First Published by Ignatian Solidarity Network:
In 2011, at the age of 17, I was given a gift I can never return; the people of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation gave me a piece of me. I was able to discover not only who I was but who I could become.
Alvin Slow Bear, the Lakota Medicine Man, taught me a lesson that I shall always remember: We are always given gifts from the earth, and it is our duty to return something back to the earth. It is a beautiful description of the circle of life.
Upon returning, I founded The Woape Foundation, a 501c(3) non-profit, whose mission is “to come to the aid of Native American children who are pursuing a brighter future for themselves and for their nation.” Yet, I can do more. I was given a piece of me by the Lakota, and it is now time I give back, in the best way I can: advocating for justice.
The Native Americans have endured some of the worst human rights violations since the landing of Columbus in 1492. Every crime thinkable and more have occurred. The worst is the systematic injustice. Forced onto Reservations from lands they protected for thousands of years, only to see them destroyed before the mighty power of industrialization. Through it all, the US Government broke treaty after treaty.
But did you know that the Government has never apologized for the systematic injustice? Congress feebly passed a weak apology resolution, which was neither public nor heartfelt. At the end of it, a disclaimer absolved the US from any responsibility.
My gift back to these people is to bring awareness to this injustice, and to make the past and current treatment of these beautiful people part of the national dialogue. I hope all of you join me on this path towards justice, by signing my petition below:
After signing, I encourage you to share it with your friends and family and on social media, so we can give this gift.
Christopher is the founder and chairman of The Woape Foundation.