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Showing posts from March, 2021

Knowledge - Four Parts

  First, an opportunity for a book study discussion on Zoom is this Wednesday, March 31, 6 pm to 7 pm, on   An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States  (2014) by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Rev. Rodger McDaniel, a participant in the Wind River Justice Pod and pastor of Highlands Presbyterian Church, graciously welcomes us to attend. To receive the link, email Rodger at   rmc81448@gmail.com . I read the book 7 years ago but am reading it again. The author grew up in the treaty territory of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho in Oklahoma but acknowledges that she did not have much interest in her Native American heritage on her mother’s side of the family until prompted by others. Bill Moyers wrote of the book, “Dunbar-Ortiz strips straight line from the sins of your fathers . . . to the contemporary condition . . . Best of all, she points a way beyond amnesia . . . toward our deepest humanity of truth-telling and repair.” This book offers an understanding for those of us seeking a path

Decolonizing Ourselves

  “Historically and to the present, we remain obsessed with solving the Indian problem, even as we deflect attention from the settler problem. . .  As a settler ally, I must continuously confront the colonizer-perpetuator within myself, interrogating my own position as a beneficiary of colonial injustice.” - Paulette Regan in  Unsettling the Settler Within  (2010) As I work to lead the Riverton Peace Mission, I need to stop at each step and re-examine what we are doing so that we do not fall within the same trap that Regan so wisely warns in the concluding chapter of her book. The western way is to see a problem and immediately want to fix it and invariably we only continue the colonizing process and pat ourselves on the back for having helped when we have not or for having tried but blaming others for the failure. No one is healed. White supremacy continues. Sovereignty is ignored. External and lateral violence continues. Last week, members of Catholic Charities of the Catholic Dioces

Persistent Pursuit for Justice

One of the top ten songs from the 1960’s civil rights protest era that keeps playing in my head these days is, “Ain’t Gonna Be Nobody Turn Me Around.”  In the summer of 2019 when I co-founded the Riverton Peace Mission to be more than just an annual Peace March, I had no idea how much more. But the Riverton Peace Mission has become the conscience for a border town controlled by white settlers where violence, discrimination, and disrespect towards Indigenous people is now by and large acceptable. Our conscience now says, Not anymore! What I believe stimulated a conscience into being was a white Riverton police officer killing Andy Antelope with a gun close range at Walmart on a Saturday afternoon on September 29, 2019 with still absolutely no police accountability and Walmart having stayed open while people walked around a dead body gawking. Accountability will only happen now if we the people – red, brown, and white – together demand it. How do we do that without the cooperation of

What We Need to Know

At our last meeting of the Wind River Justice Pod, we asked what information we need. One replied that he did not know what he did not know. This is likely truer than many of us care to admit. We bring our implicit and unknown bias and assumptions, thereby causing unintended harm, because we do not know what we do not know. We are on this journey towards community harmony. We want equity, justice, and respect for diversity. We want to build trusting relationships. Much is happening with our four campaigns, as we pause to find out what we do not know yet to make the campaigns more successful. Our four campaigns are police accountability that includes Justice for Andy, marketplace equity, environmental justice that includes food sovereignty, and building allyship. For each of these campaigns we need to know: What is happening now? What are the unanswered questions? What does the community want, especially our youth? We have some data that we need to analyze. We need to collect more throu

Food Desert No More?

  Nearly a year ago with the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, the Riverton Peace Mission became a conduit of generous donations from over 100 donors for emergency food and supplies for the Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR). Through existing organizations, we distributed $37,000 for this emergency aid, not counting what other organizational and governmental bodies did.  Emerging from that emergency effort, a food pod was formed to encourage the continuing efforts for food sustainability and sovereignty on the WRIR. The WRIR is fortunate to have the climate, soil, and water for successful healthy food production. In the mountains traditional medicines and foods grow. There need not be a food desert here. But there has been. COVID-19 raised that awareness.   Why is the life expectancy 20 years less on the WRIR than for the general population in Wyoming? A short answer is colonialism. Traditional knowledge and practices related to food were lost. Families became dependent on food commodi