Aaniin-Hello in Ojibwe! I can't remember my first actual experience with Native American culture. I guess growing up in the St. Paul Public school system was probably my first time in the classrooms or pow wow events we attended.
Going to UMM was probably the most significant educational-cultural impact. UMM has roots of this unique culture as there was a Catholic Indian School before this campus. In fact, one can tell with the names around the college campus: Turtle Mountain Cafe (Student Center's cafeteria), Oyate Hall, etc... Also, the Cultural Native Indian American (UMM student organization) group sponsors an annual Pow-Wow each spring, which other area Indian reservations participate.
I've been to camps that has focus on reaching out to the Native American people with Morris Community Church, which I've been able to pull up some of the following resources down below. For example, I went to Hungry Horse-Glacier National Park in Montana in the summer of 2002, which I learned more of other tribes (eg. Black Feet) other than the familiar ones in Minnesota (Ojibwe, Dakotah, etc...).
I've talk to some Native American Indian Christians, which they share the importance of not condemning ancient cultural customs (eg. pow wows). They can be a "vessel" in relating-reaching to these people. One I met at the "Ethnic Harvest 03" conference told me we need to embrace the different ethnic cultural heritage:
Ethnic/Indigenous Music is a pwerful tool in reaching a group of people
-ex. drum at the boys and girls club in contrast to the popularity of rap
*Above is some text I got from a worksheet that got passed at a workshop on "Ethnic/Indigenous Music" by David Innerebner (Native American Indian Christian, who travels all over to speak on this topic) at "Ethnic Harvest 2003" in the Twin Cities.
Wilma shared about the need of more respect for Native American Indian women and her experience working for the rights for her Cherokee "family" and Native American Indian family overall through the values of the collectivist culture.
I first heard of this shooting last night while I was at work (group home), which I was very dissapointed and turned it off. I would later hear about the seriousness when I went home after work and had a long prayer for this situation the following morning with folks from my local church. I decided to do some "google" search=>
Below is a shared experience that I thought was an awesome personal testimony from Wiconi's founder:
Background & History of First Nations Ministry
Christianity -- The White Man' s Religion
For many Native people, the gospel of Jesus Christ has not been good news, but bad. It
is tragic that Christianity is seen as a threat to their cultural identity and traditional way
of life. Jesus Christ Breaks Barriers As a Lakota born on South Dakota's Rosebud
Reservation, Richard Twiss knows first-hand the hatred toward white people many
Native people feel. He even went so far as to participate with the American Indian
Movement (AIM) in the 1972 militant takeover and forced occupation of the offices of
the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in Washington D.C. Today, however, Richard Twiss is a
different person. "I am grateful to God that, like you, I have also experienced the inner
transformation Jesus Christ produces in those who love him. As a Native man, I know the
Spirit of God can break through the strongest lies that still keep our people separated
from Christ." Challenges In the midst of the rich heritage and potential for First Nations
people, there exist centuries-old obstacles and challenges. Less than 5% of Native people
have a vital relationship with Christ. Many of our people suffer an alcoholism rate 10
times that of all other ethnic groups in the U.S. combined, teen suicide six times the
national average, highest rates of unemployment in the land, severe economic hardships,
and an average life expectancy for Native men of 47.
Famous Daves" Native American is an enrolled member of the Chippewa and Choctaw tribes and is the founder of Famous Dave�s of America, recognized as one of the Hottest Restaurant Concept�s in America by Nation�s Restaurant News"
*performed in Morris' Common Cup Coffeehouse as part of the first week of classes celebration for the local college campus-UMM. I met him for the first time at a youth-outreach event called, "See You At the Party" in Alexandria in Dec. 31s of 2003.
Amazing Grace, an Cherokee National Anthem (see Negro Spiritual) sang during the "Trail of Tears" "This hymn was written in 1779 by John Newton who,
until his early 20's, was an unbeliever. A decade later he had become a devout preacher. The tune was known as "an early American Melody" and became a favorite of the Cherokees.
It was sung on the Trail of Tears and can be considered the Cherokee National anthem."
Related Sites: Cherokee, from Wikipedia
-Bio Wikipedia " (October 21, 1955 – September 19, 1997) was an American Christian music singer and songwriter born in Richmond, Indiana. He died in an automobile accident in September of 1997.
Mullins is best known for his praise choruses "Step by Step" (later incorporated into his hit single "Sometimes by Step") and "Awesome God", both of which have been embraced as modern classics by many Christians. Some of his albums are also considered among Christian music's best, including Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth (1988), The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume One (1991) and A Liturgy, A Legacy, & A Ragamuffin Band (1993). His music has been covered by many artists, including Caedmon's Call, Five Iron Frenzy, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, John Tesh, and Third Day.
