In 2019, the Riverton Peace Mission (RPM) came into being. Our first issue was in response to the police killing of Andy Antelope outside the Riverton Walmart. I envisioned an organization where Indigenous people and settlers of European descent could come together to address racism. I sought an end to the bordertown violence and to the impoverishment of tribal people. This past Thursday, I was one of twelve who gathered at Walmart in unity with the family of Andy Antelope still grieving the loss that impacts our entire community. I reflect on the last four years. I ponder the future for RPM with our reluctance to confront racism – Natives having learned to accommodate it in order to survive and white people not seeing racism in part because it benefits them. Fear of the other keeps us separated. I have hope that came from the tremendous turnout at RPM’s Summit for Our Unhoused Neighbors in March and the follow-up work through the Unhoused Task Force, with unexpected alliances forming with a vision of no more deaths from hypothermia in Riverton because of a lack of shelter. Be sure to join RPM’s Monthly Thursday Series Zoom event on October 5th at 7 pm where we will discuss updates from the task force. I have hope because some churches are becoming engaged in acknowledging the injustice that they perpetrated and are seeking ways to make restitution. The congregation of Highlands United Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne and its relationship with RPM is one example. I have hope because in October, an amazing Indigenous person will become RPM’s executive director/lead organizer for RPM to become an Indigenous led organization. She will be introduced in next week’s column and, thereafter, will write the weekly message. I will step back and give my full support to the new leadership. But while stepping back, I will not be stepping out. I plan to engage more on behalf of RPM with other white settlers willing to work with me to confront racism for community healing.
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice. Chesie Lee