Day 4 – Browning, MT 2023
Today was out last day in the classroom with our students. It was bitter-sweet to say goodbye because I grew to love the kids. I was in a class all week with 8 4th grade students, 2 girls and 6 boys. Immediately the little girls were welcoming and wanting to spend time with me, while the boys were more hesitant because of my “cooties”. By the end of the week, however, the boys were chasing me with snow balls and making fun of me, so I felt accepted ha ha. The majority of the students were behind in their education, but with time, I was able to help the students to slowly work through their work. Throughout the day, I focused on helping individual children practice their spelling, language arts, mathematics and social studies. The 4th graders were reading the book Through My Eyes, the story by Ruby Bridges. We engaged in a lot of conversation with the kids about civil rights and the tragic history of the inequality of race. Hearing the kids excitedly share their stories about insight about these historical events and hardships our country faced was great to see their little minds amazed by the different times. My favorite activity to do with the kids was recess. We always played basketball, and these kids played went hard. By the end of the 30 minutes, everyone was sweating and out of breath.
I noticed a parallel between the words of one of our guest speakers and the teaching staff. During morning assembly, the children were taught an important life lesson through a simple sheet of paper. The students were instructed to crumble their paper in a ball. After adequately crumbling their papers, they were told to open the paper back up. They observed that the paper was no longer in its former condition. It had creases and folds that it was previously free of. The staff challenged the students to rid the paper of these creases and restore it to its former glory. An adult would immediately realize that this is an impossible task, but the young children confidently and excitedly attempted to cure the paper. Some bent the paper over their knee and rubbed its surface, while others applied other methods. Of course, not one student succeeded. The staff revealed to the students that they were all pieces of paper. That can be crumbled and creased by the words and actions of class mates. They can do their best to apologize, but that alone will not restore them to their former condition.
Today, we listened to a speaker who shared a similar message. He took a less metaphorical approach and explained to us the realities of the trauma that the Blackfeet people bear. He noted that these traumas stem from the actions of colonizers generations ago. That suffering has been passed down through generations of Blackfeet people. He said that we “shouldn’t be surprised that that wound is still bleeding.” Although time and generations have passed, those creases and folds have not come out.
His description of this suffering being a generational curse reminded me of how we understand the fallen nature of humanity through original sin. He said that the Blackfeet people are still limping from attacks against earlier generations. “The wounds are still bleeding.” I was shocked by how deeply sin can destroy. Cruelty against the Blackfeet people has cascaded down family trees and poisoned the roots. The story of Adam and Eve describes not only the fall of the first man and the first woman, but the fall of the entire human race. The sin they committed has been transmitted generationally.