Reconnecting People | Once a property has been restored, Urban Homeworks works to connect neighbor to neighbor to create a livable, robust community with a strong sense of home. The result is a rich exchange between households that reweaves a sense of community through day-to-day activities.
Breanna Schneidermann, Urban Neighbor
This is a reality for American Indians in Minnesota. On a recent Urban Neighbor trip, we spent time discovering American Indian Sacred Places and learned that within almost every state park in Minnesota are reserved plots of land that can’t be touched out of ‘respect’ for the sacred places that existed there way before we claimed the land for our parks. What that means is that our American Indian friends have to pay an entrance fee to step foot into their own sanctuaries. I know I would think twice about how often I went to church if I had to pay an outside/unrelated organization to do so – I might also feel a bit of righteous indignation.
Shortly after, we drove to one of the first concentration camps in US history and found out that it’s the site where the families of the victims of the largest single-day execution in American history (The Dakota 38) were exiled. We sat in a circle on the soil once-stained by native leaders, then followed our guides, Jim Bear Jacobs and Bob, as they talked with us about being spatially-oriented as American Indians. They step onto this sacred ground and feel everyone who has walked on it before them and asked us to explore the realms of possibility that are opened when we embrace native spirituality in the way of Jesus... Jim Bear reflected on the liberation that came to him when he realized that he can be both Native and Christian—and that his Christianity takes on infinitely greater dimensions when he gave himself permission to understand it as both/and rather than either/or.
I appreciated the hope that both Jim and Bob expressed and the grace they extended as they discussed the horrific history. It challenged my perspective on forgiveness and reconciliation… It shaped the way I view my American Indian neighbors. It made me wonder, would I be able to forgive if outsiders claimed my church property as theirs and made me pay to get to it?