Zero to Dream Job in 90 Days!

Day #78 Rosebud Part 2

Photo from illustration of The Gift of the Sacred Dog, by Paul Goble

The first day waking up in the tipi was incredible. I snuck out quietly and watched the sun come up by the river. One by one people joined, started a fire for breakfast, cooked up bacon and eggs, which never tasted so good! We washed our faces and brushed our teeth in the river and began to do the dance of living in a group and forming routines.

Part of the program involved us doing “bread labor” part of Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine. “The economics of bread labor are the living way of life. It means that every man has to labour with his body for his food and clothing. If I can convince the people of the value and necessity of bread labour, there never will be any want of bread and cloth. I shall have no hesitation in saying to the people with confidence that they must starve and go naked if they will neither work on the land nor spin and weave.”(H, 7–9–1947, p. 316)

Today’s work involved cleaning out chicken and rabbit coops to use the manure to help make a compost piles the Lakota way, mowing the grass, watering plants and work on a brick wall for our host family. We all took turns doing the tasks and when it was my time to shovel the chicken coop, it was no problem I thought. I had a horse when I was growing up and cleaned his stall every day. Well, chickens are a different animal, literally. The methane gas in the chicken manure is strong and I got a headache so bad that I had to go lie down in the grass for a while. The next person to do it wore a home made mask and was fine and I worked on learning the layers of the compost pile. It was a good morning and after a hearty lunch, we took a ride into the town of St Francis to hear some of the history of the relationship between the school, the church and the reservation.

The history was hard to hear. The first building of the Spanish style church and boarding school was built in 1885. We met with some local historians and teachers from the school, which still runs today. The Native children in the 1800s were taken away from their families at age 6 and left at the boarding school. Their heads were shaved, they were not allowed to speak their native Lakota or see their parents. They told us stories of children running away again and again to get back to their families, even though they knew they would be severely punished if caught. They found children frozen to death on the Plains, trying to get home. Those were terribly hard things to hear and an awfully tough afternoon.

The next day, we went to the White Calf Women’s Shelter and participated in more bread labor after a talk with Tillie Black Bear, about the history and needs of the shelter. We washed and painted all the walls, washed clothing, sheets and towels and unpacked donated toys and games, sorting and arranging them in the new children’s room. A very emotional and rewarding day!

Then came the work of preparing poles for the Sundance, the sweat lodge and the crazy dreams! But that’s for tomorrow, Part 3!

12 Days to go!

Writer, poet, educator and humanitarian

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Kathy Blackwell

Kathy Blackwell

Writer, poet, educator and humanitarian

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