resolutions and the new appointment of a Quechua priest from the Diocese of Central Ecuador to the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministry.

As you read the Doctrine of Discovery Lament offering from our Quechua brother the Rev. Eulogio Quito, you will see our struggles and our triumphs have been the same. Our similar struggle by being a people that has suffered colonization by the church we love, is the same. This church we continue to love and reconcile with because we have always known there is one Creator God. As we move forward, we will learn even more from each other and be a partner in networking with our Quechua relatives throughout the church.

This General Convention also brought a change to the funding for Indigenous Theological Training through Resolution A133. This resolution expands this work to:

“leaders in the Episcopal Church – those called to lay and ordained leadership at the following institutions: Niobrara School for Ministry, Hooghan Learning Circle, North Dakota School for Ministry, David Salmon School for Ministry, Father Paul Mather School for Ministry of the Diocese of Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Navajoland Area Mission, and the Indigenous Theological Training Institute, as well as Indigenous training for Province IX and other areas the Episcopal Church’s jurisdiction. Funding is to be under direction and supervision of the office of Indigenous Ministry of the Episcopal Church.”

Resolution A133 gives the responsibility of implementing the work around Indigenous Theological Training solely to my office. After much prayer and consultation, I have determined an Application for Funding Process for “Established Episcopal Indigenous Theological Training Organizations” to seek funding. Applicants will be required to respond to the 5 Marks of Mission with priority given to partnerships. The Application for Funding will be released on March 1, 2013, closing on April 1, 2013, with awards announced on April 15, 2013.

Due to decreased resources, I have also had to re-envision what a churchwide event like Wintertalk will look like. Holding churchwide intergenerational events like this is important to networking our church ministries, and can only be done through partnership. It is my hope that dioceses and provinces will come together to assist with funding one intergenerational churchwide Wintertalk every three years. On other years, Wintertalk will focus on specific ministries.

The 2013 Winteralk will be held at St. Crispin’s Conference Center in Wewoka, Oklahoma, February 17-20, 2013. The 2013 Wintertalk will focus on re-enforcing youth ministry training from Strong Heart Ministries (Indigenous Youth Ministry) and advocacy training from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Women. Each diocese will be invited to send two individuals who are leaders in these areas, preferably from the same community. The nearby dioceses will be encouraged to carpool participants and will be invited to bring additional leaders depending upon availability. The maximum participation is 50 attendees. Registration will open on January 3, 2013. Each participant will be required to submit an article or video for the Waters newsletter and blog to share best practices.

For more information on Indigenous Ministry and General Convention resolutions, please go to:

My prayers are with you for a wonderful Advent season.

Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all related),
Sarah Eagle Heart, missioner for Indigenous Ministry

Virginia Theological Seminary Sermon – November 28, 2012
Observance of the Full Communion Accord between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church
Psalm 131 & 132
Zechariah 13:1-9
Luke 19:11-27

Anpetu Waste my good friends. Good Morning, my Lakota name is Wanbli Sina Win or Eagle Shawl Woman. I am Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

I admit had a very hard time relating to the readings of Luke 19: 11-27 as a Lakota Christian.

I know, I know… in a general sense you could say WELL they were speaking of servant-hood. RIGHT? Yeah, I guess so. But to me THIS type servant-hood was done in all the wrong ways. JUST MY PERSONAL OPINION.

I can relate more to the bigger picture in the beginning of Luke 19, where Jesus pardoning a sinner Zacchaeus who displayed COURAGE to climb a sycamore tree over the thick crowd to see Jesus. He was rewarded by Jesus going to his home. Zaccheaus promises to give half of his possessions to the poor, and repay it four times over anyone he has extorted anything from. Luke 19:9, “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

LOST can be interpreted in a variety of ways, as well as SIN and in both passages are seeking salvation in two VERY different ways. Yet the last verse of Luke 19:26 has the KING calling his servants to BRING THOSE ENEMIES OF MINE WHO DIDN’T ME TO BE KING…BRING THEM HERE AND KILL THEM IN FRONT OF ME.

WOW… kill them in front of me. Today we can barely imagine what that must be like. Yet, this has occurred in our history of Church. MOSTLY, these readings reminded me of how wrong man can be. And how wrong intentions and actions can be interpreted.

