An Eye-Opener

More from our Guest Blogger, Rachel G., from the 2014 Encampment!

Note: Each morning, the Encampment begins with a Morning Inspiration, prepared by youth and/or staff.


During our morning meeting period, the Encampment group received inspiration in a form that was different from the usual. The Through An Indigenous Lens CORE Workshop shared a piece of what they had been learning over the last few weeks with the entire group. We started off greeting each other in Lakota Sioux, sharing a personal greeting with each other that helped ensure a happy beginning to the meeting. A warm aura filled the room after “Tawn Yawn Wachin-Yong Kay ye/yelo,” meaning “I’m glad to see you,” was said from Encamper to Encamper. Then it was time for the movie: Reel Injun.

Reel Injun followed an American Indian man as he traveled from his home to Hollywood, the place that had portrayed American Indians in several different ways over the years, leading to the creation of stereotypes of different tribes. As we watched the film, we looked for The Five -Isms of the American Indians. These included Tribalism, Nationalism, Indigenism, Indianism, and Individualism. We discussed where these “-isms” were seen in the movie, and the roots of each.

What made this session interesting was the intrigue that came from talking about something that we don’t normally talk about. Often in workshops and such, discussion about American Indians or anything involving the Indigenous peoples of the world gets overlooked. But this workshop, and those who are involved in it, have opened the eyes of many of the Encampers to issues around the portrayals and stereotypes that surround a culture very different from a majority of our own. Along with learning about the power of assumption, we also learned about how much power the media can hold over a nation’s thinking. We ended the meeting with a closing phrase of “Tok Shaw Ah-Kay Wachin Yong Keen Ktay Ye/Yelo,” meaning, “I’ll see you again.” There are no good-byes in the language, and the familial sense in the community was high because of this.


Today we welcome Guest Blogger Rachel G. — one of our 2014 Encampers. Enjoy this peek into ENCAMPMENT 2014!


When entering the Encampment family meeting place this morning, the Encampers were surprised at the sight in front of them. Names were written on pieces of cardboard and placed into the center of separate boxes. It appeared that everyone had been grouped by who they spent the most time with, or in a box of “isolation” if they were seen as people who didn’t spend much time with others. Annoyance seemed to be the common feeling amongst the Encampers, as one of the staff members went on to explain the activity. Encampers were told to answer three questions:

  1. Who is in your box and why?
  2. Who is not in your box and why?
  3. Is this okay?

The staff then left the Encampers to tackle the questions.

After the staff left the room, the youth began to yell about how the staff had no right to box them, and how it was offensive. But after the group began to simmer down, many members of the group began to speak up and were well received. We all believed that we had our core groups, but that we all reached outside of our groups and did not isolate anyone. And for those who were told they were isolating themselves, they spoke on how they even reached out to everyone, but felt comfortable in being alone. To prove our point, we lifted the tape creating the boxes and created an even larger box, putting all members of the community inside.

Once the staff came back in, we discussed the conclusions we had reached. The conversation slowly transformed into a discussion about love, and the idea of expressing “simple love” in all of our interactions with each other. Through tears, anger, and laughter, the Encampment group came to the conclusion that in order for our community to thrive, we needed to learn how to love not only each other, but ourselves.