Weeping With Those Who Weep at Red Lake Reservation
The memorial fence extends for nearly a football field in
length in front of the
Standing silently before the memorial fence, I reflected
upon the similarities and differences between our Columbine tragedy six years
previous, and this latest horrific attack at
After only ten days had passed since the second worst school violence since Columbine, all visible evidence of the news media was . . . gone. The parking lot across the road from the memorial was empty. No uplink trucks, no interview booths with national news personalities interviewing students, parents, teachers, and anyone else who had a story to share. . . No candlelight vigils with weeping students and parents . . . In fact, as I visited the site last Friday on a beautiful sunny day, the tenth day since the tragedy, there was NO ONE at the fence other than myself and my three friends. I was absolutely astounded.
Those of us who were in Littleton six years previous remember all too well the MONTHS of incessant media presence, the day and night vigils around Columbine High School in all kinds of weather, and the growing mountains of flowers, cards, memorabilia, signs, banners, and endless expressions of grief and sorrow. Our city was overrun by people from all over the world who came to hold vigil with us, see the school for themselves, and mourn. In the second week after the tragedy at Columbine, our community held a rally in a nearby theater parking lot with over 50,000 people in attendance, with the Vice President, Governor, and many, many other dignitaries and visitors from all over the world. Funerals were broadcast internationally, and the world wept with us over the tragic loss of thirteen innocent victims and two perpetrators.
No such rallies have occurred or are planned for
According to 15-year-old Ashley Lajeunesse,
After Jeff Weise shot through a window, he marched into the classroom
There are many reasons why the reservation was so resistant to opening their hearts and grief for the world to see. Some of the reasons were entirely legitimate, in that the Tribal Council wanted to protect their people in a time of very private and heartbreaking grief. As one who witnessed the often insensitive media circus that swirled around our own community, I can heartily agree with the Council’s effort to minimize the pain to the families.
On the other hand, the lack cooperation and a Tribal Public Information Officer who could assist the media in their legitimate efforts to report the news made it nearly impossible for people in the media, many of them sympathetic, to get stories. The result? The world moved on, and now many on the reservation feel a certain bitterness over what they perceive as a lack of care and concern for them by the outside world. It’s a clear “Catch 22” situation.
An article by Nick Jans in USAToday delineates the situation as clearly and succinctly as any I’ve read so far… Go to http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2005-04-04-redlake-denial_x.htm
Much was accomplished during my time at
Standing before Alecia White’s body at her wake, I choked
back tears over the death of such a beautiful 14-year-old girl who was
well-known for her Christian witness at
Later, I had the honor of passing out and signing over 200 books to family and friends. Many shared with me how thankful they were for the book, in that it helped them to feel connected to another community that understood their pain. “You have come from so far to stand with our people,” said one of the elderly, hereditary Chiefs I met. “Thank you for this honorable kindness.” Hearts touched, and cultures were joined briefly in grief. At Officer Derrick Brun’s funeral, his elderly father embraced me in a bear-hug and shared tears with me. The proud old man tearfully looked into my eyes. “You have honored us by coming in this time of sorrow. May God bless you!”
I was also given the honor of singing a special song at Alecia’s wake. Many wept. During my time there, I gave out over a thousand copies of my book, The Martyrs’ Torch – The Message of the Columbine Massacre.
Accompanied by Darrell Auginash, I was afforded a rare
meeting with the Tribal Chairman, Mr. Floyd Jourdain, in his office. After
expressing my condolences on behalf of our community, we stood in a circle
holding hands. I prayed with Chairman Jourdain and a few members of his staff. I
found him to be a sensitive man and compassionate leader to the people of
Knowing the pain and stress that emergency responders often endure, especially at the scene of such violence against children, I also met with the Red Lake Fire Department and Paramedics. Darrell, myself, and some other friends cooked up some deer hamburgers and Indian fry-bread for the firefighters. The Chief of the Department gave me a patch to share with my home department.
All in all, my time was well-spent, with hundreds ministered to, prayed with, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit upon us all.
I was honored to stay in the home of Darrell and Corky
Auginash. Darrell is an Ojibwa Indian who lived all his life on Red Lake
Reservation. His mother, brothers and sisters, and their families remain there
to this day. His nephew Ryan survived a .40-caliber bullet to the chest in the
school shooting. As a Christian of many years and a
If any of you desire to minister to the people of
THANKS FOR HELPING ME GO!
I conclude with the following scripture. . .
“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”
Blessings to one and all!
"Mino-Baamaa-Di-Zan" (Ojibwa for "See ya later!")