Some of you may have followed on Twitter yesterday that I went along with the Flandreau Indian Students to chaperone a school outing to a Pow Wow in Sioux Falls. We don’t celebrate Columbus Day in South Dakota but recognize Native American Day instead. The South Dakota legislature voted to make 1990 the year for reconciliation between the white and Indian populations. They voted in this day of observance as a way to work towards that healing.
The school tries to do things that help the students learn more about their heritage. Like many cultures, history and traditions are lost when elders die and younger generations forget what has gone on before. You’d be surprised how many of our students have no real idea of their heritage or what it means to belong to the particular tribe that they come from.
I think maybe South Dakota itself is beginning to realize what a uniquely American heritage the Indians have, a heritage that goes back hundreds of years, years before European settlement. The Sioux Falls School District announced this fall that it will offer the Lakota language (local Indian dialect) as a language elective in their schools next fall. Also, PBS in North and South Dakota will be airing episodes of the Berenstain Bears in the Lakota language to reach the younger generations who are highly impressionable in retaining language. These are all amazing steps in preserving a heritage that is part of our country’s heritage as well.
I had the privilege of arranging a meeting of two individuals during the Pow Wow. I met an older gentleman who was dancing in the Pow Wow and he asked about one of our runners on the cross country team who has been running exceptionally well this season. He said cross country running had helped him travel all over the world and he wanted to encourage the student in his efforts to keep on going. The runner was with us at the Pow Wow so it was exciting to be able to arrange a meeting between the two.
It was a greater thrill that the meeting became important to both of them. I introduced them and then left them to share but Griffin’s Facebook status last night was priceless. “Talking to me about running... Each step is a prayer.” (photo posted above) To be able to introduce wisdom from the older to the younger was exciting for me to be able to facilitate.
Psalm 145:4 “One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.”