Peace to You - I was there
in his territory.
If there was opposition
from one faction, certainly, others balanced out that negative energy. As
Velma went from one church to another speaking to explain what O.I.O. was
trying to accomplish she was met with a welcoming attitude. Truly, these
were ready and willing to offer volunteers from their ranks.
“How can we help?” They
were interested and wanted to do what could be done, especially for the
“We need tutors and we need
you to come to the reservation. The children are more comfortable in their
own surroundings and it will be of greater help to them. We can set up a
place in the Tribal Building where tables may be used for studying.”
The churches began to
schedule their best people to tutor those children who needed help with
this or that class whether it was reading, math or some other problem
area. As it turned out the volunteers enjoyed the time spent more than
anyone. It was an opportunity to come on the grounds at White Eagle which
they may not have felt they had the freedom to do so before. There was
nothing that said no strangers could go on the reservation but the races
were so separate at the time. Most usually, an intermingling and
socializing were not practiced. Today those who love the casinos are not
reluctant to enter into the world of the Native American. However, they
still stay within the confines of the building and that area where the
games are located.
“One of the children held
up his hand with his fingers in a “V. Is that some sort of threat? Do you
know what that means?” A volunteer asked and wanted to know.
Velma smiled to think that
one of the kids had actually picked up the V for Victory or V for peace,
sign. “It is a sign to mean, “Peace to you.” She told the man.
He was relieved, “Oh!” he
said. “I was worried, and afraid he wasn’t happy because I was there in
“Children have a way of
understanding when someone is trying to help them. I haven’t heard one of
them complain about the opportunity to be tutored. In fact, I’m sure what
you are doing now will improve their life greatly, years from now.”
And so it happened. Many of
the children who were given this help have gone on to serve their tribe as
accountants, council members, nurses, health administrators, and actually,
in too many ways to mention. Education made the difference not only in
their lives but many benefitted from the services these people were to
perform. The grants, too, have provided knowledge for Native people in
this community so that Native and non-Indian population could be served.
Time passes and these are retirement age now, but they have had the
resources and desire to educate their own children and so the cycle of
poverty has been broken in so many lives. Those old ones are gone now and
Velma’s peers live with her in a brilliant memory that threatens to leave
her, too. They fought together with all the dedication and determination
they had to make positive changes and were pushed into the background as
aging, forgotten people in so many cases but they did not despair. Their
sacrifices were not made for materialistic, monetary gains.
“Is Joan gone?” Velma will
“Yes, yes, don’t you
remember that night at the hospital?”
“Oh yes! Yes, I do
remember,” she will thoughtfully recall.