My father is Oglala Lakota/Sioux from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and my mother is Sicangu from the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Indian Reservation, both located in South Dakota. I lived among my mother's people as a child.
When I was 18, I participated with 600 others in the American Indian Movement's forced takeover and occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office Building in Washington, D.C. We protested the federal government's breaking of more than 700 congressionally ratified treaties with our tribes. For eight days we occupied the building and were surrounded by riot police. During this period, I allowed hatred toward white people to grow in my heart.
A few years later, however, after enduring drug and alcohol addiction, a stint in jail, and a growing despair over my lostness, I became a follower of Jesus.
Many tribes refer to North America as Turtle Island. More that 700 different tribes believe that Creator put them on this land long before Columbus got lost and "discovered" the New World. In Acts 17:26 Paul writes about how Creator pre-determined times and places for people to dwell in. We are the First Nations peoples of Turtle Island. It would appear Creator brought the Europeans to Turtle Island, too. Perhaps in Jesus, we could have walked together as brothers and sisters, forming a great new community of Christ. But it was not to be. Instead, our people suffered the horrors of genocide and ethnic cleansing. What makes the story most tragic is that biblical narratives were misappropriated to validate these atrocities. Thankfully, however, the story is not finished.
As I have reflected on my conversion experience, I am glad I did not find faith in Jesus in a church building; ...