I say it was the best trip yet because it seems to me that the relationships we have begun with the people on the Reservation just continue to grow. Some evidence of that is that Melda and her family presented our group with a star quilt. That is significant because in the old days the Lakota people gave a buffalo robe to people they chose to honor. Now that the buffalo are all gone, the star quilt has taken it's place. It is a very high honor for the Lakota to give a star quilt to someone and I was overwhelmed when they presented it to me by unfolding it and wrapping it around my shoulders. I mean really ... what can you say to that??
It was also cool to have Melda show us the pictures of her family. They look like something you might see in a text book - pictures of old Indians in full regalia, but these are her family pictures. She pointed out one in particular, her great grandfather, a friend of Crazy Horse and the one who built the cabin that we added a room on to. It was a surreal feeling to know that we are connected with that man and have joined him in the building of a home for his family. They told us we are family now - even to the point of them kidding Dennis about throwing out the hot grease from the booth at the Pow Wow because he was "family now, so get to work".
(click the pic for a larger view)
In church on Sunday one of the Lakota women stood and sang a song of thanks to our group and wanted a group picture that they can hang on the wall of their church.
And there were of course the kids. Kids who will break your heart. One in particular that stole all of ours. They were really hungry this year. They ate and ate and ate. One little one would even take the chicken out of her sister's mouth because she couldn't wait to have hers cut up to eat it.
There is so much more. A lot more. But I've got to get to the groc store to get something for dinner tonight. I still have to unpack and take care of mail, email, etc.
Oh wait. .... this one can't wait...
When I got home I found a letter that was in a thick envelope. The address was from a man who had emailed me just before we left and asked where to send money to for Backpacks. I opened the envelope and found check after check after check. Some for $10 and some as high as $200. And there was a letter which read,
My name is ___________ and I am a Cherokee. When I was a child and I
went to the white man's school, they treated me pretty mean. They didn't
understand my culture. I also was from a poor family and never had lunch
like everyone else had. I had stuff from the garden that my Mother gave me
to eat. I also was never allowed new school supplies. When I was 7
years old the gym teacher gave me some tennis shoes to wear because we couldn't
afford any, the right one was red and the left one blue. And one was too
big and one was too small. The while people really laughed at me.
That's why I took upon myself to help the Lakota children. The
Lakota people mean a lot to me. They are very brave warriors. Also
the best people you will ever find. I hope the donations that I received will
help many more children than ever this year. It means a great deal to a child to
have new school supplies. I wish I could give more than what we are
giving. The funds that I have received total to $860.00 and if I receive
any more I will mail them to you. "
We just have to keep doing this.