Rich Mullins is also remembered for his devotion to the Christian faith, which was often an inspiration to others. He was heavily influenced by St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). In 1997, he composed a musical called Canticle of the Plains, a retelling of the life of St. Francis set in the Old West."
Life: "..After graduation, he and Mitch McVicker moved to a Navajo reservation in Tse Bonito, New Mexico to teach music to children. They lived in a hogan at the reservation until his death..."
-Concerts: Rich Mullins Screen Door, from youtube.com "This was performed live."
Images of Pine Ridge Reservation
Due to SPAM comments have been disabled. Various images of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
See http://backpacksforpineridge.com for info
Footage taken from:
"A Tatoo on my Heart"
"Incident at Oglala"
and various pictures and video taken by team members. " My Deliverer Is Coming- Rich Mullins, from youtube.com "by Rich Mullins
AWESOME GOD-RICH MULLINS
"christian music" The Legacy Ministry "
Rich Mullins spent the last few years of his life on the Navajo reservation. Many questioned this move because it wasn't the smartest career decision. Rich was more interested in people - even the "least of these." While his career offered him many opportunities, he loved to be with people (just ask anyone who has been to a concert). He especially wanted to reach out to Native American youth. Rich identified with those who felt crushed by life, circumstances, and history. His desire was to allow the whisper of the oppressed to be heard. Native youth have a voice but no one was listening, so Rich allowed them to be heard.
While on the reservation, Rich spent many evenings teaching, singing, and.."
Bible translations. The Bible has been printed in part or in whole in 32 Indian languages N. of Mexico. In 18 one or more portions have been printed; in 9 others the New Testament or more has appeared; and in 5 languages, namely, the Massachuset, Cree, Labrador Eskimo, Santee Dakota, and Tukkuthkutchin, the whole Bible is in print.
The Norwegian missionaries, Hans and Paul Egede, were the first to translate any part of the Bible into Greenland Eskimo, their version of the New Testament being printed in part in ] 744, and as a whole in 1766. A revision of this translation, by Otto Fabricius, was twice printed before the close of the 18th century; and in 1822 the Moravian Brethren brought out a new translation, which ran through several editions....
"are descendants of the first known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, who together make up about 2.4% of Australia's modern population. The latter term is usually used to refer to those who live in mainland Australia, Tasmania, and some of the other adjacent islands. The Torres Strait Islanders are indigenous Australians who live in the Torres Strait Islands between Australia and New Guinea. Indigenous Australians are recognised to have arrived between 70,000 and 40,000 years ago, though the lower end of this range (50,000 BC) has wider acceptance."
The Flying Bible Man
"A man's ministry in Australia to the aboriginals and more"
Warning. This article may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased. It also contains links to sites that may use images of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased.
Rolf de Heer, Still from Ten Canoes, 2006. Courtesy of Vertigo Productions and the NFSA
Rolf de Heer, Still from 'Ten Canoes', 2006. Courtesy of Vertigo Productions and the National Film and Sound Archive.
Indigenous film either portrays Indigenous people, issues and stories or is film made by Indigenous Australians. While Indigenous film is a small part, it is a highly significant part of Australia's culture. The portrayal of Indigenous issues and people in film provides a unique insight into Australia's relationship with its Indigenous peoples and heritage. Indigenous film can also be a means of expression for Indigenous experience and Indigenous culture...
Aboriginal knowledge is spiritual. It connects people with their land through art, dance, music, secret stories and ritual journeys into the mysteries known as the Dreamtime, when ancestral spirits came to Earth and created all things. In those wondrous outback landscapes you will see visual reminders of the Dreamtime spirits’ journeys everywhere.
You can appreciate the film’s stunning landscapes by visiting these locations in person, as well as experience your own adventure, romance and the local Aboriginal culture in hundreds of other Australian locations and experiences. Whether you choose a traditional outback farmstay or an exhilarating abseiling challenge – Australia will change and inspire you!
Find out about industry opportunities or visit www.australiamovie.com for more information about the movie.
"Artic Fire - Pentecost experience a true story of pentecost in a native american / canadian community."
