A quick look into the gap group debriefs

By: Lyn Nelson

Each night our gap group would get together to debrief on long day we had just had. We had some pretty intricate discussions on issues and topics that were brought up throughout our experience on the reservation so during our meetings I would jot down some quotes that group members discussed throughout the week and said during our meetings.

Mind you these may seem out of order, but these are all direct quotes and ideas that came from our various nightly discussions.

Debrief 9/13 : What has the group been feeling since we’ve gotten to the reservation?

  • When we visited Wounded Knee I felt as though I was part of the reason it had occurred and deep down I felt guilt
  • When we visited the grocery it made me realize how lucky we were to have multiple grocery stores at every block, their one grocery store had no more than any gas station would
  • I felt empowered to get the word out back home
  • I was in awe that despite the conditions people on the reservation were still extremely kind and welcoming
  • It made me realize how much about Native American history we don’t cover throughout our education systems- we never seem to go in depth
  • I felt comfortable going to Wounded Knee, the speaker we heard was positive and I don’t believe we should feel responsible
  • I’ve been feeling frustrated and enraged at the injustice, it feels like we haven’t learned about this in our school systems
  • I’ve felt obnoxious and touristy
  • I realized how much it really meant to be here when Ted told us to bring a pen and pencil to every worksite in case we were able to exchange names and contact information with the kids at the various houses
  • I felt pressured when the speaker said it was up to us to save the kids lives
  • I’m excited to connect with the kids
  • Felt it would hard to directly make an impact, but our speaker helped emphasize our importance
  • I’ve learned to be aware and to take away as much as I can from this opportunity
  • Ted (the Director at Re-Member) made things seem tangible
  • I’ve felt less prepared and now I want to learn more about the suicide rates and the underlying problem
  • I’m not a very religious person so nothing about the visions and quests seemed to go though to me
  • Some of the speakers we’ve heard have seemed very adamant
  • I felt confused when the speaker said not to take pills counselors provide because I truly feel these pills could help with the suicide rates and depression going on
  • Made me feel guilty for taking these kinds of prescribed pills myself
  • These kids really want and need the attention
  • The Badlands landscape is something you don’t see often
  • I realize everyone’s here for a different reason, I was frustrated with the people around me making lots of noise during our solo time, they were being disruptive
  • Life here is going to be hot, you just have to accept that
  • The land the Indians received have very little resources
  • Interesting to see that they close down the visitor center
  • I realized how quiet the Badlands are
  • I had a hard time reflecting in the Badlands because we didn’t understand the significance until later in the week

9/14 Why are things the way they are here? (our questions)

  • Why are the housing conditions so poor?
  • Why is everyone’s house so spread out?
  • Why are there so many suicides
  • Why is there so much sexual abuse if children are considered sacred?
  • Why is there such a disconnect with the rest of the world?
  • Why is trash so prevalent on important/precious lands?
  • What is the “true” truth?
  • Why is they culture being lost?
  • Why are Indians considered to be the past?
  • Why aren’t they a part of our economy?
  • Why don’t we use the term, “our relatives” to be more inclusive like the Indians use?
  • Why isn’t the Nation putting fourth effort to change these laws?
  • Why is there a lack of opportunity that creates lack of drive and passion?
  • Why is all the focus on African American racism and nothing has been brought up with other races as prominently?
  • Why is their language and culture dying out when there’s so much emphasis on culture?
  • Why are Indians so giving and welcoming despite their troubles?
  • Why in one of our most progressive time periods are we still struggling to accept?
  • Why are we focusing on helping other countries and not prioritizing our own?
  • Why don’t Indians just leave the reservation? It’s not like if they leave they are leaving precious land or resources behind.
  • Why if Indians are so invested in family and children is it so hard for parents to attend school meetings?
  • Why do we perpetuate our reservations?
  • Why aren’t people being educated about these situations?
  • Why does there seem to be a limit in our education systems about this culture and history?

9/15 Figuring out some of the whys.

  • There is a very limited water supply on the reservation
  • People are very welcoming when others cant afford to own a house which is why these small houses are so crowded
  • Shocking the amount of information I truly do not know about the reservation
  • Never hear about anyone with power coming to help out these people
  • It’s going to be hard to communicate what we see during this experience but we are going to need to go into our conversations with positive intent
  • Some families even burn the bunk beds we deliver to them down for heat in the colder months
  • The needs don’t go away with the help out there
  • How much is the helping really helping, don’t they need to be able to do some of this on their own?
  • Could there be a learning community to teach people how to do these things?
  • Why don’t they just hire the natives- except for the fact most people would not be able to afford it?
  • Why aren’t there more Natives hired at Re-member?
  • Are we providing needs or wants?
  • Suicide crisis- transformation of pain down to other people but not in a selfish way
  • They don’t seem as comfortable using medication- disconnects people spiritually- how does this lack of medicine really harm people on the reservation that may benefit from taking it
  • The large number of people in these houses could be considered tight knit communities
  • They’re trying to build back what they have lost
  • They are a hurt culture and hurt cultures tend to decompose
  • Being an electrician or Taco Bell employee wasn’t originally part of their culture- they’re doing these to mold into a culture they don’t necessarily desire to follow
  • Lots of disconnect between on and off the reservation
  • Back lash of the boarding school error
  • Most people have the ability to leave the reservation but they don’t want to leave their people
  • These people are not used to living in homes
  • Kids are told there is a “better” place out there = suicides

9/17 What did we learn?

  • During service work you just need to go in there and do your job without feeling pity- that puts the Indians seemingly lower than you and they are our equals
  • Don’t go to a reservation to meet Indians, go there to meet friends
  • I learned what a reservation was like- I was so ignorant beforehand
  • There is still a thriving culture and hopefully it will stay maintained throughout our lifetime
  • I learned how to listen
  • They have troubles but they aren’t troubled people (they still have hope and faith)
  • Just because a house is hurting doesn’t mean the people inside are
  • I learned reservations seem “isolated”
  • Reservations and the people living on them are underrated
  • It seems like a confused era- it’s hard to adjust and re-identify themselves
  • These people are not ancient people they are very much still here
  • One of the tightest knit communities I’ve ever witnessed- all related spiritually and through blood
  • They aren’t directing their anger to us as individuals- there are non native people that still have lots of apologizing to do and there are natives that still need to come out and truly say how hurt they are so we can resolve these larger issues
  • We’re able to learn about other parts of our history that were bad so why is our Native American history so brushed over
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