In the late 1870s members of the Nez Perce Tribe were rounded up and forcibly marched to and held captive at Ft. Vancouver here in Vancouver, Washington. A small child is buried on the grounds who died during their winter captivity.
For the past fourteen years members of the Nez Perce Indian Nation gather at the Fort to remember this time, which is called the Chief Redheart Memorial. It is a time for healing. Local, state and federal government officials, as well as religious leaders, gather to share stories and enjoy a great meal as they pay tribute to tribal ideals, honor tribal ancestors and help to heal old wounds. There is also the Riderless Horse (empty-saddle) Ceremony and a traditional passing of the peace pipe.
Over the years, countless times, Anglo-American people have said to me, "Why don't you native people just forgive and forget and move on." Forgetting is not an indication of healing. For the Nez Perce people who suffered so terribly, simply because they were native and they loved their land, remembering is far more healing than forgetting.
Six years ago, Gary and Mary Ann Eastty, Wiconi staff members, invited others to join them in serving the organizers of the Chief Redheart Memorial gathering to do "whatever needed doing." A few weeks ago native committee members told Gary, "Thank you so much. We couldn't do this without you guys." Understanding why we do what we do, they said, "You are doing this the right way."
2011 Redheart Volunteer Crew
Front, L to R; Ken Stickney, Amos Olin, Maxx Cote, Cash Cote, Cooky Wall, Canya Barnes. Back, L to R; Mary Ann & Gary Eastty, Michelle Trower, Hannah Cote, Robert Wall, Daniel and Robert Barnes
This remark is hugely affirming to us because it tells us we are fulfilling the vision the Creator gave to us, to Remove Barriers and Build Bridges. Gary says, "We simply want to introduce non-native folks to the native community in the context of serving in the spirit of Jesus." As a result of Gary's efforts we now serve the Covington Middle School Title VII Powwow, Kelso Title VII Powwow, Delta Park Powwow and the Circle of Hope and we have plenty more opportunities if you want to join us.
Serving our community is not an outreach strategy; This is not being missional; This is not evangelism; This is not trying to convince or convert.
This is our humble and honest effort to serve our friends, love our neighbors, work for the common good of our community and participate in the healing of the wounds of our nation regarding the relationship between Native and Euro-American people ... in the spirit of Jesus.
Thanks for being a part of this journey together with us. Who's your neighbor?
Richard Twiss, (Sicangu Lakota)
Upcoming Really Cool Rad Gatherings
Mark your calendars and plan to attend these great gatherings. They're spread around North America and the known universe, but find one in your area, or plan to travel somehow. Richard will be speaking in some capacity at each of these gatherings. Simply click on each item to follow the link to read more about each gathering.