Bridget Shares a Personal Story Part 1 of 3
"Growing up in a reservation in Canada and getting out to sharing the Good News. This is the first of three parts of her amazing story from drunkeness (see alcohol) to sharing the goodness of what God can do to deliver others from this addiction. She shared this personal "miracle" testimony at Morris Community Church in Morris, Minnesota on Sunday, March 9th of 2008"
*see more down below=>
"OTTAWA, ONTARIO (ANS) -- On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an historic formal apology on June 11, 2008, to former studentsof Indian Residential Schools and sought forgiveness for the students� suffering and for the damaging impact the schools had on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
�The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history,� Prime Minister Harper said. �Today, we recognize this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.�
For more than a century, Indian Residential Schools separated over 150,000 Aboriginal children from their families. One hundred and thirty-two schools were located in ever province and territory, except Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Most schools were operated by the Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and United Churches. In the 1870s, the Canadian government began to play a role in the development and administration of these schools.
The Government of Canada built an educational system in which very young children were often forcibly removed from their homes, often taken far from their communities. Many were inadequately fed, clothes and housed. All were deprived of the care and nurturing of their parents, grandparents and communities. First Nations, Inuit and Metis languages and cultural practices were prohibited in these schools.
Tragically, some of these children died while attending residential schools and others never returned home.
Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Phil Fontaine meets with Prime Minister.
"The government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation," the Prime Minister stated. "Therefore, on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this Chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to Aboriginal peoples for Canada�s role in the Indian Residential Schools system."
"For our parents, our grandparents, great grandparents, indeed for all of the generations which have preceded us, this day testifies to nothing less than the achievement of the impossible," Phil Fontaine, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations stated in response to the apology. "Canada has come of age today. The government has listened...We heard the Prime Minister describe the racist policy which created the residential schools. We heard him describe the devastation that followed. We heard the Government of Canada take full responsibility for this dreadful chapter in our shared history. We heard the Prime Minister declare that this will never happen again. Finally, we have heard Canada say it is sorry..."
Grand Chief Fontaine delivers response to apology
Following the Grand Chief's response, the leaders of Canada's opposition parties made statements on behalf of their parties.
The Prime Minister's apology and the responses from the Aboriginal leaders in attendance was broadcast live across Canada by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and the CTV Network.
One of the many gathering places where the speech was heard was at the opening session of the 16th Annual Rising Above National Conference in Regina, Saskatchewan. Gathered in the auditorium were some 200 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who had come to attend this four-day conference on abuse and Residential Schools who watched the proceedings on a giant screen.
At the conclusion of the Prime Minister's speech, many were weeping, others hugging one another. There was a sense of relief and yet a feeling of incredible pain as this apology has opened up a deep well of ugly memories that have been hidden for many years." Jim Uttley, Communications Coordinator for Wiconi International, is also the editor of INDIAN LIFE (www.indianlife.org) and serves as Native American News correspondent for ASSIST NEWS SERVICE.
You can E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can write to him at Wiconi International, P.O. Box 5246, Vancouver, WA 98668 or Indian Life, P.O. Box 32, Pembina, ND 58271. Jim lives with his wife Jan in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They have three grown children and two grandsons.
"BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Sweat dripped from Dut's short, slender body as she hollowed out a grave in the floor of the Colombian rain forest.
Only minutes earlier the Nu* Indian woman had given birth to her ninth child, a boy, but didn't like what she saw. The baby's head was misshapen, pointed — a temporary defect doctors would recognize as the result of an intense labor.
But there were no doctors here. Dut was ignorant and alone, except for several of her children who had tagged along with their mother as she ventured into the bush that day.
They watched as Dut laid their brother's tiny body in a shallow hole and began to cover him with dirt. The newborn shrieked in protest, his arms and legs struggling against the handfuls of cool, damp soil that pressed against his skin.
His cries weakened as a wave of earth washed across his face, followed by another and another. Abruptly, the jungle fell silent. Without pause Dut stood, brushed the caked blood and grime from her hands and turned toward home.
Lee Rojas* felt sick to her stomach. Watching her own 2-year-old daughter playing with friends in the Nu village, the Colombian Baptist missionary struggled to comprehend the cruelty described in Dut's macabre confession. Even worse, she learned that Dut had buried four other children alive — one simply because it was a twin (the Nu believe the smaller twin is possessed by evil spirits).
What Lee didn't know was that the Lord would use these brutal sins to transform Dut's life. Through Lee's witness, Dut would be one of the first Nu to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. The resulting change in her life is a glimpse of the way God is making His Son's name known among Colombia's indigenous, a group of more than 100 Indian tribes scattered across a nation nearly twice the size of Texas.