If you look in history you see this same violence played out, in the name of God, countless times. The Doctrine of Discovery, or Manifest Destiny, in the 19th century gave the government and churches the “inherent right to conquer and rule”. This Doctrine was also the justification for expanding beyond the Louisiana Territory, justified the War with Mexico, and even justified slavery…besides pardoning the GENOCIDE of Native Americans through massacres and executions.

One of the most significant, historical and largest US mass execution was the Hanging of the 38 Dakota Indians in Mankato, Minnesota on December 26, 1862. As we approach Advent, a time I cherish…I also remember that December 26, 2012 will mark the 150th Anniversary of this day where Abraham Lincoln initially condemned 303 Dakota and Ojibwe Indians to death. Death by hanging for the crimes of theft resulting from desperate people confined to reservations by the government as they faced starvation.

A little known fact is Episcopal Bishop Henry Whipple, intervened writing to Abraham Lincoln, as well as coming here to Washington, DC to plead for their lives. Lincoln reviewed the cases and reduced the condemned to 38. HOWEVER you may be a surprised to learn that of the 38 executed, 37 were baptized. As they walked to their death, they sang a Christian Hymn in the Dakota Language.

Hymnal #385
1. Many and great, O God, are thy works,
maker of earth and sky;
thy hands have set the heavens with stars;
thy fingers spread the mountains and plains.
Lo, at thy word the waters were formed;
deep seas obey thy voice.

2. Grant unto us communion with thee,
thou star abiding one;
come unto us and dwell with us;
with thee are found the gifts of life.
Bless us with life that has no end,
eternal life with thee.

Everytime I hear this hymn I think of these men…condemned to death and singing their death song…a Christian hymn as they were BROUGHT TO BE KILLED IN FRONT OF thousands of CHRISTIANS…the day after Christmas, 1862.

But this isn’t the only evidence of an mass killing right after Christmas…On the morning of December 29, 1890… troops from the US 7th Cavalry came to disarm the Lakota on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. One version of events claims a deaf tribesman was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry’s opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing many unarmed men, women, and children as they fled. By the time it was over, at least 150 Lakota men, women, and children had been killed…some estimates placed the number of dead closer to 300. The dead lay on the plains for 3 days, as a blizzard came. When the snowing ended, they were gathered and buried in a mass grave at Wounded Knee. One of the most chilling images is one of these troopers posing in front of the open grave with their guns. At least twenty troopers were awarded the coveted Medal of Honor for their part in this event.


So yes…everything I was taught is the exact opposite of Luke 19:11-27. As a Lakota I was taught to value:
1) Wacante Oganake, “To help, to share, to give, to be generous.”
2) Wowa-unsila, “Pity, Compassion.”
3) Wowauo-nihan, “To Repect, to Honor.”
4) Wowa-cin-tanka, “Patience and Tolerance.”
5) Wowah-wala, “To be Humble, To Seek Humility.”
6) Woohi-tike, “To be Guided By Your Principles, Disciplined, Bravery and Courage.”
7) Woksape, “Understanding and Wisdom.”

We must remember our values, even in the most dire of times. We must also remember our church has a past. A past that SHOULD NOT be forgotten, a past that STILL LIVES with us today. A past that had led to many contemporary issues Native Americans face today due to poverty.

Like Zaccheaus, we know we are all sinners in some way or another… as we move forward as Christians we also seek SALVATION through the Son of Man and knowledge…and then we are no longer LOST. In contrast, Native Americans would say they were never LOST.

So this week after Thanksgiving, we can give thanks for that we are not ignorant of these events… we can give thanks for our church’s repentance for the Doctrine of Discovery… we can give thanks for those who have COURAGE to open their minds to the truth so they can continue to heal a people still struggling with this outright WRONG done to their ancestors… we can give thanks for our partnerships in ministry in dioceses and with our relationship of full communion with the ELCA through our “COMMON MISSION”. This mission includes a partnership with projects surrounding poverty beginning to address this injustice to Native Americans, and many others.

