Guest Blog on Standing Rock: ELCA Pastor Joann Conroy (Oglala Sioux); This Day in History

ELCA Pastor Joann Conroy (Oglala), President of the American Indian/Alaska Native Lutheran Association, wrote the following guest blog in response to the recent arrests of water protectors opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Today I am still struggling with the horror of Thursday and the continued abuse and dehumanization of the people who are jailed. I know that many people are rallying to support Standing Rock . We attended a rally in MN yesterday to ask the Hennepin Sheriff to withdraw his officers, who were at the front of the abuse. Every state that has law enforcement in North Dakota should withdraw them ASAP.

In my truth , President Obama can now stop the slaughter of our people, culture, and life.

As a pastor I have preached and counseled Christs’ Grace , love, sacrifice and humanity. I know that all is true but where was it for the people?

What does it mean to say today: “the Lord is the strength of my life; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27) What does it mean to say: “I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; wait for the Lord; be strong; let your heart take courage.” (Psalm 27) Where is the word of life when hearts are shattered? How do we stand together against white privilege, racism, discrimination and the “power” of officials?

We will return to Standing Rock in the days to come . Will continue to work to rally support even as I wrestle with the horror of October 27, 2016.

Wopila (Thank you)
Wolakota (peace)

Pr. Joann, President

This Day in History: Native American Languages Act (1990)

On this day in history in 1990, the Native American Languages Act went into effect. According to Wikipedia:

Congress found convincing evidence that student achievement and performance, community and school pride, and educational opportunity are clearly and directly tied to respect for, and support of, the first language of the child.

The Native American Language Act of 1990 has been a counterbalance to the English only movement and has been the catalyst for bilingual education on the reservations.

It is important to note that a quarter century later that Native American students still don’t thrive in the traditional U.S. education system and Native American communities struggle to preserve their languages. Locally, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council issued a 2011 report on the state of Dakota and Ojibwe languages. It opens with these lines:

Minnesota’s most enduring languages are in danger of disappearing. Without timely intervention, the use of Dakota and Ojibwe languages – like Indigenous languages throughout the globe — will decline to a point beyond recovery. These languages embody irreplaceable worldviews. They express, reflect, and maintain communal connections and ways of understanding the world. Deeper than the disuse of vocabulary or grammar, the loss of an Indigenous language is destruction of a complex system for ordering the relationships among people and the natural world, for solving social problems, and connecting people to something beyond themselves.

This is related to the pipeline issue.Native American communities have faced a long history of forced assimilation and efforts to take their land, language and culture. Language revitalization is another area where the broader community could stand with Native American communities to help preserve what was unfairly taken.

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