Reader Opinion: Opportunity to learn and grow

We have so much good to share with each other, so much good to accomplish.

Stack of newspapers on a laptop computer.

I was privileged recently to hear traditional Ojibwe stories told at the Chalberg Theatre, Central Lakes College. The storyteller, Professor DeVry Fairbanks from Red Lake Tribal College, was cosponsored by CLC and the Brainerd School District. Thanks to their working partnership, we’ve been able to participate in an ongoing series of programs lifting up the culture, values and contributions shared with us by sister cultures not descended from my own European heritage.

Professor Fairbanks, “Little Wolf,” a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe people, shared the ancient tradition of four young men going in search of food and hope when their village was starving and freezing to death in deep winter. Long story short, each of the young men sacrificed his life to save the people. From each of their graves, gifts sprang up. Birch trees — providing materials for home, canoe and implements. White pines — providing habitat for animals and thus a source of food. Flint — enabling the capture of fire for heat, cooking and work. And finally, tobacco — giving something for the people to use for prayer and worship of the giver of all good gifts. Shelter, food, fire, something for worship — sounds like gifts my Norse ancestors surely appreciated as well. That I appreciate.

Since George Floyd was murdered, I have read many books, experienced many workshops, classes, festivals, etc., led by Indigenous Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Europeans like me, on public television and radio, in the Brainerd Dispatch. What wonderful things I have witnessed. We have so much good to share with each other, so much good to accomplish. Thank you CLC and District 181, for classes you teach and workshops you host, for helping to bring understanding and healing from centuries of wounds, distrust, fear and hatred. Together, we can do better.

Darrell J. Pedersen


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