Psalm 132 cries out “Lord, remember David…and all the hardships he endured…” And so as we begin Advent, we remember those ancestors who displayed COURAGE in the face of death singing their death song. We remember those children, who became my great-grandparents, who continued to uphold their culture to the next generation so that together, as servants of one Creator Tunkasila, we can move forward with wisdom and compassion.

Pilamaya, Mitakuye Oyasin. Thank you, all my relations. AMEN.

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 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 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 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

Mitakuye Oyasin.
Pilamaya, Sarah

I never dreamed I would be north of the Bering Straight… 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. That’s what I think as we fly along the coast of the Arctic Ocean and see colors I’ve never seen before. They are right, it is beautiful. I remember a question stated rhetorically, “How can you not believe in God when you see places like this?” They are right… our Creator is here.
View of Kivalina from the airplane
I arrived in Kivalina, Alaska in 6 seater airplane and was immediately greeted by Belle. They threw my suitcase on hood of the four-wheeler and told me to jump on the back…so I did…holding on while she flew over bumps like they were nothing. She immediately took me to the McQueen School to find Lynette Wilson, an Episcopal reporter and colleague. Lynette is here with a film crew to tell the story of Kivalina, an Inupiat village struggling to survive while climate change erodes their small island. I am here to meet the people.
Along the beach of Kivalina
Everyone greets me with “Welcome to Kivalina” and smiles. This is something that makes me homesick for South Dakota, where people wave and smile, as you drive by them on the highway. I miss that about being rural areas. In Los Angeles, you’re lucky if someone allows you to merge into the interstate without a honk and don’t expect an “excuse me” at the grocery store either when you are cut off by a shopping cart. Here, people ask your name and children call it from a distance as they play.
Kivalina Village
I walked around the island and saw many homes resembling reservations homes “in the lower 48”. I feel comfortable and at home. It is 50 degrees outside and I intently open my eyes to truly see the village. As a Missioner, I am here to learn and to see how The Episcopal Church can help the people through resource development, grants or networking.

Nearly 400 Inupiat people live on the 1.9 square foot island. The people hunt the bowhead whale, hunt local animals like caribou, and pick berries in the summer. The people are all very busy now preparing for winter.   Lynette and I walk to the cemetery which is next to airfield.  This is somewhere I immediately wanted to see after flying over. It reminds me of my great-grandmother and the cemetery outside Allen, South Dakota at Inestimable Gift Episcopal Mission where my family is buried. All the crosses are wooden with a background of the lagoon and Brooks Mountains in the distance. You can tell people really loved those who entered larger life.
Kivalina Cemetary
Later in the afternoon, I walk along the sea wall. I am reflecting on why I am there. Praying for guidance. I draw a heart in the sand, not something I usually do in the lower 48, then three Inupiat girls run up to me. They are sweet and friendly. The smallest one sings me a song. They take photos and run off to jump on their four-wheeler. Yes I think, they are why I’m here.

The sea wall has cost 16 million dollars to build to protect their community. Due to climate change, the 30 foot ice wall that usually forms in the fall now only forms to a fraction of its size. Their 1.9 mile island is now eroding away. The water storage where the people stored food for the winter is not staying as cold as in the past, their stored food often rots. Now remember, this is a community where all food has to be flown in at exorbitantly high prices. The majority of the people live below the poverty line, so even if they could afford food in the community store, most of it is processed junk food. Sadly, I did not see fresh fruit or vegetables being sold.

In the 1870s, missionaries began to flow into Alaska, and as in most cases in religious history, the missionaries forced the people to stop teaching traditional songs and dances to the youth. So I am surprised to come upon the community center where I hear drums and singing. I walk inside and see one young woman, 25-year-old Christina Swan, directing about dozen teenagers and youth, with another dozen watching.

It is amazing to see so many learning their traditional songs and dances.

They practice for two hours a day, seven days a week. I think the Smithsonian Magazine article is right, a youth renaissance is hitting the seventh generation (
Kivalina Young People
Christina tells me immediately that she had a dream a year ago that instructed her to teach songs and dances. She says she never thought it would be her because when she was young, she was wild. Christina now has a five-year old daughter who know all of the songs and dances. She tells me a year ago she paid, out of her own pocket, for two Kotzbue traditional singers and dancers to fly out to teach them. Her mother, Colleen Swan, tells me Christina was so determined and I can tell she is very proud of her daughter. Christina says some in the community doubted them, even worried that they might embarrass the village… but they learned over 30 songs and dances in two months and performed at a regional competition. She says this proudly with a huge smile on her face.