Spearheading that effort are missionaries Fernando and Brenda Larzabal. Born in Argentina, Fernando began his ministry career as a missionary pilot. He met Brenda, a teacher from Saranac, Mich., on a mission trip to Belize. They have been married 22 years and have four sons.
They're charged with helping to mobilize the Colombian church to take the Gospel to every Indian tribe.
Lee and her husband John* are among a growing number of Colombian missionaries who have accepted that call. It's a big job, and there's no one-size-fits-all strategy. Whether Betoye, Ticuna or Wayuu, each tribe is as unique as its name, with a distinct language, culture and worldview.
What they have in common is their need for Christ. Of the 100-plus Indian tribes, only nine are considered "evangelized." More than 60 others are without any Gospel witness. That means no known believers and no evangelical churches. Instead, most tribes are animists — spirit-worshippers who live in fear of failing to appease gods they neither know nor love.
"This is the very edge of darkness," Fernando says. "The overwhelming need of these people is to be delivered from the fear of Satan.... Without God, there is slavery. Without Christ, there is fear, and that's what they breathe day in and day out."
The Rojases know firsthand what that kind of fear can do. They've lived among the Nu for nearly 10 years and have often watched Nu families go hungry, sometimes for days, because they were too afraid of evil spirits to go hunting in the jungle.
"It's like a different world," Lee says. "The Nu live very primitively."
There's no electricity or running water in the villages. Until recently, the Nu didn't wear clothes. They sleep in hammocks hung from open huts topped with palm fronds. The jungle is their only source of food. Poison-tipped darts fired from blow guns snare birds or monkeys; wild plantains, insects and honey are gathered by hand.
This primal existence is due to the Nu's limited contact with the outside world; they are considered isolated even among other Indian tribes. There are no roads that lead to Nu villages. To reach them, the Rojases must hop a two-hour flight aboard a small plane to an unmarked landing strip carved into the jungle. From there it's a four-hour walk with their two young girls in tow.
Insurgents vs. the Gospel
But distance isn't the only barrier between the Indians and the Gospel — there's the threat posed by anti-government insurgents and illegal paramilitary outfits. Clashes with the army have forced these groups into remote areas of the Colombian countryside, the same areas where indigenous tribes make their homes. The insurgent problem is so widespread that nearly every unevangelized tribe, including the Nu, falls within their territory. Ransom kidnappings are practically guaranteed for foreigners who try to reach them.
While Americans would be conspicuous in these areas, Colombians blend in — which makes them ideal missionaries to indigenous communities. There's still some risk; but for the sake of the Gospel, it's risk missionaries like the Rojases are willing to take.
"It's true where we live is a bit dangerous and sometimes isn't very comfortable," Lee says. "But God tells us that the day of salvation is today. Christ died for the Nu and He sent us to tell them. We know our lives are in His hands. If we die, so be it, because Jesus will be there waiting for us."
That sense of urgency was burned into the Rojases' hearts the day Cho died. Counted among the family's dearest Nu friends, he was there from the very beginning of their ministry. Cho had helped John and Lee on countless occasions, spending hours patiently teaching them the Nu language or sharing fish he had caught for dinner. Their girls, Grace* and Joy*, even called him "grandpa."
But despite all Cho had given them, the Rojases were not able to give Cho the gift he needed most. At the time, they were trying to perfect their language skills and hadn't yet been able to share the Gospel with any of the Nu — not even Cho.
One day Cho became very sick. He was taken to a doctor in the city, but he died the next morning. John was sent to bring home his body.
"My heart broke," Lee remembers. "I told God, 'He didn't have a chance to believe because he wasn't able to hear about You.'"
That night the Rojases poured out their hearts in prayer, pleading with the Father on behalf of the Nu.
"We asked God that we never again bury a man or woman of this tribe without having the opportunity to tell them about Jesus," Lee recounts.
Filled with regret and doubt, they turned to the Larzabals for help. Fernando and Brenda reassured them and offered their guidance and friendship. They connected John and Lee with a local Colombian church that agreed to support the couple's ministry. More importantly, the Larzabals helped them develop a new strategy for reaching the Nu, one that allowed them to begin sharing the Gospel right away.
Within just a few months the Rojases were back on the field, witnessing to the Nu for the first time using chronological Bible stories. This is an evangelism tool that involves sharing and discussing a series of key stories from the Bible, usually from creation to Christ. Story sets often are tailored to address specific issues relevant to a particular people group.
"We prayed that the stories would be more to the Nu people than just another fable or fairy tale," Lee says. "Specifically, we asked that the issue of sin would be confronted and understood because the Nu did not take blame for anything they did."
