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“Te biggest thing tribal people

can learn is that people who are coming are actually interested in their lives rather than just being seen as clients or objects of mission.” Tat’s a critical lesson. A major

Will Peters shares songs about life on the reservation with immersion participants visit- ing Pine Ridge.

“Trough immersion, visitors

can learn Native Americans have long had their own spirituality,” said Kate Adelman, an associate in min- istry who serves House of Prayer at the Navajo Evangelical Lutheran Mission in Rock Point, Ariz. “Tey understand God through nature. Tey do all the things we do that we assign to religion. Tey have worship ceremonies … and when tragedy happens, they gather in community.” Te immersion programs evolved

within American Indian ministries that had relationships with congre- gations through mission or financial support. “Many of the groups are from

congregations that already have a long-term relationship with minis- tries they visit,” Straw said. “Many who go on these immersion experi- ences come from quite a distance, concerned more with the strength of the relationship than with how far one must drive.

Author bio: Knowles is a freelance writer and former religion and business reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times.

challenge these ministries face is how to build trust among American Indians who have had a long history of being deceived and have had bad experiences with some church groups treating them as projects, not people. Te immersion programs have helped break those barriers. Being asked to share who they

are gives American Indians an opportunity “to speak their truth, and that’s healing,” Adelman said. Tribal member Earl Arkinson has

spoken to some of the immersion groups at Rocky Boy’s Indian Res- ervation in Montana. His goal is to help break down stereotypes while sharing his beliefs.

Leonard Little Fingers leads a discussion on history and culture with a group at Pine Ridge.

Loni Whitford-Taylor, another

tribal member, said the tribe also benefits from the programs by learning about other cultures. “One of the biggest takeaways

from the program is the importance of how Christians engage a cul- ture outside their own,” said Bekki Lohrmann, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Joliet, Ill., that has had members visit Oaks. “It’s important to enter in a way that’s respectful, dignified, engaged, fair and repre- senting Christ.” 


Bridge Builders • July 23-29, 2016 An intentional week of camp in New Era, Mich. for high school

youth (grades 9-12) to grow as leaders and join the fight against racism as an expression of faith.

30 full scholarships and travel assistance for non-Michigan residents available for:

• At least 20 participants of color • Up to 10 white participants

Programming emphasis includes leadership, race equity, and peer ministry training. February 2016 31

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