By Reporter Julia Hingorani
Most teenagers’ summers consist of hanging out at the pool or meeting up with friends, not kneeling down in the dirt to pull weeds. However, five Marian students did exactly this and more on the Winnebago Reservation.
From July 23 to 29, these girls were immersed in the Winnebago culture. This was an enlightening opportunity for students to grow in their faith and see firsthand how their volunteer work can truly impact a community.
Junior Lauren Philips recalls what she gained from the Native Americans. “We learned about what has happened to their culture over time, a little bit about their traditional foods and a lot about their values of family and faith,” Philips said. This trip was not only an opportunity for students to serve their community, but also an eye-opener to what other cultures endure.
Learning about the Winnebago and Omaha tribal heritage even inspired students to be proud of their own. One of the ways the Winnebago tribe expressed their history was through their powwow.
While the Native Americans gathered for their powwow on July 27, students had a new and humbling experience. The powwow demonstrated an unwavering sense of community. People from the tribe wore vibrant colors and danced to native drums. The powwow was a chance to celebrate their heritage, be loud about their pride and express their spirituality.
Aside from discovering a new culture, students stayed in a classroom in the grade school for their week of service and got to know the Missionary Benedictine Sisters who minister at the St. Augustine Indian Mission. Students bonded with the sisters by working in the garden, playing cards and simply eating ice cream. The sisters welcomed all students with open arms and gratitude.
“One way their culture is different is that their original language is disappearing. It is hard to see your past vanish when young people aren’t keeping it alive,” junior Marin Waters said. While Waters helped the community, she took note of how different her day-to-day is compared to that of a Native American.
Students looked back on this trip and realized that the distinct culture of the Winnebago and Omaha tribes had a lasting impact on them. Though the general purpose of the trip was to serve a community and grow in their individual faith, students took away much more.