Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
689 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-3302
p 617-868-6600 | f 617-868-7102
John Dewell is a participant in the Return to the Earth JustWorks camp .
Sitting here at the Cheyenne Cultural Center  in Clinton, Okla., during a break at the UUSC JustWorks camp held during the third week of March 2007, I am reflecting on the words of Lawrence Hart, the center's executive director, during our daily educational classes.
As I have painted oil pipe fencing and the exterior of the third building constructed, and pruned and cleaned the Native plants garden, I have reflected on the situations and circumstances that left over 100,000 Native American remains and artifacts to sit on the shelves of university and museum storage rooms, often in the bowels of that institution.
People who lived the Red Way and honored Mother Earth were cast off after being destroyed by the Europeans who came and claimed their land. A proud people, who Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Paine, and other founding fathers looked to in establishing the government to run this new country of the United States of America.
It was a civilization of 538 tribes with a loving and caring familial system which treasured their children, protected the family structure, and treated their elders with respect. Death did not end this system of caring, respect, and protection. The dead were venerated and sent to the next life with a sacredness that said you, as the bison, have given us much and we place you in a safe and holy place.
The government during the hostilities with various tribes, the resettlement begun by Jackson and many presidents who followed, and the collectors who unearthed and sold or studied these remains and artifacts as if they were buried treasure, leave me anguished.