Saturday, September 23, 2006

Two Choices: 'Live or Disappear', Says Sioux Campaigner

American Indians streaming to cities 'battle for acceptance'

North American Indians will not disappear despite what has happened to them in the past, says the director of Lutheran agency that assists American Indians living in Chicago, Illinois, United States.

"We will not disappear; a thousand years of practice has taught us to survive," says Marilyn Sorenson, a native of South Dakota from the Sioux Indians. Although she is a Sioux, she has some Scandinavian ancestors as well she said.

Through her work as a director of the American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Chicago, she hopes to make the lives of Indians who stream to the cities from reservations less harrowing.

Sorenson says that the guarantee for the survival of Indians in 21st century America requires their acceptance by the society around them and their confidence to come to terms with living in it.

A critical factor for North American Indians living in reservations is a dire shortage of qualified teachers.

"Our common goals are: Creating economic stability for the winding down of poverty and being recognized as people who have gifts for society," says Sorenson. She adds, "We are often considered as pagans because of our traditional faith."

Sorenson finds shocking the fact that among American Indians there are serious problem of drug and alcohol abuse, and they have a higher incidence of suicide than do all the other inhabitants of the United States.

"The role of the Church is bringing the Gospel to people in order to provide a hope," says Sorenson. "Indian centers in bigger towns (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or Denver) act to make easier important changes such as moving from reservations to cities."

"Nous avons deux options : vivre ou disparaître"

Marilyn Sorenson a une double origine : sioux du Dakota du Sud, et - comme son nom le laisse entendre - scandinave. C'est riche de cette double culture qu'elle remplit ses fonctions de directrice du Ministère pour les indiens d'Amérique et d'Alaska, au sein de l'Église Évangélique Luthérienne d'Amérique, à Chicago.

L'enjeu pour la survie des peuples indiens au 21e siècle c'est d'être acceptés au sein de la société. "Le rôle de l'Église est d'apporter l'Évangile au peuple afin de redonner l'espoir" face aux situations difficiles générées par la vie dans les réserves (drogue, alcoolisme, suicide, etc.)

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