I tell her I believe in dreams.

When God calls you, he calls you immediately. Christina whole heartedly agrees with a I-can’t-believe-it-either shrug and wide grin. Again, I think… God is here.

Movie director Chris Eyre, in a Smithsonian article says, “There is calling not taught in religion, it’s in one’s heart.” I agree that the calling is in the heart, however today the Episcopal Church strives to teach the calling of the heart. The Episcopal Church officially calls this the very stuffy term of “Formation”; defined as: a life long process providing continuous and consistent formational education and experiences. The foundation of scripture, tradition, and reason weave together all generations through the telling of individual stories, the community story, and the great story.” My colleague, Ruth Ann Collins, Formation and Vocation Officer, says she wished years ago formation was titled “Transformation”. I agree with that too. Then people would understand it’s not about the church “forming” anyone. The Episcopal Church of today provides the resources and opportunities for one to learn how to individually transform their heart. To listen to their calling whatever it may be.

Christina is Episcopalian and a traditional Inupiat.

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

Frustrated! I scream inside my mind. Sadness pulls at my heart. Despair cries to my soul. Do they know what they say? Do they know what to do?

As a mother, I think how must I show them?

As a sister, I hold you in my heart. As a daughter, I whisper in your ear………the time is now!

I think of Jesus as a little boy in Luke’s gospel…running to the teachers in Jerusalem. How frightened his parents must have been. Up for 3 days, tired and scared. Their parents full of anxiety and despair. Finding him in the temple only for him to say “why were you searching for me? Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?”

Oh the children! Such gentle souls. Close to God. Full of faith. I think of them now growing up in this world. The issues are endless. There is never enough time. And I too grow weary. But Christ Jesus calls to my heart and whispers THE TIME IS NOW!

As a child, I grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, near a white border town, full of racial tension. Fatherless. Seven years later, Motherless. Taken in by my grandmother after several failed attempts by my mother to be a mother. Feeling this enormous anxiety to care for my twin sister, younger by 14 minutes, and my little brother who was always pulled in multiple directions by my alcoholic mother. I did what I could. Always filled with anxiety. A child should not have to feel like that. At that age is also time Lakota children have their naming ceremonies. I was named, “Wanbli Sina Win”, Eagle Shawl Woman. I often wondered why I received that name. My sister was called, “Wanbli Wiyaka Win”…Eagle Feather Woman. We are named through prayer either by our grandparents or the medicine men. We were named by our great grandmother, Emma Brave Hawk, a prominent lay leader in the Episcopal Church on our reservation.

Our people say, twins are sacred. Really never meant much to me. I was just a young girl trying my hardest to shield my brother and sister from the harsh realities of a drunken mother and her very lost friends. So it seems my Lakota name Wanbli Sina Win fits perfectly.

Later, my sister and I went on to protest our high school’s homecoming “ceremony”. Complete with high schoolers dressed up like a Big Chief, Medicine Man, and 5 warrior princesses. The warrior princesses chosen by the medicine man with a look in their mouth, a glance in the ear, and a check of their weight. Ending with a dramatic show of her as a gift to the big chief.

Now I know many of you do not know the traditions of many Indigenous peoples, much less that of the Oglala Lakota. And just because June watched something similar on the Kenya television reruns of “Little House on the Prairie”, does not make it so.

So I tell you now this was not a ceremony that ever happened, at any time, by our people. We were raised on Lakota values of…

WA Canto Gnaka, the Lakota word for generosity, means to contribute to the well-being of one’s people and all life by sharing and giving freely. This sharing is not just of objects and possessions, but of emotions like sympathy, compassion, kindness.

WO Tita KUye, or kinship, relating to one of the important values of extended family or tiyospaye. Including the ideas of living in harmony and belonging. Family is the measure of your wealth. They will support you in good times and in bad times.

