Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

PineRidgeSignLater this month eight members of Kairos-Milwaukie will head east on our long-anticipated trip to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota to volunteer with Re-Member.

We’ll have the great good fortune to be out on the prairie at the edge of the badlands, under the vast bowl of the highland sky. We’ll move across that ancient landscape to learn and serve. We’ll visit the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and have lunch at the home/restaurant of Bette a descendent of Black Elk, just up the hill from the site where he narrated “Black Elk Speaks.” We’ll begin each morning with the “wisdom of the elders” and end each day learning from Lakota speakers, singers and artisans.

During the day we’ll put our hands to work, building bunk beds, putting skirting on house trailers (it can make the difference between being able to heat a house for the whole winter or spending your whole fuel bill before January arrives), building wheel chair ramps, and fixing, sanding or painting whatever we are asked to fix, sand, or paint.

Why Pine Ridge? Why Re-Member?

Because Pine Ridge is the home of the great Oglala, Lakota people. Because Oglala Lakota County is the poorest county in the whole of the United States, and the tribe has an 89% unemployment rate. Because right in the middle of the richest country in the world, some of our first peoples endure grinding poverty. Because it is a joy and an honor to be welcomed to someone else’s home, to enter their land and landscape and to encounter their history. Because Re-member doesn’t just give wealthier people an opportunity to feel better about themselves by helping the “less fortunate,” Re-Member invites volunteers into relationship with the resilient, proud, financially impoverished, culturally rich, complicated human beings whose lives are lived in the crucible caused by the failure of the US government to honor its treaties. We go to give and to receive. To abide together and be reminded that we belong to the same family of humanity.