Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sioux Falls Argus Leader begins 8-day feature on "Growing Up Indian"

It begins today with "Culture in Chaos Steals Promise of Youth."

Check the "Voices" section as well for Tim Giago's recollection the prejudice encountered in his youth.

These are unsparing looks at pain lived out in South Dakota but produced through actions of the United States - and there's historic church complicity as well.


David Handy+ said...

Heartbreaking stuff. I must admit that although I grew up in Sioux Falls, I never really had any clue what life on the reservations was like.

Thanks for posting this, Tim. Its commendable that the local paper is publishing this indeed "unsparing" and brutally honest look at how hard life is for the Lakota people for whom the state is named. Talk about "the least of these..." Lord, have mercy.

TLF+ said...

Coming in as an outsider (and in SD that means I am an outsider to the Whites as well - let the reader understand), the most evocative illustration of the Indian perspective that I heard was related by a friend.

A Lakota man came into a classroom of Whites, and asked them to write down the 5 things most precious to them, one each on separate pieces of paper.

He then went from desk to desk, taking two or three pieces of paper from each and tearing them up.

That, he explained, is the Indian experience.

Anonymous said...

Having spent some time on a Navajo reservation just outside of Albuquerque as a child, I can attest to how bad things can be, and that they've gotten progressively worse. But I do have to say, that over the past few decades, the lives of poor US citizens, black AND white, have gotten as bad, including for their children. Not trying to diminish what these indigenous children have to face, but it shouldn't be a competition, and the media doesn't cover that.

Yes, the US government is complicit, but in more cases than not, tribal governments are as well. Here in the northeast, you see tribal governments exploiting power. I know people from California tribes, who tell me about their members being kicked out of the tribe, merely for standing up for themselves against abuse.

I don't what more to say than all of us are in the same boat, because there are people exploiting corrupt ideologies, and betraying their people, whether it's in wider US society, or in tribal societies. The only solution is for good people to unite together and confront these corrupt ideologies.

TLF+ said...

Hi, anonymous. Thanks for some good insights. Your comment about how the same problems are in many settings reminded me that there was one comment in Sunday's article, where the young Lakota woman talked about doing better in large cities than small SD towns because Rez life had prepared her to deal with the hazardous parts of urban life!

That "angel and devil on each shoulder" image in the article really resonated - there are people trying to do good in all settings, and corrupt people doing harm as well. As the Bible tells us, there are a majority who are "helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" and their plight moves him to compassion. May we be so moved in all the places God sends us.

David Handy+ said...

Thanks, Tim.

That illustration about the random destruction of all that is most precious to you as characteristic of the tribal Indian experience is extremely powerful and really strikes home.

As for the comment made by Anonymous, yes, there is no point in comparing the plight of various impoverished and exploited groups. Although I must say that even the worst black ghettos here in Richmond (e.g., Gilpin Court, Jackson Ward) can't seem to compare with Pine Ridge, where unemployment and alcoholism rates apparently hover around 80% or more.

But sadly, the real tragedy may be that both ghetto blacks and reservation Indians seem paralyzed and stuck in a victim mentality. Yes, they've been victims of abuse and oppression, but the worst part might be that they've internalized that victim role in society and lost all hope that things can be different.

And that's where the gospel comes in, as a message of invincible hope, based on the reality of the resurrection power of God demonstrated in raising Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3; 3:15). Yes, faith, hope, love abide, these three; and the greatest of these may be love. But sometimes, what people need the most is hope.

And in the end, in a cruel and often unjust world, we Christians have the only real source of unfailing hope.