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home : opinions : opinions
January 16, 2018

The Publisher's Pen
Jason Sturek

Calm approach to the future began with Spiritual Ride

It’s very easy to be cynical in this modern world, where politics drive emotions, profits predict contentment and friendships are too often deeply based on those things that only partially — and superficially — define us.

So, yes, it’s entirely possible that the Omaha Tribe was shooting for little more than publicity on Saturday with its Spiritual Ride that ended in Pender just ahead of Wednesday’s oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court. The cynics would say they know so.

But, you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. If tribal members called it a prayerful ceremony in the spirit of their long held traditions, then that’s what it was and I would never suggest otherwise.

It’s very easy to get lost in what this court case means to us as individuals and as communities with disparate interests. And in doing so, we can forget that traditions and customs do matter and are glue that binds people. The village of Pender and its leadership are to be commended for understanding that and finding words of encouragement for the tribal members and their supporters who made the trek from Macy — some on horseback — 21 miles to their final spot of prayer.

What could have been a source of contention was quite the opposite. There were some curious members of the local public who made passes in vehicles near the ceremony or watched from a reasonable distance, but there should have been no distractions from what the Omaha people were trying to accomplish.

I don’t know what the outcome will be in Washington, D.C. I’m looking forward to witnessing the oral arguments in person and the history that will unfold there. It will be weeks before we have a final answer, and it is certain not everyone will agree.

I do hope that the Omaha Tribe and its representatives who were in Pender felt a bit of what this community is about on Saturday as they walked our Main Street toward their cedar ceremony site — it’s a safe and welcoming place.

The village and its business community have their reasons for wanting tribal regulations and jurisdictional reach to stop near the bridge that the tribal members walked across on Saturday to breach the city limits. But the reasons are not of hatred or anger. Far from it. I would even go so far as to say that, if the court sides with Pender, there is still enough history in this county and village involving the tribe that the spiritual ride on such a cold day in the winter of 2016 does not have to be the last. For this generation and those beyond, let it be the first.

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