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Being Mindful of The Ones Who Were Before

by Pastor Chris Neptun

 

A quick look at a November calendar reveals several days of remembrance and holidays. November is a month of gratitude, and we easily remember Thanksgiving. But there are other days we observe such as Veterans Day, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Each of these calls us to acknowledge and give thanks to those who came before us making the life we live today possible.

 

November is also Native American Heritage Month. November 25 marks Native American Heritage Day, the day after Thanksgiving. In the United States, we have long remembered the story of the Plymouth Colony which is an example of how much we depend upon things over which we have no control. It acknowledges, that those who arrived on the Mayflower certainly would have died if not for God’s providing for them the gracious and compassionate Wαpánahki people who cared for them and shared what God had given them in the way of food, clothing, and knowledge of survival. 

 

This is one story of thousands of indigenous persons who lived on the land we now live on. Walking the paths of the forest preserves in Lake County, looking at the majestic oak in my backyard and across the grounds of Holy Cross, I can’t help wondering about the people who lived on these lands and how we live here now. I am mindful of the relationships Holy Cross has built with the Lakota Sioux of the Two Strike Community on the Rosebud Reservation and the stories they have shared with us. I wonder about the stories of other peoples, their relationship to this land, and what they were and are grateful for.

 

Giving thanks to God, may we acknowledge the peoples who continue to live beside us and who lived here before us, for their care and stewardship of the land. May we also honor our relationship with them as siblings of the creator called to steward all of creation. May we specifically name those known to have lived at the place we call Libertyville: the people of the Peoria, Myaamia, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Ho-Chunk, and the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.

 

If you are curious to learn more about the peoples that cared for the lands before we did, please see the following resources:

The Library of Congress: Native American Heritage Month - nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov

Native Land Digital Očhéthi Šakówiŋ Territories - native-land.ca/maps/territories/oceti-sakowin-sioux/

Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma - peoriatribe.com/history/

 

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center - potawatomiheritage.com

The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma - miamination.com/node/11

 

The Ho-Chunk Nation - ho-chunknation.com

 

Kansas Kickapoo Tribe - ktik-nsn.gov/history/

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