"In several recent diocesan visits, I've had interactions with Native American members of this church or questions about ministry in Native communities.
When I visited Minnesota in May, Bishop James Jelinek arranged for me to meet with the Department of Indian Work in Prairie Island. The Native community at Prairie Island operates a lucrative casino and serves its members by providing housing, education, health care and ministry with and care for elders.
The members of the Department of Indian Work had important questions about Native ministry across this church and how it's supported and directed. We visited the 100-year-old church at Prairie Island and learned something of its particular ministry.
The same evening, we visited All Saints in Minneapolis and shared a meal at First Nations Kitchen, a longstanding feeding ministry of that church community. The aim is to serve "indigenous food that is wholesome, healthy and organic in an atmosphere that is joyful, friendly, and welcoming" (see www.firstnationskitchen.org).
Soon thereafter, I met with our new Native missioner, Sarah Eagle Heart, who will work out of the Los Angeles regional office. She is a member of the Oglala/Sioux tribe and when I visited the Central Gulf Coast in late May, she was present for a meeting with the Poarch Creek Band.
The story of this band is remarkable, as most of its ancestors were "removed" by the U.S. government in the 1830s and sent to Oklahoma, along with most of the native peoples of the southeast – Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole and the Muscogee Creek – on a journey known as the Trail of Tears. The Poarch band members secluded themselves in the woods, and in 1928 the Bishop of Alabama heard of their presence. He sent a missionary, who began to develop ministry with these people, also suffering under the beginnings of the Great Depression. Their federal recognition in 1983 largely depended on the records kept by the Episcopal Church."
Get the Story:
Katharine Jefferts Schori: Learn about Native American concerns
(Episcopal Life Online 7/2)