Wintertalk Reflection from Paiute Elder Jeanette Allen

March 21, 2013
By: 
Sarah Eagleheart

WINTER TALK 2013 - WEWOKA, OK - February 18-20, 2013

Greetings from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation in Nevada where within the reservation lay a beautiful desert lake that holds many of our legends and is the root of the Kooyooe Tukadu people. Within our reservation we have three communities: Sutcliffe, Nixon, and Wadsworth.  There are two Episcopal Churches located 18 miles from each other.  I was baptized and started my upbringing in St. Mary’s located in Nixon.  I currently reside in Wadsworth where I attend St. Michael’s.

Where my computer is located in my house I can look out my window and see a little white church with a cross on top and a larger one next to a red door.  Each day as I sit at my computer and gaze out the window it reminds me of how much I am blessed and to be thankful for, such as the training I was able to attend in Oklahoma.  I met new people and united with old friends and of course the meals and the staff were awesome.

The agenda layout for Winter Talk 2013 was great; the morning worship services bought peace to ones soul. I know I cannot capture or do justice to the workshop presenters they were fantastic.  I will try in this short synopsis of the following workshops I attended.

  1. Women’s Societies/Women’s Traditions: Nellie Adkins

In our busy lives I think I tend to forget how honored our Native American Indian women were and are to this day.  Although Ms. Adkins spoke of the ways her people did the pottery guild and spoke of the Three Sisters Gardens, it brought me back to our Nevada elders and what a powerful role that our Paiute women played in our community.  I thought of my maternal and paternal grandmothers and the strong role they had in community and the Episcopal Church.  I remember as a little girl going with my grandmother to the women’s church guild where they made beautiful quilts and where a community garden was planted and maintained by the community.  We no longer have an active women’s guild; As Ms. Adkins said these things should be brought back and not forgotten.

  1. Native American Art and Language: Jim Kee Rees

I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop; the energy and motivation that the presenter provided was phenomenal. He spoke of the four directions of Youth Ministry: a) Identity, b) Integrity c) Imagination d) Inspiration.  I once worked with youth in our Tribal School here on the reservation and the first thing that was a shock for me was how our youth struggled with ‘identity’. We need to take a step and look at our communities and to see what our youth are doing and how each of these four directions can help and what we have to do to step up and make things happen in a positive way.  What is it that they believe the vision of who they are how will they be inspired.  I liked the way that the presenter looked outside of our comfortable “Episcopal world” and networked with other agencies.  Looking for grants built on the needs of the community and not the needs of ‘me’.  Because of my love for music and our Paiute Language my vision is to bring our gospel hymns back into our church.

  1. Connecting the Generations through Traditional Activities: Mary Crist & Julia Bogany

The eye opener for me was that I had no idea that there were 350,000 Native Americans in the Los Angeles area and that they had an “Indian Alley” with a little Indian Doll with barb wire on a fence post.  It has been years of talking and still haven’t tried a talking circle with our young women in our community.  Our young mothers struggle with being single parents or in dysfunctional relationships and we still sit and talk about how we can make this happen.  These two ladies inspired me to ‘just do it’!  The ideas of the group becoming stronger and identifying them by making shawls with an emblem on them; also the Mother’s Day retreat and having the Native American Youth Cooking Circle.  Of course the real life video was very emotional but what a healing process that must have been and I imagine is still healing each time it is shown.

  1. Digital Storytelling: Isaiah Brokenleg

Participating in this workshop and the earlier one on networking gave me an idea on how this can be done.  We already have someone in our Tribal programs that are doing the digital storytelling and what a way to inspire our church group to get involved in this, the equipment is already in place all we have to do is talk and share.  This could provide outreach to our three communities.  Loved the clips Isaiah showed us, very creative.

  1. Asset Based Community Development: Sarah Eagle Heart

I attended ABCD training before and what I liked about this is how we divided into small groups this gave us a chance to share and talk with others on how to build relationships and to organize groups.  I came back from the first training motivated and ready to go.  I ended up being discouraged and felt alone.  I think a different approach was taken in returning after this training. This workshop helped me immensely.  Our small congregation is divided into 1) this is the way we did it and we tried that and it will not work and 2) those that want change based on the needs of the community.  We came back had a meeting, of course feelings were hurt but forgiveness was asked for and we finally have made peace with the two groups.  I learned that when you look at what is the common ground that both groups have then you can start with three questions: 1) if we were going to be the best church in five years what do you see? 2) When were you here, in church, and felt Gods presents? And 3) When were you here, in church, and you felt the best?

I do wish some of sessions were a repeat because I think the Advocacy 101 would have helped me and I was torn as to which to attend.

Pesa Ummeno,

Jeanette Allen