The Maxfields

The Maxfields

Friday, December 26, 2014

A History Lesson

Joshua Tsavatewa is the Children's Director at Sacred Road Ministries. He recently sent out the update below regarding a trip he took with Wendell Lee, a Yakama elder back to the east coast. He talks about the Indian Boarding Schools and their place in Native American history. It is very well done and, with his permission, I thought many of you might be interested in learning more about this.

As you read, keep in mind the ministry Joshua has with the children of the Yakama Nation. Joshua could use partners to come alongside him in prayer and finances. Financial partners that might come alongside him to help with his personal support as well as to fully fund the needs of the Children's Ministry. If the Lord so moves, here is the link.

Dear Friends and Family.

“And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.”  Exodus 2:24-25

We recently covered the story of Moses with the children and this passage has been on my mind, and it’s long been one of my favorites. I love the sequence of God hears, God remembers, God sees, God knows, and then God MOVES, as the story of the Exodus then unfolds. His timing is not always ours but He is always at work. 

I’ve also thought about that passage because of recent events. At the end of September, Wendell Lee and I traveled to Pennsylvania for the East Coast Talking Circle. While we were there we went to Carlisle to see the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. In my letters, I haven’t talked about much of the past regarding Native history, and most of you have a general grasp of the tragic history.

Sadly, few know of the legacy of the boarding schools. Until the 1970s, thousands and thousands of Indian children were taken (often by force) from their families and raised by strangers while their culture was systematically destroyed and/or undermined. There are countless stories of neglect, abuse, mistreatment, and death. The schools were always run by whites and usually had Christian denominational ties. The schools have left many scars on Native communities, and the influence is especially seen today with many parents and grandparents who do not know how to love or care for children, as they were not loved as a child.

Carlisle was the first Indian Boarding School, and its founder famously said, “Kill the Indian, and save the man.” So when Wendell and I went to Carlisle, it was with very heavy and sad hearts. It was made even worse when we visited the old campus. It’s now a military base with no memorial to what happened. There’s barely any recognition of the hurt and pain that Native communities experienced and still feel today that came from those schools. Wendell and I had just been at The Talking Circle where we both shared about how Native communities feel forgotten, invisible, and ignored. Then we visited Carlisle to see one of the most important events in Native history brushed off. It’s not exactly the same, but imagine if Auschwitz were a giant German military base today with a few plaques? 

Carlisle, and every other Indian Boarding School, has a cemetery. 186 children are buried there. A few weeks ago, Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald spoke here on the Yakama Reservation regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Process in Canada and the trauma of Canadian Boarding Schools. He pointed out, “What kind of schools have cemeteries?”  At Carlisle, and all the others, hundreds of children died, and when you read their stories, it breaks your heart. I walked through the cemetery at Carlisle and read off the names – names that also belong to children I work with: Charles, Alfred, Maggie, Anthony, Lucy, Leah, Robert, Elizabeth, Percy, and so on. I also thought about the pain and heartache they face because of what was inflicted on their grandparents and passed on to them. 

There’s a lot of pain, death, hurt, and sadness in Native communities, and when I got back to the Rez, it all kind of overwhelmed me. I began to feel overcome by grief and despair. I talked with Chuck about my trip to Carlisle and it became clear that I can be nowhere else but here, working with the kids here to give them hope in the light of Christ. I thought of John 6 when many disciples leave Jesus and Jesus asks Peter, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter responds, “Where are we going to go? You have eternal life.” At times, it appears the light is going to be snuffed out and darkness will triumph. However, we, like Anna and Simeon, hold on to the promise, and believe in the one who has eternal life. 

We also know that the story of The Exodus is replayed over and over again in our lives and in others. God hears His people’s cry, remembers His covenant, sees the pain and hurt, knows our weakness and that we are dust, and then He Himself comes to deliver us. 

I write all this so you can have more insights into what we face here and how you can pray for us. I know God’s people have been praying for White Swan for many years and He is moving here. It’s a wonderful thing! Many are coming to faith and walking with God. But there are 310 Reservations in the USA, and 961 Reserves in Canada and I don’t know about the Indigenous communities of Latin America. But there are hundreds of pockets of poverty and darkness with layer upon layer of sin and sadness. Thank you for your continued prayer and support and please pray especially that God would bring more people and reach more Native Peoples. Pray that God’s people cry out on behalf of Native people, that God would hear His people, and He would move in Native communities. 

Here a couple of links if you want to find out more about boarding schools:
Here’s a great article from the Washington Post regarding a visit to Carlisle, and the story of Ernest, son of Chief White Thunder.

Rabbit Proof Fence is the best movie dealing with boarding schools. Aboriginal boarding schools, but basically the exact same as what happened here. Here’s the Trailer. Watch it; it’s a powerful movie. 

Here are some pictures I took at Carlisle. 

Please pray for us during the Christmas season. It’s very busy and the roads can get icy.

Please pray for me as I’m now teaching the lesson for the Middle School kids

We’ve been averaging 70 teenagers for Youth Group on Tuesdays, and as a result split them so the High school kids meet downstairs and the Middle School kids meet upstairs. It’s a great problem to have too many kids!

We took a record 95 teenagers to the Corn Maze in October, and it was a huge success, lots of fun, and a great outreach. 

We had an awesome Art Day in November! You can read and see more about it by clicking here

Grace and Peace,
Joshua Tsavatewa

Address (mail)                             
PO Box 223                                 
Harrah, WA 98933                                              

Address (support)
Sacred Road Ministries
PO Box 400
Harrah, WA 98933

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