WA Cinta KA, or fortitude, means facing danger or challenges with courage, strength and confidence. Believing in oneself allows a person to face challenges. Fortitude includes the ability to come to terms with problems, to accept them and to find a solution that is good for everyone.

WO Ksa Pe, or Wisdom: Knowledge and wisdom of the old is very important for Lakotas. It has to do with understanding and living the spiritual values and beliefs in the culture and being able to share these with others. Wisdom means being able to incorporate the sacred way of life into one’s own life and to respect and honor all life. It means being open to the dreams of day and night, when spiritual direction may come.

So I suppose it was inevitable that my sister and I would sit in that school gymnasium our 3rd year in high school. Watching the homecoming “ceremony” with only the sound of a sigh by one…AND then a “YES, I KNOW”. A quiet agreement to a protest that would take 4 years. 4 years of painful discrimination, threats of bodily harm, and the loss of childhood friends. We did it on our own accord.

Often I think, WHY would we embark on such a crusade? Now that I am the old age of 32, I know that quietly the Great Spirit whispered and set us to work. Work that included radio stations, newspaper articles, educational forums, and prayerful reflections. Ending with resolutions from two tribes to stop an event that had it been a priest and nuns would’ve been thrown out before it began. But then, the Lakota are not the majority where I come from. Most often injustices such as these happen to minority, the very people we advocate for. Most times, your own people. Injustice is not a new thing to us. Neither is faith. But most often during this very meeting, I heard doubt. I heard anxiety. I heard anger. I heard “not me”.

While my example is clearly an example of a non-violent protest. It was my entry into the hardships of advocacy as a 16 year old. Today, the issues are heart wrenching examples of human right injustices: war, poverty, gender based violence, health care, discrimination, and migration issues. The overt need for peace and justice through reconciliation weighs heavily. Our provinces have so many of these issues in common. And yet I hear the same doubt, anxiety, anger and “not me”.

During our time here at the 25th Anniversary of APJN, we have had an unparalleled opportunity for direct education and face to face contact from our leaders struggling through the structural processes on our behalf. Fighting for the funding for us to be here. Gratefully and humbly I extend thanks on behalf of all of us, to Claudine, Jenny, Brian, Margaret, the steering committee and our Geneva hosts.

The fact that you are here is not an accident. I implore you to intentionally reflect upon your gifts of ministry, your strengths, and intentionally reflect upon how you can strategically assist APJN and all our provinces move into a critical time with ACTION! Do not be angry at the processes.

Do not be angry at the system or definitions. Because while your mind is clouded……our leaders face violence…… and our beloved children are dying… AND yet they wait in faith.

Do you remember what it was like to be that young and have such faith? I do. Because it happens every day in my life. Even at 32! Too often, the Great Spirit whispers and we do not hear because our minds are clouded with the thoughts of doubt. So I tell you now, it is not an accident that you are here. It is not an accident that you were sent. Can you listen to that whisper in your ear? Can you have faith in that dream? Can you open your minds just the tiniest bit to see God’s signs? I know He whispers to you too.

I know He gives you the signs. Can you stop one moment to think HOW can I do this? BELIEVE “yes, I am called!” Can you have the faith of Christ Jesus as a child? The strength of a sister, to help with the work when you are weary? Or the love of a mother to believe?

Frustrated! I scream inside my mind. Sadness pulls at my heart. Despair cries to my soul. Do they know what they say? Do they know what to do?

As a mother, I think how must I show them?

As a sister, I hold you in my heart. A

s a daughter, I whisper in your ear………the time is now! The time is now! Mitakuye Oyasin – You are all my relatives. AMEN! (Luke 2:41-52)

I am Episcopalian for many reasons, but I love being Episcopalian because of the church’s promotion cultural understanding and calling for “Episcopalians to serve Christ by seeking Justice, Peace and Love”. I have a deep passion for advocacy, experience, and calling to leadership in a variety of capacities not only within the corporate world, but also the church.

