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Tanka's mission with these visitors: Welcome good friends

By Mark K. Tilsen, story and photos

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Recently, we were visited by the Lakota Mission Team, an intrepid group of east coast volunteers based out of Vienna, VA, and the Church of the Good Shepherd. Now these folks are no strangers to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and have been spending a few weeks of the summer out here since 1994.

More directly related to us, they were also the first people outside of our community who tasted the Tanka Bar on their summer visit more than two years ago.

I took them on a tour of the Thunder Valley e-Tanka Cafe, our humble marketing desk, the busy call center of our awesome sales team and even the warehouse where we keep our Tanka Bars under lock and key. After getting a chance to purvey our fine goods, we went over to the Lakota Prairie Ranch and Resort, located about five miles from our building.

Just before we left, another entirely separate church group came into the cafe.

"What outfit you all with?" I asked.
"We're Quakers," they said proudly.
"Friends eh? I like Quakers, they don't start wars, burn people at the stake, and it's real hard to go to Quaker hell."

At the resort, over a fine meal of chicken fried steak, I visited with some of the elder members of the Lakota Mission Team. They me told they stayed outside of the community for the first three years, doing no service work, simply being present and observing.

Did they come to recruit Christians among the Lakota? After a resounding "No," they went on to explain that their work is to provide a little help to people who need it. They come here to build, repair and refurbish homes and community buildings.

Why they don't they gear their resources to aiding a more profound social change for our reservation? "It is not our place as outsiders to say what is best for the Lakota people to do, that's your job. And while you do it, we will help those we can, spend our time here in good company, spend some money on the reservation."

For more information about the Lakota Mission Team and the church: Church of the Good Shepherd UMC

For more information about the resort: Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort

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