To Come to a Better Understanding: Medicine Men and Clergy Meetings on the Rosebud Reservation, 1973-1978

To Come to a Better Understanding: Medicine Men and Clergy Meetings on the Rosebud Reservation, 1973-1978

To Come to a Better Understanding: Medicine Men and Clergy Meetings on the Rosebud Reservation, 1973-1978

To Come to a Better Understanding: Medicine Men and Clergy Meetings on the Rosebud Reservation, 1973-1978

Synopsis

To Come to a Better Understanding analyzes the cultural encounters ofthe medicine men and clergy meetings held on Rosebud Reservation in St. Francis, South Dakota, from 1973 through 1978. Organized by Father Stolzman, a Catholic priest studying Lakota religious practice,the meetings fit the goal of the recently formed Medicine Men's Associationto share its members' knowledge about Lakota thought and ritual. Both groups stated that the purpose of the historic theological discussions was "to come to a better understanding." Though the groups ended their formal discussions after eighty-four meetings, Sandra L. Garner shows how this cultural exchange reflects a rich Native intellectual tradition and articulates the multiple meanings of "understanding" that necessarily characterize intercultural encounters. Garner examines the exchanges of these two very different cultures,which share a history of inequitable power relationships, to explore questions of cultural ownership and activism. These meetings were another form of activism, a "quiet side" without the militancy of the American Indian Movement. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and archival analysis,this volume focuses on the medicine men participants--who served as translators, interpreters, and cultural mediators--to explore how modern political, social, and religious issues were negotiated from an indigenous perspective that valued experience as critical to understanding.

Excerpt

On the evening of February 13, 1973, in the basement of a St. Francis Mission parish house on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, two groups—representatives from the newly formed Medicine Men’s Association (MMA) and Jesuit priests from the mission—began a conversation that continued across eighty-five sessions over the next five years. the dialogues, referred to as the Medicine Men and Clergy Meetings (MMCM), took place in a historical moment shaped by more than a century’s worth of diligent efforts by colonial authorities, such as the Jesuits, to eradicate Lakota culture and a window of opportunity provided by changing sentiments about colonial projects on a national and global level. There was common ground for the two groups—medicine men and clergy—as each performed roles in the community as, respectively, Lakota and Christian ritual specialists. Transcripts from the first meeting state that the purpose of the conversations was to come to “a better understanding” and it is clear from the mma participants that they believed their participation would result in real, beneficial, and concrete changes in the material world of their community. the participants agreed to record and transcribe what Marquette University (2015c) describes as a “historic Dakota-Christian theological dialogue.”

Exactly two weeks later, on February 27, 1973, another meeting took place one hundred miles away on the neighboring Pine Ridge Reservation. During this meeting members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and a group of grassroots reservation activists (the Oglala Sioux Civil . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.