I have been influenced not only by Lakota virtues but also by the Episcopal Church as a cradle Episcopalian. I have been blessed to be exposed to cultural diversity from my upbringing on the rural Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to living in the city of San Diego. This duality has allowed me to expand my traditional knowledge, meet people from all over the world, and understand the essential need for respectful relationships collaboration. I believe a major role of the Church’s mission is to bridge our diverse cultures and restore unity with God and each other in Christ. We are also called to promote peace and justice, and create reconciliation world-wide. My deep faith in the Creator gives me the strength and courage to tell of my experiences and therefore inspire others into leadership.

My faith has led my actions, beginning at the age of 16 in 1994. My twin sister and I protested the 57-year-old “Homecoming Ceremony” at our high school, which was located on a county between two Indian reservations in South Dakota. We both believe we were called to advocate for justice, as we began the peaceful and extremely difficult protest by ourselves. No one told us to do it, but we knew we had to. The community was mostly non-Indian farming community that had little interaction with the tribes at that time. The mascot was “the Warriors” and the ceremony included five “Warrior Princesses, a Big Chief, and a Medicine Man” with complete dress. The ceremony consisted of the Medicine Man dancing around the Warrior Princesses and then stopping to manually weighing them, inspecting their faces/mouths/ears/hair and clothing to finally “choose” one as a gift to the Big Chief. My sister and I felt a deep responsibility to stop this event, not only because of the spiritual degradation but also for the blatantly sexist and stereotypical behavior. We often compared the event to the Episcopal Church and if this behavior would be accepted if a priest behaved in the manner of their so-called Medicine Man. We were deeply offended by how they portrayed our sacred Medicine Men and our people. We educated the communities surrounding the town through the forums and media. During this time, my sister and I were ostracized and stigmatized by the community we grew up in and lost the majority of our non-Indian friends. The Oglala Sioux Tribe and Rosebud Sioux Tribe passed resolutions in support of our endeavor and after four years of peaceful protesting the ceremony was stopped. During our senior graduation in 1995, the crowd would applaud as each student received their scholarships and diplomas, but we were met with silence. One of the scholarships we received that year was from the Episcopal Church.

Since then I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to be exposed to diversity. This has allowed me to expand my knowledge and meet people from all over the world as a military spouse. I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and was raised on the reservation until I left to attend college, first on a scholarship at University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and completing my two bachelor’s degrees at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. In San Diego, I also went to graduate school obtaining my Masters in Business Administration-Global Management. My past corporate work experience includes Advertising and Marketing at a Native American Viejas Casino and Outlet Center in San Diego, California. I also served as the first chairman of the Viejas SunShine Fund (an emergency employee fund), as well as volunteered for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

I worked at the Viejas Enterprises outside of San Diego, California. Viejas Enterprises has a large casino with over 2000 employees, 2000 slot machines, 30 gaming tables, three restaurants, a bingo hall, a concert venue, and a retail outlet mall with 57 stores. I worked for both the casino and outlet mall for four years. I began my career at Viejas Enterprises in Human Resources and was then promoted to an Advertising Executive Assistant and Communications Coordinator position. In this position I did everything from office administration and budget analysis to graphic signage coordination to planning radio promotion events including table game tournaments, slot machine tournaments and live broadcasts. I also coordinated television commercials and live interviews, wrote and produced the company newsletter, and assisted with Public Relations. I also worked with the graphics department to produce various publications, as well as company wide signage.

In 2000, I found myself working as an Administrator for Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Pensacola, Florida after Hurricane Ivan when employment was scarce… it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. This position allowed me to be a part of many ministry programs nation wide and find my calling to Native American Ministry and Women’s Ministry. My political experience, as well as my journalism experience at Indian Country Today, and corporate experience taught me the world of politics, the positive and the negative.

These experiences taught me that action is more important than words. Action is more important than personal agendas. That what we do today for the future of our people is more important than job titles and it is important to do the work for future of Christ’s Kingdom. As a Lakota and Episcopalian, I try to lead by example and pass on knowledge to all. Communication is essential. My hope is through communication and education: I can encourage reconciliation, spiritual formation, and inspire our people into leadership for the future of absolute equality across genders, cultures, and countries. I believe the combined voices will give strength to the next generation. I believe our role is to organize, educate, train, and inspire the next generation to reach out to promote justice, peace, and love.