Full Blooded Sioux
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18. Full Blooded Sioux

SiouxThe bishop was encouraged that many Sioux workers like Noisy Hawk, Point Blacklance, Wesley Bob, Estes, and Sister Hawk had become Christian leaders among their people. There are many ethnic groups and language dialects in the Sioux First Nation Tribe in North America. The significant subdivisions were the Santee, the Yankton-Yanktonai, and the Lakota. Our full-blooded Sioux Church Army Officers, speaking their native language, had a considerable advantage over whites. Captain Estes was helped once when two Mormon missionaries arrived on the reservation. As they tried to persuade the natives with their Mormon teaching, he very graciously explained in Sioux the difference between Mormon beliefs and those of the Christian Church. He especially emphasized the false Mormon teaching that Jesus was not truly God.

Sioux Brothers

Sioux Native GirlI discovered that I need not be concerned. The natives had a lovely story about an early white missionary's meeting with a Sioux warrior. The visitor inquired, "How do you make a full-blooded Indian into a Christian?" The tall bronzed Sioux man replied, "Only a full-blooded Christian can turn a native into a full-blooded Sioux Christian!" Indians knew of the disciplined lives of those early Christian missionaries and clergy. There were stories of them marching two by two along the street in matching dark trousers, black coats, and starched clerical collars with the bishop at the head.

Born Again Sioux

Appeal to the Great SpiritWe announced on the reservation and to the bishop the need for the Sioux native people to be born again. The new pastor and the leaders said, 'you must be born again. Aware of my new native status, I went from the Standing Rock Reservation to join the team ministry on Pine Lodge Reservation led by the Rev. George Pierce. In those days, my greatest desire was that the church should know an outpouring of God's Holy Spirit. George felt the same way too, but the people showed no interest at all. A few months later, while on a long journey, the solution dawned dramatically on me. I was driving at the time, and George was praying about the work as we went along. Suddenly, George burst into tongues, and equally clearly and repeatedly, the his words interpretation came to me. "Your message must be, You must be born again, cleansed by the blood of Christ. You must be born again, cleansed by the blood of Christ."

Holy Spirit Baptism

We had been wrong, wanting the baptism of the Holy Spirit for the Sioux people! Our message had to be, "You must be born again." We knew then that God would send others to follow us and build on that foundation of the born again Sioux. The bishop visited the different congregations for our farewell celebrations. A leading Sioux lay member spoke for the native people. "When we get our new Pastor," he said, "all we ask of you is that you make sure he is born again!" The bishop, a man of deep compassion and concern for his people, gladly agreed to this one condition.

Standing Rock Reservation

Standing Rock ReservationCaptain Ray Lewis worked with the Sioux First Nations people on the Standing Rock Reservation in Porcupine, South Dakota. When I had first come to work at Standing Rock Reservation, the church couldn't afford a salary of any kind. The bishop told me, "I don't want you to be in need!" "Bishop," I replied piously from Philippians 4.19, "My God will meet all my needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." However, several times after that a much-needed check mysteriously arrived in the mail with the note, "I don't like to leave all the burdens to the Lord!" His constant concern for our work was always appreciated and especially when he happened to drop into one of our services at the Standing Rock Reservation in Porcupine, South Dakota. ✞

South Dakota Service

Standing Rock LogoOur Lay-reader, Eagle Bull, led the service that day at St. Julia's, nestled among the picturesque pines, canyons, and cliffs in South Dakota. It turned out to be quite a marathon! First, we had a time of Gospel singing, then a testimony, then a full evensong service, and a call to a more profound commitment. We then laid on hands, which involved just about everyone in the congregation, followed by the bishop's sermon. That was not the end, for immediately after the service, we retired to a feast when many others got up to speak. Later the bishop quipped, "You are cruel to your bishop when he comes to visit you!"

Great Spirit Appeal

Scholars at the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia heard in their classes about the "End of the Trail" and the "Great Spirit Appeal" of the Sioux peoples. One day, George Pierce and I traveled together from the Parkway Pine Reservation. We talked about our upcoming ministry to over seven hundred boys at the very fashionable Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia. To help illustrate my address from the Chapel's pulpit, I held up pictures of these two well-known first nations warriors. The first one showed a warrior on horseback against the setting sun with his head dejectedly bowed to his chest called "The End of the Trail." In marked contrast, the second picture portrayed another Chief, this time with his hands triumphantly stretched upwards toward the heavens called "the Great Spirit Appeal." This bronze statue was created in 1909 by the American artist Cyrus Edwin Dallin (1861-1944) and showed a triumphant warrior appealing to the spirit in the heavens. Cyrus' most famous work now stands in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Other copies are produced in bronze, plaster, and paintings and are found elsewhere, including the White House. Cyrus was also an Olympic archer in his day and won a bronze medal in the team competition in the 1904 Summer Olympics!

Holy Spirit

End of the TrailAs I showed both pictures to the students, I explained what they meant. The Sioux have perceived the Great Spirit as the creator of the universe, and also the Holy Spirit revealed to the Church in New Testament times. To the boys' surprise, I then ordered, "Stand up, everyone." Raise your hands high to the heavens like this native Chief and, in honor of the Holy Spirit, shout, "Praise God!" When they did, I called out, "Repeat it!" The tumultuous cry echoed back, "Praise God!" Leaving the pulpit, I heard the Chaplain whispering to himself in amazement. "They did it! They did it!" He had been trying to encourage them without success to reply at Easter time with the response, "The Lord has risen!"

Bulle Fort Thompson

Street Sign Fort ThompsonInterchurch blessing happened on the Lower Bulle Fort Thompson Reservation as three different denominations joined together in a mission. We looked and hoped for a joyous inter-church blessing there in October 1972. The Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian congregations had decided to join together for a Gospel Revival in the spacious Tribal Halls. The clergy and I worked as a team with amusing consequences. A Roman Catholic Priest and I went out visiting together. If we thought it was a Protestant home, I would introduce him. If a Catholic one, he would say, "This is Captain Lewis, we are holding a mission together!"

Come to Jesus

Confirmation Fort ThompsonEach denomination made its particular contribution. The Roman Catholic nuns sang Gospel songs with a guitar accompaniment. Our Episcopal choir led the hymn singing, and we all took turns to read, preach, and lead the meetings each day. The Rev. Arm Clementine, the Roman Catholic Priest, invited us to a time of prayer and blessing. He surprised us by walking up and down the aisle showing everyone a picture called "Come to Jesus." One of those who came forward to the rail and knelt for blessing was the Roman Catholic mother of the Priest, who was visiting from Ireland. Afterward, the team blessed each other. I naturally stayed in the body of the church. As I hesitated, the Roman Catholic Priest, a man of great humility, came and knelt before me. "I need the blessing from you," he told me. We were both blessed on the Lower Bulle Fort Thompson Reservation that day.

"Full Blooded Sioux"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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