Thursday was my last full day on the Rez during this visit. I awoke with just a bit of sadness at this fact, but quickly shifted into work mode. As exhausted as I was at the time, it was daunting to think of spending another day working. But, as I did in the Corps, I just thought in my head "I can do anything for the next 24 hours. Tomorrow will take care of itself."
Thus geared for the day, I had breakfast, listened to the last Wisdom of the Elders from Ted, and we broke into our teams again. Yesterday's work crew headed out on tour, and my group headed for a trailer with the goal of skirting the entire thing in one day. Looking at the faces that morning I knew it would be no problem. This group was packed with excellent workers. True servant hearts. So we packed up the trailers, piled into vans and headed for the trailer.
We met a very nice family there who had set up their house in a buffalo field with an amazing view of the surrounding hills. Our group split into two teams, with one team starting on the front side, and another starting on the back. We had a friendly competition going, and since everyone now knew what needed to be done to get going, there was little instruction given by our leaders. Everyone just started working! It was inspiring to see.
Picture by Katerina Klavon
Before too long, it was lunch time. And we headed back to work. Finishing the entire skirting project in about four hours. We rocked it, plain and simple. I bonded even more with my fellow volunteers, which was fun.
Picture by Katerina Klavon
The crew, the family, and the finished trailer!
We headed back to the camp to get ready for supper and clean up the camp a bit. Kate and I went with Bryan to unload the garbage and pick up the pizza's that were for supper. While we were out, we drove through Whiteclay. A "town" just over the border into Nebraska. Population 14, and comprised entirely of liquor stores...oh and a western wear store tucked in to try to make it legit.
I had read about Whiteclay, and knew some of the problems that it created. But to be there weighed pretty heavily on my heart. Yet more proof that the Rez is off the radar of the majority of the people in this country. Google Whiteclay and read some of those reports for yourself. It is truly disgusting what happens there. It is as if AA were to start selling cocktails at their meetings or NA had a break in the middle to shoot up. It really is a big part of the problems that plague the Rez.
On a much brighter note, I also got to visit Bart again and see the finished decks that the team after us had put on his house. It was pretty cool. I also gave him a blanket that the Wife and I had purchased at a quilt sale at church. Giving a blanket in the Lakota culture is a way to honor that person, and I had been so inspired by his giving spirit that I thought Bart should get the blanket I had brought from our family.
Before the lesson that night, we were able to go up on the hill one last time to watch the sun go down. On this evening it was particularly spectacular...
Our last speaker of the week was Naomi. She is a teacher at the school and gave us a lesson in the Lakota language. She taught us the words for various body parts and then we played "Naomi Says". Like "Simon Says" but with Naomi as the leader and all in Lakota! It was pretty cool.
I am happy that the Lakota language is being taught in their schools again. After so many decades of the dominant society trying to extinguish the language in the hopes that the Lakota would become more "civilized", the young people are able to speak their own language again.
After the lesson I was invited to go back up on the hill with the group from Hope College to be a part of their last circle. They had been going up to debrief each night and on this night I was privileged to join them. It was exactly the right way to end my time there. There was much laughter and some excellent insights into the week we had all just shared.
That night I played Euchre with my new friends who had taught me the game the night before. I was partners with Jess, who is a euchre wizard.
And quite the character.
The game was going well for us, but when we got down to needing just one point for the victory, something strange happened. Jess picked up the two cards we were using for score keeping, tucked them behind her ears, entwined her fingers together with her thumbs pointed down, thrust them towards me and commanded "MILK THE COW!!!"
Being a neophyte in the world of euchre traditions, I had no clue what she was doing and found this a rather amusing and endearing custom. So I joined in the fun...
Picture by Allie Hoyt
Soon it was time to sleep. It was an amazing week, which I will try and sum up in my next posting.