Thursday, November 10, 2016
6:30 – 8:00 pm
Co-hosted by Gichitwaa Kateri Parish, Native American Awareness Working Group of the CSJ Justice Commission, and Wisdom Ways
Join an evening of conversation with author Donald Richard Wright, who observed and studied the ancient ceremonies of the Aboriginal Ojibwe in Little Black River Reserve, Ontario, Canada. Its ceremony maker was a 94-year-old Ojibwe-Cree who lived in the mountains near Edmonton.
Wright wanted to experience and research the ceremonies in order to understand “the fundamental cultural strengths of the Indian who became copious drinkers of alcohol,” he says. “As an aspirant to the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minneapolis Deaconate Program, if I was to counsel the drinker, then my ministry became to know a little about these beliefs.”
Wright too struggled with alcohol. “After several years, God showed me salvation . . . and one day in a bar, I told myself I had had enough. Alcohol addiction became my strength, and, rather than succumb to its negative connotations, I studied chemical dependency and became licensed in the field. To become sober, I sat and listened to those thousands of Indian people talk . . . . Here was despair, shame, remorse, deep emotions around living a hurting life. Yet they were proud and, I sensed, afraid to be awarded for whatever sobriety they would achieve. I think they were so used to having what little they had be taken from them. This was a result of the colonization and oppression of a once very astute, proud people of aboriginal nations across North America.
“In the Seminary, I learned God wanted us to live a certain way. In the Indian culture, Creator wants us to live a certain way. Therefore, the book, The Way of Our People.”
Donald Richard Wright is an Elder of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. He has been an alcohol and drug counselor for over 18 years, working with inner city Indian youth in Minneapolis.