Leslie Spoonhunter and Allison Sage, from the Wind River Indian Reservation and co-chairs of the Riverton Peace Mission, reflect on this past week’s experience learning about organizing for power in rural communities. Leslie Spoonhunter shared, “I’ve attended many conferences over the years but being here in Missoula, Montana at the Small Town Summit hosted by United Today, Stronger Tomorrow was by far the most meaningful and engaging. We networked with organizers from California to New York, North Carolina to Oregon, and Texas to Montana. Representing the Riverton Peace Mission during this event reminded me of how important our work is. It was an honor to be with many other grassroots organizers. “The things I learned at the conference were base building, leadership development, possible funding opportunities, addressing housing issues in communities, sharing with other Native organizers, issues relating to food justice and food sovereignty and lastly voter education. I hope for plans to further engage with the amazing people we met and see how far each organization has gone. I thank those who provided the opportunity for me to participate.” Allison Sage said, “I had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the United States. I learned about how to organize people to support our efforts. I learned about white privilege and how white people have and control the power. I learned how to organize for voting registration and about the importance of door knocking canvassing. “It helped me to think about other ventures and methods to try. I made contacts with those who have tried other ways to apply for funding and actions. I learned about the importance of uniting and standing together to be a stronger voice.” During the opening of the Small Town Summit, Allison Sage prayed and sang, for which he received numerous thanks from the 230 participants attending. Those attending were again honored by his prayer and a song during the closing. Thanks to Allison for sharing his gifts. We come back now to implement what we learned to better our community. Over the coming weeks, we invite you to get involved.
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice. Chesie Lee