Dut’s sin and salvation
Dut was among the first to listen to the stories and was captivated by what she heard. The Rojases quickly recognized the Holy Spirit at work, bringing Dut closer to confronting her sin.
"She had already learned from the story of Cain and Abel that God knows and sees everything," Lee says. "When we went over God's law of 'Thou shall not kill,' Dut knew she was cornered and that day she confessed."
"I buried these kids alive and now I am on the burner," Dut told Lee. "What will God do with me?"
Then came the story of Jonah and Nineveh's repentance.
"I have to do like the people of Nineveh," she said. To the Rojases' surprise, Dut immediately knelt in the dirt and asked for God's forgiveness.
"That was a moment of rejoicing for us," Lee remembers. "We knew this was the beginning of God's Word arriving with power among the Nu people."
They still hadn't gotten to the story of Christ. When they did, Lee says Dut was overjoyed to learn that Jesus had died for her sins, even the sins that seemed unforgivable — like murdering five of her children.
"No, I am not going to hell because Christ paid for that, too," Dut declared.
She soon brought her entire family to listen to the Bible stories. Dut's sister was next to receive the Lord. Within a year, the Rojases had shared the Gospel with all 120 Nu in the village. More than 60 accepted Christ and 20 were baptized.
Today John says God's presence continues to transform the village. Nu believers no longer worship spirits or visit witch doctors. Adultery, theft and other problems have dropped dramatically. What's more, Nu families aren't going hungry for fear of evil spirits.
"In the past I used to be afraid of death and would not hunt in the jungle," one Nu villager told John. "But now I know that if I die I will go to heaven because God sent a Savior for my sins.
"Now I feel free."
"USA (MNN) ― On July 10, Summer of Hope 2008 begins. Two teams of Native American and First Nations youth will travel through western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, bringing the Gospel to Native communities all over North America.
About 50 Native youth will travel with On Eagles Wings and Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, after attending training on July 8-9 and the Warrior Leadership Summit on July 3-8.
"They will be going right to the basketball court, right to wherever the kids hang out," said Ron Hutchcraft. "Then they put on some sports events, and they have live music with them and probably some pizza, snow cones and whatever. And in that context, all night long they'll be meeting the local kids."
Christians on the reservations are preparing for the teams' arrival and praying to overcome spiritual opposition. On Eagles' Wings will provide them with discipleship materials to continue the youth ministry after the teams leave.
At the beginning of August, both Summer of Hope teams will minister at the Native Olympic games, said Craig Smith, director of On Eagles' Wings. As many as 5,000 young Native athletes are expected to gather there.
Summer of Hope team members were required to attend the Warrior Leadership Summit. A total of over 700 Native youth representing 76 different nations all over North America gathered for the Summit on July 3-8. Such a large gathering of native youth in the name of Jesus Christ is almost unheard of, according to Hutchcraft.
"The words you heard over and over again were �I am not alone. I thought I was alone.' If you are a Native young Christian, you may be the only one like you. And imagine to walk in and...singing at the top of our lungs, �How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God.' I tell you, it just brings tears to your eyes."
Not all of the "warriors" that attended the Summit came as Christians. 90 Native youth responded to the evangelistic message Hutchcraft preached from Genesis 1, Smith said. Throughout the event, the warriors participated in large group praise and teaching sessions called Warrior Circles, and in seminars on specific cultural and everyday life issues called Battle Councils. The theme of the conference was "Breaking Free." At the beginning of the Summit, each warrior received a bracelet made to look like a chain. Every time God liberated them from an addiction, an idol, or anything rebellious against Himself, the warriors would tear a chain off the bracelet and throw it on the stage.
"By the time the week was over, the stage was littered with broken chains," Hutchcraft said. "The real story now is young people having been transformed by an encounter with Jesus Christ, now going back to all those reservations and reserves in Native communities across North America."
After 500 years of mission work among Native Americans, only 5 percent have become Christians. Adult Native Americans rarely come to Christ, and the youth respond to the Gospel even more rarely. People living on reservations have the highest unemployment rates in the United States. On average, their lives are 44-30 years shorter than other Americans, due to suicide and violence.
Communities ask the Summer of Hope teams to come, saying, "Our kids are dying. How soon can you come?" Hutchcraft said. "We prayed with our team last night that God would keep the young people alive, until the [other] young people can get there and tell their stories."
