Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Smoke Signals: Rosebud Rez Report and Family Camp

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Smoke Signals - Rosebud Rez Report and Family Camp
Richard Twiss
Jul 28, 2009

Hau kola (hello friend),

Kath and I just returned from a life–enriching week of experiences on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota for our annual cross-cultural immersion course. As I reflect on some of our experiences, tears come to my eyes. Jesus is so much greater and involved in the affairs of human beings than I ever imagined or was taught. It is my great hope you are discovering the same thing in the universe of your life!

This was the third year of a ten-year growing partnership with the people of the Sicangu Lakota (Rosebud Sioux People). We attended and participated in a traditional Lakota Sundance Ceremony, the local Antelope Community Powwow, and two Inipi (sweat lodge) ceremonies. We also visited with the President of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate (Sicangu-“Burnt Thigh” Lakota-“Sioux” Oyate-“The People” or Nation) and members of the tribal council. I was able to share briefly with President Bordeaux and Vice-President, Kimball a little of my international travel, vision for Wiconi and how I carry myself as a Sicangu. It was also my privilege to meet with the President of Sinte Gleska “Spotted Tail” University, and hung out with my relatives for a delicious barbecue picnic. In addition, we visited with local Native pastors and various ministry leaders in our attempt to “catch a glimpse” of what the Spirit of Jesus is doing among the Sicangu people.

On one hand, life among the Sicangu (See’chahn-gu –the g is guttural) –people looks bleak. Unemployment is at 85 percent, suicide among males ages 15-25, is the highest in North America, teen pregnancies (babies birthing babies) is staggering, alcohol and drug abuse out of control. At the same time, (with few exceptions) Euro-centric churches continue to be antagonistic towards Lakota rituals and cultural expressions and still insist on an anglicized cultural expression for Sunday morning services.

On the other hand, the commitment to cultural and language preservation is growing, the importance of education is being realized and the emergence of the next generation of followers of Jesus who embrace the cultural forms and rituals of the people as part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus is taking hold… at long last! Our team worshipped Jesus together with some twenty-something Sicangu men who led a traditional Inipi (sweat lodge) ceremony in a beautiful Christ-honoring way. These young men are the hope for the future!

We forged some new and strengthened the potential for incredibly fruitful relationships with leaders on the Rez. We will be looking to support a new organization that just purchased a building that will soon begin cultural, educational and economic programs to equip young Lakota people to be successful human beings.

I was asked many times by local believers if I would pray about helping them in starting new expressions of “church” and raise up the next generation of Sicangu Lakota followers of Jesus. Katherine and I will be praying. There is so much that needs to be done among my people! Will you please join us in praying about what the future holds for us and for Wiconi International?

LIVING WATERS FAMILY CAMP AND POWWOW

Our 5th Annual Mni Wiconi Wacipi and Family Camp begins this Thursday with the camp at near capacity with 230 people registered. A very special thank you to those who helped sponsor a Native family to attend this year. More than 75 people are coming as a result of your generosity. We only have a few dorm and camping spaces and a cabin or two still open for last minute registrants.

I want to give a shout out to Corey (Blackfeet) and Gina (Yakama/Siletz) Greaves, founders of Mending Wings Ministries and affiliate staff of Wiconi who give leadership to the high school age students who attend camp. They come from the Yakama Rez and do an incredible job each year. You can read more about their dynamic youth ministry (one the best in the nation in my opinion!) at http://www.mendingwings.net/.

For our local readers the powwow begins this coming Saturday (Aug 1) at 1:30, dinner at 5:00 and a second session at 7:00pm (were expecting well over 500 for the powwow). It is a free public gathering so bring yourself, friends, family and neighbors to a beautiful celebration of the life of our Creator in the Spirit of Jesus. Visit the website at www.wiconi.com for directions and details.

CAMPUS CRUSADE FOR CHRIST – “NATIONS” NATIVE MINISTRY

I was honored to be invited to speak to the staff of the leadership of Nations the campus ministry serving First Nations students of Campus Crusade for Christ. Donnie (Navajo) and Rene (Zuni) Begay are the first full-time Native staff who are helping shape what the efforts will look like in relationship to the cultural ways, beliefs and backgrounds of Native students. They are a talented and gracious young couple.

In addition I spoke briefly to the Northwest and Midwest Regional Gatherings about Native realities as well as had a Q&A lunch with various national leaders. Mark Charles (Navajo) had spoken to the entire conference (5000) the night before about being Native and following Jesus which was well received. Finally, I had an informal breakfast with the president of Campus Crusade where we had some excellent conversation about Native people and issues. I was able to share with him about the work of Wiconi, NAIITS, the WCGIP (World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People) and the growing network of First Nations authors, scholars and traditional practitioners that has emerged in North American the past fifteen years. I am hoping for a mutually rewarding relationship between our network of Native leaders and Campus Crusade in the years to come.

Peace as you journey in the Jesus way!

Richard Twiss
www.wiconi.com

PS – I will be speaking at several places in August in the Northwest so come out and say hau kola if you can. My schedule is on the website.
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