Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dakota 38

"DAKOTA 38" Trailer from Smooth Feather on Vimeo.

What a joy to spend the evening with nearly 100 people packed into the basement of All Saints Church in South Minneapolis to watch this film again. Each time there is some other nugget that gets my attention in a new way. The ride visionary Jim Miller and his wife were present for Q&A afterwards. (The movie doesn't do justice to his tall stature!) He challenged us to stop blaming others and to find ways to bring healing -- beginning with our own families. As he looked at Caleb who was snuggled up on my lap he said "Remember to hug your kids. Tell them you love them."

The evening ended with the reading of a proclamation signed by RT Rybak acknowledging the historical trauma that indigenous people have experienced and a litany of well-documented harms that most Minnesotans are unaware of. The reading was met with hearty applause in a room that was a mix of grey haired elders with both white and dark skin and a smattering of 30-40 something parents and a handful of elementary age kids. Saint Paul has provided a similar statement that was read to the group.
My opinion about the process does not matter -- but rather the Dakota people themselves. There were many who were visibly moved. Others wept. Others clapped. Others just smiled deeply. Some just sat silent, soaking it all in. This evening struck a nerve as person after person related to the group their family heritage and their connection to history. One Dakota woman said "Tonight was like shedding layers off an onion."

And the response from those like me with white faces -- well -- many had never heard this story before. So parts of the movie were met with gasps and sighs as they heard new-to-them information. And predictably, the room was full of hearty laughter when the Great grandson of Medicine Bottle mentioned riding the horse that nobody wants. In that moment he became a real person that everyone in the room could relate to in some way. Tonight people saw people not race. It was a very special evening that I hope can be the start of something replicated across our state.