Hutchcraft continues: "Now these young people are going to be warriors for their generation and their people. They desperately need the prayers of God's people. We have a "Pray for Native Youth" kit that will equip you to be a prayer warrior for these warriors and make a decisive difference in what happens on a dozen reservations during the month of July."
has no universal, standard or fixed definition, but can be used about any ethnic group who inhabit the geographic region with which they have the earliest historical connection. However, several widely-accepted formulations, which define the term "Indigenous peoples" in stricter terms, have been put forward by prominent and internationally-recognized organizations, such as the United Nations, the International Labour Organization and the World Bank. Indigenous peoples in this article is used in such a narrower sense."
"..is an hour-long documentary about the personal story of Mohawk filmmaker Reaghan Tarbell from Kahnawake, Quebec as she explores her roots and traces the connections of her family to the Mohawk community in Brooklyn, New York...
To Brooklyn and Back
"For over 50 years, the Kahnawake Mohawks of Quebec, Canada occupied a 10 square block hub in the North Gowanus section of Brooklyn, which became known as Little Caughnawaga. The men, skilled ironworkers, came to New York in search of work and brought their wives, children and often, extended family with them. Little Caughnawaga: To Brooklyn and Back is the personal story of Mohawk filmmaker Reaghan Tarbell from Kahnawake, Quebec as she explores her roots and traces the connections of her family to the once legendary Mohawk community through the stories of the women who lived there. Check with your local PBS station for air dates and times http://www.pbs.org/cgi-registry/whatson/index.cgir
Visit http://visionmaker.semkhor.com to purchase this and other titles."
I heard an awesome inspirational story this morning at my local church this morning (Sunday, March 8th of 2008). It was a lady by the name of Bridget Volden, who is 70+ years "young". Here connection with Morris is through her now deceased husband (Bill Volden) 2 years ago this May. She shared her story of how she cried out to God to get rid of her alcoholism. It came during a time of desperation when her husband wanted her out of the house because he was tired coming home to see her drunk. Bridget Shares a Personal Story Part 1 of 3
"Growing up in a reservation in Canada and getting out to sharing the Good News. This is the first of three parts of her amazing story from drunkeness to sharing the goodness of what God can do to deliver others from this addiction. She shared this personal "miracle" testimony at Morris Community Church in Morris, Minnesota on Sunday, March 9th of 2008." "The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer."-Psalm 6:9 Bridget Shares a Personal Story Part 2 of 3
5. Bridget Volden's Itinerary the next two weeks
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Monday June 29th Morris Public Library, 102 E 6th St, Morris, MN
11:00 am - 1:00 pm Tuesday June 30th Stevens County Historical Society, 116 W 6th St, Morris, MN
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Wednesday July 1st Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance (PRCA), 630 Atlantic Ave, Morris, MN
11:00 am - 2:00 pm Thursday July 2nd Senior Community Center, 603 Oregon, Morris, MN
10:00 am - noon Friday July 3rd Evansville Arts Coalition, 111 Main St, Evansville, MN
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Monday July 6th Most Excellent Way, Marshall, MN
"..While the nun beat little Bridget nightly for wetting the bed, Bridget wished, "If only the rod had been round." Perhaps a round rod wouldn't hurt as much as sharp edges of the rod leaving welts and bruises up and down her back and legs. At her school 250 miles from home, nuns tried to teach indigenous children they were savages with no soul, but Bridget kept her spirit. In the appendix are Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology in Parliament to Canada’s indigenous people and response by National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine.
One of few published indigenous autobiographers, Bridget tells her story with grace and dignity. Excitement of her father as North-West Mounted Policeman in 1880’s; rich culture and history of her mother’s Dene' nation, and descriptions of Fort Simpson and Fort Good Hope in NWT provide background. An agent who cared, Papa, the Famous Flynn Harris, spoke 17 languages when Commissioner of Treaty 11 along Mackenzie River’s 2,500 miles...
"Just the title of the book recently published from authors Bridget Harris Volden and Ruth Thielke should send a shudder through any feeling person: “If Only the Rod Had Been Round.”
It’s a reference to the countless incidents of beatings and mental abuse Volden and other native kids suffered at the hands of cruel nuns in an
indigenous residential school in Canada, where part of the overall program was the take the “Indian-ness” out of the children.
If you were an Indian in the Catholic schools, your braids were cut off and you were given a uniform to wear. If you didn’t do as you were told – and, possibly, even if you did as you were told – you suffered beatings intended to blind you to what you were.
