I traveled to Eagle Butte, South Dakota for the Sacred Heart Center’s Board meeting. They do some great work in working with victims of domestic violence and Indian reservation youth who find themselves needing a group home living situation to get them through some of life’s trouble spots. Access to quality health care is also a problematic area on many of South Dakota’s Indian reservations. I was happy to see how near completion the new Indian Health Service hospital is, eliminating the need for tribal members to travel hours away to take care of injuries and illnesses.
Sue, a houseparent in the Speyer Home (6th– 8th boys) wanted to show her appreciation to our maintenance staff for all the work they did to completely renovate the Speyer Home. She and her daughter Wendy, who owns a BBQ restaurant, prepared a feast of ribs and pulled pork and invited the entire crew to lunch. Our staff at St. Joseph’s Indian School works hard at what they do, yet it always feels good to get some added affirmation and appreciation. While my travels kept me away from lunch, I made it home in time for supper, when the boys of Speyer and Fisher got to sit down to a similar feast.
St. Joseph’s has been sponsoring the Institute for Healing Racism in our community. A year ago, a group of 24 staff members and leaders from the community went through a two-day training session and have been working to find ways of following through to address the issues that cause tension and misunderstanding in our area. As a follow-up, a second group of 21 is meeting these days, and an open meeting was held tonight to fill in anyone interested from the public to learn about these efforts.
Addressing racism has to begin by looking inside and changing ourselves and our own attitudes, especially those ways we distance ourselves from others who are different from ourselves. When we are curious and learn from other people’s stories and experiences, there is so much that we can share. All our high school students were in attendance, and they were most at attention when the speaker was addressing racism within the Native American community. Sometimes our students judge each other on the lightness or darkness of their skin. Sometimes animosity exists between “breeds” and “full bloods”. “Apple” (red on outside / white on inside) is another slur that isn’t helpful to people pulling together for the good of their own community. Race is an ongoing issue that we as a nations constantly struggle with, and have to get right.
Really there’s only one race, the human race, and we are all God’s children.