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This Sunday, we will be discussing the need for cultural/spiritual opportunities in this countries prisons, and a need for transitional support upon release of our relatives. Ever since the first sweat lodge appeared behind prison walls in Nebraska in the early 70's, this issue has been well litigated in state and federal courts. Even Amnesty International has examined these cases.
In 1982, the warden at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary compared Native culture/spirituality to the Aryan Brotherhood and the Ku Klux Klan in denying permission to form a cultural group as mandated by court orders. By the 90's, sweat lodge was allowed at many prisons, and the right to wear long hair had been fought and won, but the real battle remains. What is there for Native prisoners upon their release?
In the past ten years the Muscogee Nation has began their Reintegration program and others have began to develop their own. This week I met with the Choctaw Nation and was asked to begin to gather information and data to create a program for reintegration. For myself, this was a milestone in my life as I had asked the Choctaw Nation to do this 30 years ago.
We all have families, loved ones and friends in prison. We hope the best for them upon their release, but it is a long road back with a type of PTSD from existing in months - years within a violent and dangerous environment. Employment becomes difficult without marketable skills and coping without life skills makes it stressful that sometimes one just gives up and resorts to old habits that reduces a sense of self-worth.
We'll discuss these and many other issues in the two hours we have this weekend. Plan to listen in and share with your friends!
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It's good to talk.