Community, Commitment, Connection and Tradition by Bob Wickizer

Community, Commitment, Connection and Tradition
Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 96:1-7 ; Luke 10:1-9

We need to spend some time today reflecting on the first Native American clergy person in Indian Territory along with the challenges of Christian mission. It's a tall order.

The Reverend David Pendleton Oakerhater had many names, titles and careers during his long life. We recognize him today for what he did with the latter half of his life. But if we were to pick a modern term to describe his early days, that term would be ''terrorist.'' While there is some truth to the saying that one man's terrorist is another person's folk hero; Oakerhater, also known as Making Medicine, waged war for many years on the white man and the U.S. Army.

Before we rush to judge, we should try to understand all sides in this story. In the aftermath of the Civil War, many disreputable characters and common criminals made their way into the lawless west to take advantage of the chaotic situation on the frontier. Oakerhater was a Cheyenne and for years the white man stole horses and hunted buffalo which were both protected by treaty between the Indians and the U.S. Government. The failure of the government to enforce the treaty meant that common horse thieves and buffalo hide hunters would not face any consequences for their action.

The Cheyenne sent a delegation to Washington to appeal the matter and despite assurances from the government, the stealing and other infractions continued. The Cheyenne and other tribes eventually decided to take matters into their own hands. This is just a quick summary of the back story behind how we have someone on the Episcopal calendar (He is in fact our only ''saint.'') with their own feast day who spent the first half of his adult life fighting against the U. S. Army.

The apostle Paul had a similar conversion from persecutor of the Christians to becoming the chief missionary. In God's wisdom, even people who may seem to oppose us can ...

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