A Story to Tell: Reconciliation and Rosebud

April 1, 2019

As the end of the spring semester nears, Dr. Doug Anderson reflects on the Rosebud Immersion Experience that the seminary has offered each summer for more than a decade.

Reconciliation.  The word is often defined as the restoration of friendly relations.  Conciliation.  A word within the word, conciliation is often defined as the action of stopping someone from being angry.

I see elements of reconciliation – moments of awareness, culpability, sorrow, and grief followed by expressions of the same, and responses that indicate the departure of some anger and the offer of relationship – appear during each week-long cultural immersion experience on the Rosebud Reservation in south central South Dakota.

In one situation, a person attending the immersion broke down in tears as an Indigenous speaker talked about the history of white Christian European mistreatment and abuse in the boarding schools.  It was a beautiful moment as he stood, approached the speaker, offered words of sorrow and confession.  It was a beautiful moment as our Indigenous speaker hugged the man and, smiling, compassionately said, “It is okay.”

Several years ago, the immersion group spent some time with a bull riding camp that was happening the same week.  It just so happens that the bull mentor was Cody Custer, a follower of Jesus who is in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and happens to be a relative of General George Custer.  Shane Red Hawk, a Lakota man whose relatives fought General Custer at Little Big Horn, was a primary organizer of the camp.  We watched as these two men encountered each other, worked together, and provided a bunch of kids with the experience of their lives.  It was a rather small event tucked away in a remote part of the Rosebud Reservation.  But for those were thoughtful, it was a monumental moment of reconciliation and a good step in the right direction.

When we travel to the Rosebud Reservation, we are intent on listening to hear, not to reply.  We are the ones who so desperately need what the Indigenous culture, a culture that has been present on this soil for 12,000 years, has to teach us.  Corky Alexander likes to say that evangelism is not a delivery system, it is a treasure hunt.  That’s well spoken.  Our task is to discover how God has been present in the Sicangu Lakota culture from the beginning.

Consider joining us and discovering that for yourself and be part of an ongoing journey toward greater degrees of reconciliation.

This year’s Rosebud Immersion Experience will be July 13-19.  The cost is $825 per person, and space is limited to the first 25 people who register.  Questions related to the experience should be directed to Doug Anderson at danderson@sfseminary.edu.

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