Program connects

Robin Huiras

A new class at the University combines two subjects which historically are thought not to blend.
The Broken Hatchet and Pipe series, hosted by the University Episcopal Center, teaches the history of the tie between Minnesota American Indians and the Episcopal Church.
Instructor Juanita Palmerhall, said the course shows the coming together of people hundreds of years ago and what has happened since then.
The classes encourage people to think in a new way, said class member Donald Whipple Fox.
The course, now in its third week, was the brainchild of Palmerhall, professor emeritus from the University of New Mexico. Having researched the subject of religion and American Indians for the past three years, she decided more people should be aware of the connection.
“I am an academician. When you do this research and are a teacher, you want to teach it,” Palmerhall said.
Within the University community, 13 students are registered for the six-week long series. However, more than 50 students are enrolled in classes in Bemidji, Minn., at the sister location for the course.
Palmerhall said class members are extremely positive and enthusiastic about the class. The members consist of University students, community members, American Indians and non-American Indians.
“The most interesting part of the class for me is looking at the development of history as it pertains to how Native American ministries are set up in the church today,” Fox said.
The Rev. Doyle Turner, director of the Indigenous Theological Training Institute in Bemidji said the class makeup is a healthy mixture of people. At the Bemidji site, there are three candidates for the priesthood, 11 priests, members from surrounding churches professors and people from reservations enrolled.
“A lot of priests aren’t aware of the history,” Turner said. “The class allows people to understand the connection between the two cultures and a knowledge of the history of development.”
Each class has a different focus, Palmerhall said, although all of them revolve around some aspect of history. Monday’s class discussed the Anglican Church coming into Minnesota and its affect on the Ojibwa and Dakota tribes.
Whipple, who is Dakota, said another important aspect of the class is how the time lines are presented. While history is linear, focusing on the past, present and future, American Indian history combines the three elements into one. The linear mode doesn’t fall into the Dakota way of life.
The class will be offered again at Bemidji this summer.