It was approaching dusk as the conspicuous line of dark vans entered the reservation.These vehicles served the purpose of furnishing transportation for about 30 members of a Cleveland area youth group, whose mission was "to bring good news to the badlands".In short, the group was ministering to the Indian children of the Pine Ridge Reservation, which was in close vicinity to the natural wonder found in the foothills of "the badlands".The trip became a tradition for my church and I traveled there on three separate occasions.Each year, the team received a welcoming that could be described as anything but inviting.In fact, thefirst year the trip fell on the Fourth of July and as we drove in, our vehicles were bombarded with fireworks.I could never really grasp why we were so despised.After all, our intentions were commendable.The matter became clearer after I read Zitkala-sa's "American Indian Stories".Within this text, a Native American expresses her beliefs that actions similar to ours serve merely in altering culture.
The main character's civilization had religious beliefs long before the white man presented his ideas.Essentially, the Sioux religion was based on nature.It is difficult to pinpoint the exact beliefs of the group because of the deficiency of information. However from the text, some aspects can be gathered.First, it appears as though everything in nature is believed to retain a spirit. Zitkala-Sa is observing the flowers and personifies them, assuming they are possessive of a spirit by saying, "Their quaint round faces of varied hue convince the heart which leaps with glad surprise that they too, are living symbols of omnipotent thought." (102) Everything natural was incorporated into their religious beliefs. Thus, the people receive refreshment of the soul through companionship with the outdoors. The narrator describes a spiritual expe…

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