Learning from the Assiniboine

By Dallas

I thought I was pretty mature at the age of 19. I was terribly wrong. As a fresh adult I was sent on a Mormon mission to the Dakota and Montana area. I felt ready to leave home and I felt even more ready to tackle this assignment. I quickly learned that I had plenty to learn. One of my first areas was Wolf Point, MT in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. I was sent there during the winter months. I thought that I would thrive and bring salvation to the Assiniboine Native People. But this was a foolish thought. A thought that had been shared by many misguided white men of the past. I did not come to bring salvation, I came to be saved. And my salvation came in the form of learning about the importance of community.

I will not sugar coat some of the horrible situations that I saw on the reservation, but no matter how hard life was for the Assiniboine, they never gave up on their families and community. I never met a group of people that cared so much for each other. I never felt that way in my own community. Maybe I was cursed with affluence that my community never had a real reason to be close. But being around the Assiniboine, and feeling accepted by them, gave me the craving for such a community.

Coming back to Utah was, and still is, hard. I do not miss the cold winds of a Montana winter, nor do I long for the deep and heavy snow fall. However, the craving to be apart of a community still lingers within me.

Funded by O.C. Tanner and the Tanner Trust for Utah Universities through the generosity of the late Professor Obert C. and Mrs. Grace A. Tanner, the Center provides a focal point and physical setting for the annual Grace Adams Tanner Lecture in Human Values. 

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