He was what his obituary called “a Lakota follower of the Jesus Way.” Richard Leo Twiss got his spiritual call while standing on a beach on the island of Maui in Hawaii in 1974. It was on that beach that the Creator responded to his prayer and Twiss was on a mission to live a meaningful life after that.
A friend of Twiss’, Travis Reed, said in a Huffington Post blog, “I pray death is the beginning to life.”
Twiss had a heart attack and walked on February 9 in Washington, D.C. surrounded by family.
“This is an incredible loss to his family but it is also an incredible loss to all indigenous people who are struggling for identity within the context of their own cultures while holding firm to the Christian faith,” said Tony Campolo, a sociology professor at Eastern University and a founder of Red Letter Christians. The organization has a website dedicated to Twiss’s passing.
Twiss was born in 1954 on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota among his mother’s people, the Sicangu Band of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux. His father was Oglala from the Pine Ridge Lakota/Sioux Reservation also in South Dakota.
After marrying Katherine Kroshus in 1976 they started Wiconi International, a non-profit ministry, together in 1997. According to the organization’s website, it’s primary mission is to “empower and serve Native people to experience a desired quality of life and a hope-filled future through authentic relationships and culturally supportive programs. We seek to live and walk among all people in a good way, as we follow the ways of Jesus—affirming, respecting and embracing the God-given cultural realities of Native American and Indigenous people, not rejecting or demonizing these sacred cultural ways.”
Twiss was also an author. His first book, One Church, Many Tribes: Following Jesus the Way God Made You was published in 2000.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Wiconi International so his work can continue.
A public memorial will be held on March 10. The location is yet to be determined, but it will be held in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area according to an event page on facebook.
As his obituary says, “In the Lakota tradition, there is no word for goodbye. Instead, we say, ‘Toksa ake’ (We’ll see you again), son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend!”
To share your thoughts and memories about Twiss, visit the Richard Twiss Legacy page on facebook.