Day 3 in Browning 2016
Thank you for checking in with us today!! It is such a blessing to be able to work with all of the students at De La Salle Blackfeet School and learn about one another’s gifts this week. We all greatly appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers of support from back home as we aim to touch the lives in the Blackfeet community.
This is the second year I have served on this immersion trip, and I believe it is important to talk about some of the stereotypes or thoughts that may not necessarily be true regarding the Pikuni people. First and foremost, these individuals are just like you and me. Any crime, such as domestic violence or drunk driving incidents that have happened here, might as well have the same probability of occurring in any other town. It is far from the truth that the people in Browning are unfriendly or prejudice to visitors. On the contrary, most of the Pikuni people, as well as the students at DLSBS, have asked the immersion students whether or not we would like to hear their stories. Some of the tales are heartbreaking, while others are heartwarming. One of the greatest gifts we can offer in our service to this community is the ability to LISTEN.
When I engage in a conversation with a person from Browning, they tell me they do not hold any hatred in their hearts regarding the results of assimilation and the early European settlers’ passion for Manifest Destiny. However, there have been detrimental effects from these events on the ways the Pikuni people live their daily lives. Many have lost their cultural identity, original language, and even some of the sacred items that are necessary for specific ceremonies. Across the board, all students have some sort of a discrepancy between their ability and achievement in the classroom. This also goes to show that the students who are thriving in certain subject areas, may not be given enough differentiation in the classroom to grow in their talents. The only way to better understand these peoples’ ways of life is to COME HERE AND SEE THE INJUSTICES firsthand.
Yes, some of the people in this town have resorted to substance abuse as a means to end the long treachery referred to as historical trauma, only because they cannot break the cyclic behaviors. What you may not know is that the U.S. Congress passed a law in 1889 that forbid Indians from practicing their spirituality. This was, and still is today, a major contributing factor responsible for the families who live below the poverty line in Browning. The Pikuni desire to practice their SPIRITUALITY is comparable to the basic needs any human requires to sustain life: FOOD, WATER, SHELTER, AND LOVE.
As a Church community we are being called upon to reach out and help these people in Browning with whatever burdens or injustices may be holding them back from experiencing the true relationship between love for Jesus and love for neighbor. We cannot ignore the fact that there are communities, such as Browning who need not only our empathy, but also, the commitment to fulfilling their basic needs.
I ask you to consider the following in your own lives: Where do you shop? How do you shop? Has there ever been a time when you went without a meal? What is your main method of transportation to work? How long does it take you to shower in the morning?
“You know who you are,
You know where you come from,
You know where you are going.”
– Darnell RidesAtTheDoor
What is GOD calling YOU to do?