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American History
Faith and Worship

      The employees at Chilocco Indian School were strongly grounded in their Christian faith whether it be Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist or any other. They must have had some orientation of some sort to give them definite guidelines for respecting the student's beliefs. At the time I was there in 1955 even the Native American culture was being allowed. The Indian Club was made available for any who wished to belong and participate. This is a picture of my beautiful friend Heawatha, who is no longer living. Whether Mrs. Wapp helped her with this buckskin dress or whether it was her own I do know know. It is a beautiful and accurate representation of the plains peoples ceremonial dress down to the perfect shawl and to the fan she holds.

      These were the days before competition was so much a part of the Native American ceremonies. The religious significance was more of importance and the reverence, I think, comes through in this picture.

      My father's faith was tied up in his ancient Scottish ways,  I believe. It was a simple teaching and couldn't be tied to any formal religion because he pulled away from all religion. He could not accept the modern ways of teaching that tied into commercialism, materialism and competition; therefore, he stuck just to the teachings of Christ which he pointed out were all about loving one's neighbor. He didn't dominate us with it but carefully pointed out the reasoning behind such thinking. It always made sense to me and I never had any desire to pick up a formal teaching or faith while I was there at Chilocco, although we were encouraged to attend services on Sunday. If a boyfriend invited you to Sunday services, of course, you would go. I knew about dressing up on Sunday through my Uncle's still yet strong ties to his faith.

      In this way I probably became the most educated person as far as tolerance was concerned. Later on in college my class, “History of Religion,” further widened my knowledge out to the total world's religions.

      At Chilocco one week a service was staccato like, orderly, reverent and with beautiful music. Another service the next week would be a speaker who reasoned with the students in a rather paternal like, manner. My father had already studied extensively with me regarding certain dogma and I sometimes wondered why the speaker had not researched more carefully.

      Still another speaker would be a podium pounding, energetic, fire-breathing-advocate  for saving our souls from hell-fire. Mostly I kept my head down so as not to giggle at the thought of how sinful could we be? There we were almost, virtually prisoners in a rigid military regime. How much sinning could we do when we were scheduled so tightly to such a close timing that we actually had little time to make an error. Of course, I know some of the kid's did slip out at night which was called “night hawking.”  However, if they were caught, and they usually were, the consequence of expulsion was too great for me to even think about. Why would I take the risk of losing this one chance I had for a high school education. It was unthinkable.

      Today at this time in my life when sometimes folks stand in straight obedience to their faith and have fear  their children by being exposed to another religion will destroy them, I'm thankful, even more, for my father's gentle teachings of Christ like love. Even though I was exposed to other's beliefs I always remembered my father's extensive studies with me that nothing is greater than Christ's teachings on love. Dad taught us Christ's simple truth; in kindness and respect for others below, do not set one person above another, not even for a year, a day, or an instant. It was what brought early day pilgrims to this land so that they might be free of kingly domination. It is what gives us respect for each person's abilities and talents. It is a wonderful way to live and frees us from so much anguish so we can then appreciate our God given gifts and other peoples as well. Granted in these days it is difficult to maintain any of these values, still, for my own peace of mind, I cling to my Dad's teachings learned from Jesus Christ, our King who has a Kingdom, (a government) the perfection of which we cannot even imagine.

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