I've been homesick for South Dakota lately. Or more specifically, I've been homesick for the Pine Ridge reservation. I miss my little girl ... the with the smile that captures all of the joy and innocence and wonder of childhood. This is her wearing my cowboy hat.
And I miss the night sky. On the rez you can lay on the grass and as the cool breeze blows across the prarie you can see a billion stars in the sky. Sometimes, if you are very quite you can hear the Indians down in the village beating their drum and singing. There is a peacefulness there unlike anywhere else I've ever been.
And I miss the gentleness of the Lakota people. Yes, there are problems on the rez but these beautiful people have done something that many other people would not have been able to do. They survived. They have survived the battles with the U.S. Government. Theyhave survived brutal winters. They have survived the oppression by the white people and the discrimination that still exists even today. And they have survived with grace.
I remember my first trip to the rez. I went with another church group to get a feel for the work there. On the last day we went sight-seeing after a week of hard work. Many wanted to see Mt. Rushmore but some of us did not and so we were let out in the little town of Keystone, a tourist trap not far from Rushmore. There we could shop, eat ice cream, or see a show and then meet up with the rest of the group later.
For some reason I felt very much alone that day. The others in the group had been very friendly and accepting of me all week so it wasn't that. I just felt alone. After getting out of the van I hung back and allowed the others to "lose" me so that I could be by myself. I bought an ice cream and sat on a bench and settled in to watch people.
Not far from where I was sitting there was an old Indian men in his complete regellia holding a cardboard sign that read, "Will pose for phot for tip". It disturbed me that he was there exploiting himself and his culture so that some tourist could have a picture with a "real" Indian. I didn't blame him. You do what you have to do to survive. I was just very sorry that he had to be there.
After a while I noticed that a car load of white people drove up and stopped in front of the old Indian. They rolled down their window, snapped a picture of him and then drove off laughing. I sat there in dismay, literally burning inside with anger. I wanted to run after them screaming "haven't you stolen enough from these people". Being a tourist town there was a man dressed like a cowboy in the street cracking a large whip. I suppose he was drumming up business for a theater group but I had the overwhelming urge to grab his whip and chase that car down the street. But of course, I didn't do that. Instead I sat there wondering at what I could/should do.
Finally, I approached the old Indian man. I said, "I couldn't help but notice that a car stopped her while ago and took your picture and then drove off without paying you for it. To me that is the same as stealing and I'm very sorry that happend. I want to pay you for the picture they took", and I held out some money to him.
He pushed my hand away and said "No" as he shook his head. When it became apparent that he was not about to accept my money I put it away. At that point the old man held out his hand to shake hands and said, "Now .... we can't judge them for what they do. We do not know why people do the things they do so it is not for us to judge Maybe they didn't have money for a photo. Maybe they could not find a parking place. Maybe they .... ect." and he contineud to list possibilities. We sat and chatted for a while and then it was time for me to meet my group. As I walked away I was humbled. Here I was the one calling myself a "Christian" and yet I was the one wanting to chase people down the street with a whip while this man had nothing but grace and forgiveness for his enemies. I have a long way to go before I live up to his example.
- My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.