Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Preparing for National Native American Heritage Month

As I try to help gain permits and work on logistics for upcoming events, I am struck by an odd dichotomy...we will place National Native American Heritage Month on our calendars and "study" the Indians in school classrooms, but historically it has been  difficult to recruit schools, government to assist with a  Dakota-led event during this heritage month this November.

Please don't get me wrong.  Each location has a veritable grocery list of completely reasonable excuses why it won't work or what they are already doing that day.  And this is without requesting anything as a handout.  I don't disagree with the reasons.  I'm not throwing stones.

I get it: We're all too busy, too planned, our lives too structured... We don't have a policy for that.  We have another event.  We won't have time to clean up.  We will be closed.  We've never done that before.  We don't have enough time to plan.  We don't have enough details.  We don't know what the weather will be.  It might be cold. (No -- it WILL be cold). We might set a precedent.  We might have unseen risks and liabilities.  We have so many other good things we are doing...We don't have a council meeting far enough in advance to get it approved..." All legitimate.  All legitimate, yet all still excuses and the result is the same.  We can't say we want to help and then not help.  We can't say we're supportive and then not support. We simply can't have it both ways.  Look in the mirror. Maybe we're not as altruistic and wonderful as we'd like to think of ourselves.

Somewhere deep inside I continue to hope that some truly noble group will actually set aside their calendar, their agenda and their process to meet others where they are. There are some members of the interfaith, Rotary and scouting community that are really stepping up...WONDERFUL!  We're going in the right direction. I continue to hope that I will meet people who recognize that sometimes things don't fit into a neat little check off box on a form.  I have found that those untraditional, unplanned and unexpected opportunities often lead to blessings of exponential proportions.

If we want to point fingers at the event organizers who choose November 7-13, 2012 to have a commemorative march, then let's point them at the military, federal/state politicians who scheduled the Trail of Tears forced march of 1700 Dakota women, children and elderly from Morton to the Fort Snelling that took place November 7-13 in 1862.  It was cold that week too.  So the date was set for this event 150 years ago...

It's one thing for a group to easily throw "crumbs" because it wouldn't hurt to share.  It's another to respond to a request for assistance and choose to help, even if it actually would require a sacrifice of some sort.   Rather than giving lip service to a celebration date printed on the calendar, let's stop honoring the day and choose to show honor to someone who honors the day. I'm excited to learn of many who are choosing to help, not out of guilt but truly out of love.