This is our WHY -- By Lori Ventimiglia
This year we've seen first hand that even in the darkest times, maybe especially in those times, the best of humanity can be easily found. We count ourselves blessed to witness this more often than can be counted. While, this has been an extraordinary year in so many ways, what stands out the most is the kindness from our Tipi Raiser's family. YOUR support this year helped us pivot and find our way, from a calendar packed with in-person events, to an immediate and ongoing response to a complex and fluid situation that was - and is - unfolding on Pine Ridge and other Indigenous communities.
Our commitment to you, as stewards of your hard earned resources, is born from the same place as our commitment to the Indigenous communities we serve. It comes from a moral obligation to answer when there is a call for help, to listen deeply and work alongside those we serve to restore self-determination, dignity and healing.
The real magic of this work is our WHY - and it is not easily quantified. Of course, we are proud to share that you have helped us achieve the following outcomes in 2020:
"There is a story that I have told that involves a hummingbird, as I look at the smiles on my children and then the reason why, I would like to thank The Tipi Raisers for the opportunity to meet and make connections with people all over the place, from England to the West coast. Each of those connections made are seen by me as pin holes of light. As I look back over some of them connections made go beyond the title of Friend and goes straight to family. I looked around and see that in my own way I'm the hummingbird in my own story. For those that have been lucky enough to have made that connection we are blessed".
We've said it before; this is slow work- the fruits of which won't likely be seen in this lifetime. But we believe that a layer of mistrust and wounding, passed down through generations, gets peeled back when we're in our WHY and that is when a little bit of healing can happen. And, ultimately, we believe it is that healing that might be passed down to future generations.
Please know that YOU, too, are at the center of our WHY. Our Tipi Raiser's family is the special sauce, it is where the magic happens and makes all of this possible. We look forward to working and playing alongside you again in 2021 and thank you for the sacred trust you have endowed in us.
"When I think back to the “me” that stood over the sign-up sheet for a trip to Pine Ridge with the Tipi Raisers in my sophomore year of college, I think of someone who hadn’t woken up yet. Someone hoping to make a difference, but who hadn’t quite arrived at the “why.” Someone who knew of the ongoing injustices committed against Indigenous communities, but who did not fully grasp the manner in which myself, and all people who look like me, continue to be complicit in them. I wanted to make a change, but was occupied with all the things modern life tends to occupy us with, and my plans of the impact I hoped to have in life definitely outnumbered the actual experiences I had to show for it. I held, and still hold, much privilege that had kept me from truly seeing others and my connection to them.
And then I spent a week on Pine Ridge with a handful of people from my college whom I did not yet know well, Tipi Raiser's Executive Director, two of his children, and countless new Lakota friends. We all became a family that week. Work felt like play, every night was marked with hilarious antics and eye-opening conversations, and I realized that the “why” at which I had not yet arrived was not a “why” at all; it was a “who.” The work mattered because the People mattered. The Spirit that was moving and working through all of the people we met that week, and every Tipi Raisers trip I’ve been on since, has made me understand that we do not exist in a vacuum; we need one another. We exist in connection with everything and everyone in this world. The phrase “Mitakuye Oyasin- We are all related” had been taught to us non-Native volunteers earlier in the week by a Lakota elder, and it has resonated more and more with every passing day. 3 years later, I am still humbled by the way the Tipi Raisers community continuously lives into this way of being. It is a community which shows up consistently for the people whom they serve, for the difficult and important work of reconciliation, and for unity across cultures towards a more just and caring future.
Even if I cannot fully put into words the “why” behind my motivation to continue to work with this incredible organization, I know the “who.” Each and every person (and horse; shout out to my favorite Tipi Raisers horse, Okiniha!) who I have come across in my work with the Tipi Raisers is a reminder of the fact that we are all related. We have an obligation and a sacred duty to work with and for one another. Though I have so much more to do in order to even begin living up to that obligation, it is an honor to be able to do that work alongside the Tipi Raisers and the Oglala Lakota People who have generously opened my eyes to so much".
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
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