A Pilgrimage to Standing Rock August 2017

In August 2017 nearly 30 Trinity youth and adult parishioners and staff traveled on pilgrimage at the invitation of Deacon Brandon Mauai and the Episcopal Church in Standing Rock, North Dakota, beginning a potentially multi-year relationship of learning and support.

For a deeper dive into the pilgrimage, and to hear pilgrims speak about their experience, watch Trinity’s short documentary video:

Ready to learn and grow!

We joined the Standing Rock community during their August pow-wow, a rich gathering of the extended tribe, which brings in other drumming circles from around the country as well.

The camp grows and grows as the tribe gathers from across the Dakotas
The traditional and the modern dwell side by side at every turn on this trip.

Their most clearly valued investment is the next generation, who are often at greatest risk on many fronts. The ones who are able stay and take root attend the powwow with an impressive embrace of the tradition.

Dancing goes on all day for all ages - some of it becomes incredibly athletic and spectacular. And always the drums and chanting provide the base that carries the movement forward.
Deacon Brandon and Fr. John grill up a fantastic barbecue for us pilgrims
The tables are spread for us with such generous hospitality. It feels like loaves and fishes.
Later, we get to participate, as we are asked to help prepare the final feast for the powwow.

On Sunday we joined the local congregation for worship. Familiar Episcopal rhythms blend with local custom to create an experience of depth and intimacy.

Fr. John describes the Winter Count blanket behind the altar, a traditional way to depict history in symbols — here is the entire Gospel of Luke.
Brandon shows us the fantastic Godly Play room, where the best stories are told to children!

In the days after the pilgrimage, Brandon introduces us to the deeper story of this place, from the days of the early treaties until today. We visit the open land on the Cannonball river, site of the protests the previous winter and now a pipeline running under the river.

We visit the nearby Episcopal church and hear about its role in the recent protests and its ongoing role in helping the community deepen its resources for work and well-being.
A teepee motif forms the central dome of the church.
John describes the murals on the wall, which tell the cosmic story of the tribe and all humanity.

The new council buildings express the conservation, depth, and purpose of the tribe. They incorporate gifts from surrounding nations, a museum of rich paleontological finds, artifacts of the tribe, a history wall of the chiefs from Sitting Bull onward, classrooms — all ordered around the circular chamber of the council.

Each elder’s place in the circle is marked.
Outside the council building is the Standing Rock itself — a legend holds that it is a mother and child turned to stone as they resolutely refused to leave their land. It has been kept as a sacred object at the center of camp for generations.
Near the end of our journey Deacon Brandon and his family present to us a Star Quilt (the modern version of a buffalo skin), a symbol of friendship and honor. Winnie receives the quilt on behalf of the group.

The trip was rich beyond imagining. Friendship is taking root, and now we step forward together to see what kind of relationship God is calling us into.

For a deeper dive into this pilgrimage, click below for a 5-minute Trinity documentary video of the group’s journey.

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