Saturday, December 22, 2012

Newtown Prayers and the Dakota 38 Horse Ride

On the ride at Fort Ridgley, Minn. 12/23
We are with the Dakota 38 horse ride... 

Fresh off their 3000 mile healing trip to Conn., some young members of the Red Lake Delegation to Newtown will join the final miles of the 300 mile Dakota 38 Commemorative Horse Ride, uniting prayers from around the world and symbolically including the grieving community of Newtown through red prayer ties that will adorn their horses as the Dakota 38 riders conclude their three week journey in Mankato, Minn. with a closing ceremony 10 AM on December 26.

After giving comfort and support to Newtown students in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, Minnesotans Justyn Oakgrove (11), Courney Oakgrove (10), Logan Oakgrove (8), Caleb Smith (8) and their parents will be bringing heartfelt prayers along with the red prayer ties that were part of the healing ceremony at the Newtown Middle School the morning of the Friday 9:30 AM moment of peace.  These sacred red ribbons have been brought back to Minnesota and the four children are riding to honor those who have died and to offer prayers that no other child will lose their life due to violence.  One horse is specifically dedicated to the memory of Jessica Rekos (6) who “loved everything about horses” and according to her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos, she had asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat. “Jessica loved everything about horses,” her parents said in a statement. “She devoted her free time to watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about horses.” 

The red prayer ties from this Newtown ceremony will adorn horses on the Dakota 38 Memorial Horse Ride
“We will ride to honor Jessica and the other kids,” said Caleb Smith.  “Although she never met any of us, we are connected because of the horses. Our prayers will hopefully help her family heal.  Hopefully all the families and children heal.  Prayer is the most important thing I can do and somehow it’s easier to think and pray when you’re quiet on a horse.”

The Minnesota children spent several days with Newtown Middle School students, enjoying therapy dogs together, eating lunch, sharing culture and joy during a Christmas program, and observing the silence at 9:30 AM on Friday morning as the bells tolled for the victims of the shootings. 
They were the incarnate well-wishes from around the world as they shared hugs and songs and smiles far behind the media lines.  Along with other members of the Red Lake Delegation who had come to deliver a dream catcher plaque given to the Red Lake Indian Education Program by student survivors from Columbine in the aftermath of the 2005 school shooting, they went to Conn. to share prayers and hope. 

Prayer Ties: Dakota and Ojibwe and many other tribal cultures use tobacco prayer ties as a way to honor people.  These red ribbons have a small pouch of ceremonial tobacco tied to each end will be displayed on horses, along with the flags from the Newtown Rotary Club and the Bloomington Minnesota Rotary club whose administrative efforts connected the 2005 Red Lake School shooting survivors with the Newtown survivors.  After the horse ride, the ribbons will be cut in half, creating two ties, each with a single tobacco pouch. Half of the ties will be shared with the Governor’s Horse Brigade, a special honor guard that attended the funerals, and the other half will travel with the Dakota Commemorative Ride until the unity ride this August. This symbolizes the connection between those who are on the prayer rides and those who have lost so much. 

 In case you are able to join us on December 26 in Mankato Minnesota USA:

  1. DRESS APPROPRIATELY: Wear dark colors as a sign of sorrow with a brightly colored scarf or arm band as a sign of hope. Also remember to arrive early (before 9 am to assure time to park and get into places) but PLEASE: Do NOT crowd around the Buffalo sculpture because that area needs to be kept open for the riders.
  2. WALK in SOLIDARITY: Persons desiring to demonstrate their sorrow for the past and solidarity with the riders should walk behind the horses to the memorial site. Those willing to walk the 2 miles from Land of Memories park may meet there, or fall in line along the way after the riders pass along S. Riverfront Drive. (There is parking in the High School and School and Cub Foods parking lots)  If you are unable to walk, please wait near the library until after the horses and runners have arrived at the Buffalo sculpture.

    For more details: