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Velma's Work
Valiantly Velma - Page 22

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 Indian children.

“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 his territory.”

“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 ask.

“Yes, yes, don’t you remember that night at the hospital?”

“Oh yes! Yes, I do remember,” she will thoughtfully recall.

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