By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
Young adults who want to forge ties with a rising generation of Native Americans are making plans for Memorial Day weekend in the Badlands of South Dakota, where many as 1,000 are expected to gather for three days of worship, arts, recreation, and camaraderie.
Taizé Pine Ridge will convene in Red Shirt on the Pine Ridge Reservation May 24 and adjourn May 27. During the long weekend, adults under age 35 will sleep in tents, dine on buffalo, and get to know their Oglala Lakota hosts, who will share traditions from dance to horseback riding.
“Reconciliation is not an idea. It’s a shared life,” said Rita Powell, coordinator for youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of South Dakota. “We’re just trying to do something together, and in that way, reconciliation is born.”
Taizé Pine Ridge draws its name from Taizé, France, where an ecumenical community welcomes pilgrims from around the world to a simple regimen of chant-based worship and seeking God with an eye toward transcending differences. The soothing rhythms of Taizé worship will be a centerpiece of the weekend.
In April, several brothers from Taizé arrived at Pine Ridge, where they are now preparing to help host the gathering in late May.
The event will be part of a continuing Taizé Pilgrimage of Trust, which gathers young people with hopes of embodying — perhaps even incarnating — reconciliation in such places as Rwanda, Rome, and Turkey.
Organizers of Taizé Pine Ridge include the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota and the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which have contributed about $100,000 toward the event, Powell said.
Taizé Pine Ridge promises to showcase ecumenical spirituality in action. In addition to Native spiritual traditions, the Oglala Lakota have Christian roots going back more than 100 years to the early days of Episcopal missions at the reservation. Pilgrims are also expected to come from a diverse group of churches across South Dakota, as well as from other states and countries.
Organizers encourage pilgrims to register by April 30.