Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brother Simon and the goldfish.

At the beautiful Heritage Center at Red Cloud School, I walk around sometimes in awe. I look at it and think of how proud Brother Simon must be of what he accomplished in his lifetime here on Earth. Yes, it is my place of employment, so I am somewhat biased and proud. But have you ever been there? So many people have never even been in the store and live here. When they do come in, they look around and say "I never knew this was all here! Wow!"

We are here for the people. We are here to show you the beauty and pride the Lakota have in their artwork. We are like many of the other places on the reservation that aid in showing the beauty of the local artwork. Like Rosie at Singing Horse Trading Post and Bruce at Lakota Crafters Co-op.

The Heritage Center was not possible without Brother Simon. Brother Simon was assigned to the Holy Rosary in 1964. He then spent the next 42 years working among the Lakota people he loved so much. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have this job. He took an interest in the art of the people so much, he pretty much single handedly built The Heritage Center and the annual art show he started in 1969, that is one of the best in the country.

He dedicated his whole life to making the world see and know the beauty of the Lakota people through their art.

In working there, so many people tell me stories of Brother Simon. Tell me how funny he was and how good he treated people. I met him maybe two times before he passed away. But in being hired by Red Cloud School and in a lost file in my desk, I discovered my own story.

The school has goldfish that live in the classroom during the school year. In the summer they get moved to Brother Schleinger's Courtyard, which is right outside of The Heritage Center. It was an invite to the goldfish from Brother Simon. Asking them to spend their summer vacation away from their tiny glass condos and spend it in the courtyard pond. Amongst the beautiful lilacs and tulips and away from the crowded and busy classrooms. He ended the letter by saying "Remember, what happens in Brother Schleinger's Courtyard, Stays in Brother Schleingers Courtyard."

I asked my boss what the letter was about and he explained to me that every year the fish get invited personally by Brother Simon. The teachers read it to the students and the goldfish have their official welcome to summer vacation. I asked if I could invite them back since Brother Simon was gone. He said sure. So I sent an apology and invited them to their summer vacation. They answered back that they would be delighted to spend the summer in the courtyard and they were bringing some frog friends this year.

Brother Simon was indeed a great man, he did many great things for the people of the Pine Ridge reservation. He even took the time to care about the goldfish, too.

That story is worth a smile in honor if Brother Simon.

No comments: