We had a great time with some new friends from Bethlehem this last week end. Sixteen of us left Friday morning and headed up to Cass Lake MN to minister to the natives in the reservation. Greg Mott, our leader, has a real burden for the people of Cass Lake. He takes his family up there about 4 times a year and tries to include others that will go. We were able to take up over 500 packages of gifts for the people. On Saturday we drove our big truck full of the gifts to a housing project parked it and started talking with people, before we knew it there was probably 25 people in line waiting for their gift, and they just kept coming till we were just about out of gifts. Later that evening we were able to attend a POW WOW, a celebration of native culture.
As I have contemplated what we did up there I am still reflecting on the effectiveness of continually giving things to those people. They seem to be given everything they need to live and have become very dependent for survival on the gifts of others. Discussions with some of the women revealed that they have learned to live and raise their children without Husbands and fathers and have actual come to prefer that circumstance. The more I think about it, I am coming to the conclusion that the thing that could help the most would be a concentrated effort toward the men. I am not sure what that might be.
The traditional family model has almost completely broken down. For a people that are concerned with preserving their heritage, culture and religion that is passed on orally by story telling, the lines of respect for fathers, husbands, elders is almost none existent.
At the POW WOW one of the Elders gave a convocation in their language. As he spoke he was almost totally ignored. I think it was merely a matter of formality but there appeared to be norepect for the process. An interesting side note, I was asked not to take pictures during this part of the ceremony as a matter of respect.