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I trust that all is well with you and your family in these days of great challenge and opportunity for good! Katherine and I are so happy to tell you we will become first-time grandparents in 2012! Our son Andrew and his wife Diana and our son Ian and his wife Toni are expecting their first children. I've always said children prepare their parents to be amazing grandparents. We can't wait!
We all know that significant changes in our world are needed on so many levels. Please read of the ways Creator is allowing us to make positive changes in the lives of Native people, like Joe, Glen, Theo, Nizhoni and Paul.
Tribal leaders are desperately working for change so that simple things like having enough good food, adequate housing, escaping the ravages of alcohol and drug addiction, healing from boarding school abuses and having the necessary support to build strong families and cultures are possible.
Mr. Joe Garcia, former president of the National Congress of American Indians, thanked me recently in Portland after Wiconi's 4th Annual Tribal Leaders Prayer Breakfast. He said, "What you are doing by organizing and hosting your tribal leaders prayer breakfast is so important. We have been working hard and diligently for years to improve the conditions of our tribal nations. Thank you for helping us to remember to keep our spirituality, our prayers, in front of us as our most important work."
A changed life: Tears welled up in my eyes listening to Glen tell how he was no longer ashamed to be Native American. He was grateful for his change of heart that he experienced as a result of his participation in our annual Living Waters Powwow and Family Camps. Before leaving his reservation, his father told him, "They won't hire you if they know you're Indian." So, Glen said, "I didn't tell anybody I was Indian once I moved away. As a result, however, I became ashamed of being Indian. But this is no longer true. I am proud to be Indian because that is who Creator made me to be." Glen attended because he received a camp scholarship. Your gift does make a difference!
In 2010 I logged 130,000 miles traveling. While I spoke to tens of thousands here and abroad, helping them to understand the contribution of native/indigenous people to Christian faith, it unfortunately, also prevented me from participating in local native gatherings. This year I traveled 60% less because Wiconi International embraced a new vision and mission statement, part of which says we are "a locally-based organization." I felt, how can I travel and talk about these things without living out the good news of the Gospel story among the people in my own community where I live every day? Our Wiconi staff and network are working diligently to better serve the people in our community.
- I finished a wonderful first semester as an adjunct professor at Portland State University teaching a class on Native American Religion and the Sacred.
- My son Daniel and I were formally “initiated” to become traditional Gourd Dancers at the first annual Portland Gourd Dance Celebration.
- I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Native American Youth and Family Center of Portland (http://www.NAYAPDX.org).
- I will be serving on a Committee for Race and Equity for the City of Portland and Council of Spiritual Leaders for the Multnomah County Commissioners.
- Gary and Mary Ann Eastty, our volunteer coordinators, have developed great opportunities for friendship to grow between local native organizations and the faith community.
Historic change: We are so excited and privileged to tell you that in August 2012 we will launch The Salmon Nation – an internship learning experience to mentor young men and women to become better human beings in the spirit of Jesus. We will need $150K in start-up capital to launch the Salmon Nation. Theo, a young native man and college student here in Portland will be one of our first interns. He will graduate with a BA from a local university, yet acknowledges his need and desire for more equipping and mentoring before he pursues the next phase of his life. Many other young leaders, like Theo, are inquiring, recognizing their need for further spiritual development. Will you help us launch the Salmon Nation internship program to mentor emerging young leaders like Theo?
In July 2012, hundreds of native people will gather together at our 8th Annual Living Waters Powwow and Family Camp. Over these past seven years we have become a loving, caring community. Some of the children, like Nizhoni who was only 7 or 8 when she first came, is 14 or 15. Others, like Paul, were 12 or 13 and are now 19 or 20. These are formative years. They consider their participation at family camp a significant spiritual and cultural influence in their lives as followers of Jesus. We would love to have you join us at Family Camp in July to meet some of these remarkable young people whose lives are influenced for good because of the generosity of friends like you.
Wawokiye is the Lakota word for “generosity.” The sharing of one’s time, possessions and life is not determined by the amount one has of these things. Sharing comes from a love and care for the well being of other people. Even if only a little, something can be shared.
I am asking you to become a generous friend and partner with us and in doing so, I am saying that we choose to be your generous friend and partner too. Know that all of our Wiconi staff and I look forward to your correspondence and would love to pray with you.
Please take a moment to make the greatest possible changes for good for people like Theo, Glen, Paul and Nizhoni!
You can make a secure online donation by clicking here
This year has been a huge struggle for us financially! Be assured every dollar is being leveraged for optimum benefit for those we are serving. Also, please consider becoming a regular monthly supporter because this is so important to our organizational efficiency … important and spiritual work.
We pray for Creator’s great blessing in your life in 2012! Lila Pilamaya – “thank you very much” for your generosity and friendship as we journey together in the ways of Jesus.
Richard & Katherine Twiss, Sicangu Lakota
Co-founders, Wiconi International