Volden’s psyche was so traumatized and the abuse so pervasive that one of her childhood wishes was not for toys or sweets but that she could be beaten with a round stick. It would hurt much less than being beaten with a flat, wide paddle preferred by the nuns.
The start to Volden’s life led to adulthood that also was equally painful in different ways. She struggled to make a living with little education, she struggled to keep her marriage to a Morris native, Bill Volden, intact. A life-long battle with alcoholism is on-going.
But Volden’s story also is one of redemption, of discovering a solid foundation of faith that sustains her and has steeled her to open up about the story of her life so that it might help others while also healing her.
“Throughout it all, she’s always had a sense that she was never living her life for herself,” Thielke said.
A story to tell
Like many people, Volden always had a desire to write a book. She wanted to tell the story of her dreadful experiences in the Fort Providence Indian Residential School in the far reaches of Canada’s Northwest Territories, and the subsequent years of alcoholism and despair that led her to a fruitful life in service to God and people also seeking to right their lives.
But, like many people, Volden wasn’t quite sure how to make good intentions meld with reality when it came to the arduous task of putting a life on paper.
Then came happenstance. Or divine intervention.
Volden’s husband died in 2004 and Bridget followed his instructions to have him buried in Morris’ Summit Cemetery, next to his mother. Bill’s nephew, Gary Gilbertson, met Bridget at the airport in Minneapolis and drove her to Morris.
Gilbertson did not know where to find the gravesite, so he called his friend, Neil Thielke, who, like Gilbertson, is a pastor in the True Bridge network of non-denominational churches based in Eden Prairie. Thielke and his wife, Ruth, knew Summit Cemetery but not where to find the gravesite. Once there, a caretaker was able to consult a map and direct them.
Bridget took time to weep at the gravesite and talk to her husband. Then, the Thielkes took Volden and Gilbertson to Don’s Café in downtown Morris for lunch, and it wasn’t long before the Thielkes became transfixed on Volden’s stories about her colorful and tragic family life, the Indian Residence Schools, the abuse and the tumultuous and yet rewarding life that by then was approaching 90 years.
The story became more personal to the Thielkes than they could have imagined. They discovered that Bill Volden grew up in a home across the street from where the Thielkes now live. For 30 years, Ruth Thielke was Registrar at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Before UMM was founded in 1960, it was the West Central School of Agriculture, which was born out of the Morris Indian School, founded in 1887 by the Sisters of Mercy Catholic Order. Bill’s father, Ed, was Business Manager and Registrar of the WCSA. While the Morris Indian School was forced to close, Congress ordered that Indian students were to be admitted free of tuition charges. Today, UMM still maintains a strong Indian tradition and the tuition waiver.
After her 2004 visit to Bill’s grave, Volden returned each year and told the Thielkes more of her story but admitted she was having trouble getting started on a book. In May 2007, she agreed to let Ruth Thielke help her get the book underway. In one story, Thielke asked Volden about her father, known as the Famous Flynn Harris, a man of Irish descent who was renowned in his humor and his role as an Indian Agent in the Northwest Territories. Journalists hungry for stories about the wilderness life of the territories hounded him for interviews but he resisted: As is noted in the book’s introduction, Harris replied, “If my story is to be written, it will be written by one of my children someday.”
Doorstep of hell
In a nutshell, the book delves deeply into Volden’s story to reveal that, at age 8, with 6-year-old sister Nora, she was separated from her parents and sent 250 miles to the Fort Providence school. Thielke believes that, in her heart, Volden is a tender caregiver and that that trait singled her out for extra helpings of abuse at the hands of the nuns. During her initial visit to Morris, Volden showed the Thielkes her deformed left wrist. A nun had beaten her until the wrist was broken because Volden was left handed and the nun wanted to ensure she never used the hand again. The fracture wasn’t set because there were no medical professionals at the school.
"Bridget had only known beatings in the Catholic Church,” Thielke said. “She thought God was a harsh judge out to get you.”
That hellish life continued until age 13, but even then the torment that gripped her continued. Her mother, Josette, was a member of the Chipewyan Tribe in Alberta. A kind, gentle woman, she was a talented artist who worked with silk and leather, but when she died, Volden was left to care for her father and siblings. When Flynn Harris died, he left no will and the children were left with no money.
“She had never planned a funeral, she was very nervous, very shy and unsure of herself,” Thielke said. “She had to put her three younger brothers in an orphanage.”
Volden was a full-blown alcoholic in her teens, working menial jobs with no diploma or experience.
“She was told to get a nice husband and then to go get her brothers,” Thielke said. “It never happened.”
