At Red Lake and everywhere: Importance of the children


Everything about the Red Lake tragedy evokes thoughts of our connection to
our children: how tight and intense it must be, how much in fact we must do
for our children - every day, from infancy to full adulthood - in order to
actually own up to our proper duty to our young.

This is never easy. None of us is expert in being a parent, nobody ever
studied it before doing it, no one has the final truth on how to do it.
Even in strong families, bad things happen. Then, too, many families have
been damaged over generations. As a result, parenting as an art and
cultural skill has been in decline. And in these days of continuously
violent images in games and movies, when kids can converse and partake of
killing and mayhem in virtual space, wanton violence can seem like one more
game. Imagination and reality can collapse into a fantasy of horror.

Who is going to love the children? Love is about good feelings of sincere
attention. It is about allowing children's expressions to emerge and be
communicated without fear of guilt and punishment, but with discipline. Who
is going to guide the children with their own example, their own healthy
goodwill? Who is going to lead and teach young people away from senseless
violence as a thrill, as a solution to life's pains and confusions?

There is much in all Native traditions that can set the level of respect
and attention young people require upon entering this world. The wisdom,
care and sincere attention that can be found in Native cultural traditions
(with the proper guidance) are always a good starting place. In Indian
country, as in all of America, rebuilding and re-strengthening the family
is everything.

It's about the children, who are so easily abused, so easily thrown
off-kilter when healthy adults are not there to teach them carefully. All
families have suffered. In large and small ways, Red Lake is everywhere. No
one can say for sure what causes a young man to lose his way so hatefully
and cause such meaningless destruction of life; we can only offer our
condolences and heartfelt good wishes to those left behind.

While much of the country's attention was focused on one unfortunate
woman's situation in Florida, 10 people who died too young were quietly
buried in an Indian reservation in Minnesota. The Red Lake community must
now struggle to make sense of it all. They deserve our most sincere
sympathy and support at such a dreadful moment.

Contemplation must also set in for the elders at this time, a taking of
stock of the evil forces that always stalk the innocent. Dignity and
character at the core of community - also resilient human imperatives -
will be needed more than ever by Red Lake, and by all of us, to face these
uncertain times.