Saturday, November 05, 2005

Beth, Beth, and Derrick Go To The Reservation

Well, yesterday was our trip to the Wind River Indian Reservation. It was an interesting experience. Our stops were limited to the Arapahoe Episcopal Church, the Shoshone Episcopal Church, the RC mission (which I think is on the Arapahoe side), and a trading post/gift shop. Oh, and the cemetery where Chief Washakie is buried, and the one where Sacajawea may very well be buried, depending on which story you believe. (If you believe the Episcopalians, the Rev. John Roberts did Sacajawea's burial in that graveyard.) They were lovely stops, and we drove through a good part of the reservation to get around to them all, but it was much more a tour of "what the white man does on the reservation" than the reservation itself. That's not really surprising, given that our guide was a white Episcopal priest who has very little to do with the reservation (I think actually we wouldn't have seen even the Episcopal churches there if we hadn't asked to visit the reservation). But it was certainly a very specific view of it, and one well in tune with the way Lander folk generally talk about reservation folk. There's a great deal of racism here, and while people I've talked to all seem to know it's there, most don't seem to understand their own role and complicity in that racism. (In other words, good liberal stock seem to be the same no matter where you go.)

It was also interesting, though, to see the differences between the two Episcopal churches. The church at Ft Washakie, on the Shoshone side, is very much straight prayer book, Anglo worship style. Their church building looks like many other western churches inside and out and they seem to use only the standard Episcopal liturgical resources. Our Father's House at Ethete, on the Arapahoe side, is almost the opposite. It's certainly an Episcopal church as well, but the inculturation is very different. The altar they use is a large drum-style altar, with an eagle feather on it for the epiclesis. It sits on a round, raised about a foot, and covered in what looks like a hooked-rug, quartered into four colored sections - yellow at liturgical north, red at liturgical east, blue at liturgical west, and black at liturgical south. Their music is much more varied - Hymnal 1940, praise music, chant, etc. and I think their liturgies themselves are somewhat varied as well, though I don't know.

Beth needs to check email as well before dinner, so here's the short version of the rest: Took our three hosts to dinner last night. Drove to Thermopolis this morning, stopping to see the world's largest hot spring before meeting with the rector of the Thermopolis/Worland churches, who are moving in the general direction of mutual ministry. Drove to Meeteetse for lunch, where we bumped into the local priest there. Drove to Powell for a 2 pm meeting with some of their congregation, including their local transitional deacon and their ministry developer, Ron. Beth and I are staying with Ron tonight and will go to the 9 am service 50 miles out in Basin and then the 11 am service 50 miles from there in Meeteetse (I think all those e's are in the right places). Derrick and Bob will stay with the Powell senior warden and go to church there tomorrow morning. We'll all meet up again to meet with the Cody local priest at her house tomorrow afternoon. Then we'll drive back to Lander, hitting Shoshoni on the way for Yellowstone Drug, home of the best milkshake in Wyoming (or so we're told!). Tommy, our house host, is cooking dinner for the six of us tomorrow nights. We're hoping he remembers only to put on five steaks.

After that, we have a slow last couple of days - or at least, we've got nothing concretely planned yet except a Monday morning ecumenical text study. Don't know when I'll be back online, but I'll be back at O'Hare in exactly four days now.

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