VANCOUVER, WA—Wiconi International’s Co-Founder and President Richard Twiss, has been awarded the 2007 Val Joshua Racial Justice Award by the YWCA of Clark County, Washington. The award was presented on Wednesday, January 23, 2008, at the YWCA’s annual gala celebration.
“I'm deeply honored by this award,” Richard stated on learning that he’d been chosen. “We have been working the past few years to establish a stronger link with our local and regional community and this award let's me know that our efforts are beginning to be recognized. My hope is for Wiconi International and our staff to be seen as a positive source of support, partnership and contributors to the betterment of people lives in our local communities.”
The award, named in honor of its first recipient, is given annually to the Clark County individual whose “life and work demonstrate leadership in working to eliminate racism.”
According to the standards set up by the YWCA, the nominee “must exhibit significant involvement in the struggle for peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.”
Those who know Richard know that he certainly meets and exceeds these qualifications. He is an active community mentor, proactive national agent of change and well respected leader among the Native American Christian community.
An enrolled member of the Sicangu Band of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe, Richard was born on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. In 1972, as a teenager, he took part in the forced occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office Building in Washington, D.C., with the radical American Indian Movement (AIM).
As a result of these experiences, he knows some of the internal cultural, social, and spiritual struggles of Native American people today. He knows the pain of racial discrimination and injustice faced by many Native people, inside and outside the Church.
Richard’s life has been devoted to individual and collective “positive action” to create awareness and to eliminate racism.
“As a Native American, I am deeply committed to issues of justice and reconciliation that will heal the wounds of the past, produce viable solutions to the challenges of today and build toward a better future for the next generations,” Richard said.
He and Wiconi International are dedicated to empowering and equipping Native people to emerge into a significant place of ministry by encouraging reconciliation and healing within the faith community and around the world.
Richard was recently in Pakistan where he, along with Pastor David Gomez, served as bridge builders in an extremely volatile situation in an effort to see Christian and Muslim leaders come together in unity and reconciliation. Richard and David returned just ten days before the tragic assassination of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Richard understands the difficult truth behind human behavior and the historical circumstances that continue to breathe life into racial mistreatment, economic disparity and social/political power struggles, keeping people from enjoying and celebrating a healthy life. Above all, he believes and shares with people throughout the world the life-giving message that brings hope, healing and honor through Jesus Christ.
“Jesus is our example of humility and serving that we endeavor to follow in all our efforts,” stated Richard.
A co-founder of a number of organizations that work toward the same end, Richard is involved in the leadership of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) and the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous Peoples.
Richard is a co-recipient of this year’s Val Joshua Award with Jamie McCoy, the preschool director of Learning Avenues Child Care Center in Vancouver, WA.