Her sister, Nora, married a military man from Minneapolis, and Volden ended up there. She met Bill Volden in a bar, but is wasn’t the typical bar romance. The bartender did the matchmaking, telling Volden that Bill would show up after work as an accountant for a grain company, have a couple of beers, go home, and then come back later to help the bartender clean up, all to have a little companionship.
“She thought, ‘Oh, there’s not a man like that in the whole world,’ ” Thielke said.
But while the matchmaking ended in marriage, it didn’t end Volden’s drinking, which often was done unbeknownst to Bill and others.
“She was a closet alcoholic,” Thielke said.
Problems swelled in the marriage until, one year, Volden left work at noon, got drunk and forgot about her husband’s birthday and a dinner they had planned. Bill fumed and said he’d had enough. He went to dinner alone and the next day said he would buy her a ticket home, back to Canada. For the first time Volden turned to the God she once believe had nothing but contempt for her. She bartered with God for drinks.
“She just recited prayers and God spoke to her,” Thielke said. “She started bartering with God: Do I have to give up this drink? That drink? That went on for two hours. Every time God said no.”
Both Bridget and Bill quit drinking and Bridget found solace and support in Alcoholics Anonymous.
"She found that Jesus loves her and that was a big thing for her,” Thielke said.
Through the Bethany Community, the Voldens grew in their faith. Bridget started the American Indian Bible Fellowship in Minneapolis in the mid-1960s. They moved to Montana, first to Great Falls and then to Helena.
There were times along the way when Volden turned back to alcohol, especially when Bill was sick and dying.
“She told me, ‘If I could say the entire Serenity Prayer, I would be all right,’ ” Thielke said. “ ‘But if I would meditate on how lonely I was, I couldn’t and I’d slip.’ ”
Help all around her
For now, with the help of her friends in AA, Volden, now 90, is keeping her life together. That’s not to say that she didn’t feel trepidation at taking her life public in a book. Throughout the writing process, Volden continually pressed Thielke to explain why certain details needed to be in the book. Thielke would let Volden work through her feelings and misgivings. In the end, Volden seemed to know that a story about a woman‘s faith being tested constantly, from her very first memories and beyond, would be a benefit to so many.
The Canadian government believed it could play a part, too. Last year, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a public statement of apology for the treatment indigenous people suffered in the IRS school programs. The apology brought out others who told their stories of abuse at the hands of those running IRS programs.
But it doesn’t erase everything. Recently, Volden again suffered a slip and drank. She was devastated and turned to Thielke. And then to herself. She still feels the pain of the rod, but the pain doesn’t last long.
"I wasn’t surprised when the call came from Bridget,” Thielke said. “When she called a told me she was struggling, I wondered if she was going to make it through all these times – she felt like she let everybody down and she was afraid to go back to God. But then she said, no. I knew he would forgive me."
"The Native American Study Group of Evansville welcomes author Ruth Thielke to speak at the Evansville Art Center Thursday, June 11 at 7 p.m.
Thielke is the author of If Only the Rod Had Been Round.
The 213-page book is the true account of Bridget Volden's life. Volden grew up in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Her mother was an Ojibwe who married Volden's Irish father. Her dad was very well educated and spoke several languages fluently. He was an Indian agent and commissioner of Treaty 11 on the Mackenzie River.
Volden and her siblings attended the only school in the region, which was an indigenous residential school run by the Catholic Church.
Volden was severely beaten. Her nightmares continued into her adult life, and she became an alcoholic.
Her story is one of discovering Christianity (Jesus' love), recovery, forgiveness and hope. Volden helped start The American Indian Bible Fellowship in downtown Minneapolis in the mid 1960s. She was the director for 10 years.
Thielke, a native of Morris, is a cousin of Evansville resident Barbara Rieck.
Refreshments will be served.
For more information, call Sharon Henneman at (320) 834-4419."
OREDERING INFORMATION: yourbook.com "
Title: If Only the Rod Had Been Round
Author: Bridget Harris Volden and Ruth Thielke
Category: Biographies & Memoirs History Religion & Spiritual
Price: $ 16
Size: 6 x 9
Number of Pages: 213
ISBN Number: 978-1-60458-477-6
Publication Date: May, 2009
Books & Video References:
"Brucko", by Bruce Olson
I had the privilege to read this for a missions class thay my local church held each Sunday morning before church service one year when I was still in college (1999?)
Pocahontas: The True Story of an American Hero and Her
Andy Holmes,James Conaway / Hardcover / Ballantine Books, Inc. /