In 2001 the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota didn’t know where to turn. Charles Murphy, the chairman of the tribe said, "In the words of some of our respected spiritual leaders, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was attacked by the ‘spirit of suicide.’ As a result, we lost many of our young people which also traumatized the families and friends they left behind." Spiritual leaders, counselors, teachers and others laid the blame at high divorce rates, alcohol and drug abuse, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, gangs, and family problems.
Standing Rock Reservation lies on Lake Oahe, 34 miles south of Mandan, North Dakota. Along with the Cheyenne River Reservation, it was at the center of the "Ghost Dance Uprising" among the Lakota in 1890. It was also home to Sitting Bull, whose murder by Indian police ignited a panic that led to the Wounded Knee Massacre. While there are 10,859 enrolled members, the reservation population is 6,171. Unemployment is officially at 70 percent, but in actuality stands at 87 percent. Per capita income is about one-quarter of average income in the United States. A lack of industry and businesses keep unemployment figures high.
While tribal social agencies deliberated, one family began to pray. The American Horse family asked God for guidance and felt they were to contact a minister of the Gospel, Dr. Jay Swallow from Geary, Oklahoma.
A Southern Cheyenne/Sioux, Jay Swallow was born in 1939 in a tent on the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation in N. E. Oklahoma. After five years in the Navy, where he says he was "on a path of self-destruction," he came home to find his parents had received the Lord. His father, who had been completely blind since Jay was four, had been completely healed at the age of 70. Through the influence of his wife Joan, a believer in the Jesus Way, Swallow gave his heart to the Lord in 1961 and was immediately called to the ministry. For 44 years Dr. Swallow has pastored, preached, taught and prayed for Native people from the Arctic Circle to Central America. He is the spiritual warfare strategist for the Oklahoma Concert of Prayer, a member of C. Peter Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles, and co-director of Two Rivers Training Center. As one of The Sentinel Group’s Transformations Associates, he traveled to Fiji in September 2004 as part of Fiji 2004.
Summit on Suicide
Dr. Swallow went to Standing Rock and held a summit on suicide on December 26-28, 2001. Representatives from law and order, social services, schools, churches, tribal programs, drug and alcohol treatment programs, and concerned families gathered to hear him speak. In March of 2002, Jay Swallow came back to pray and take authority over the evil forces seeking to destroy the Sioux young people. He called it "dismantling the spirit of suicide throughout every corner of the Standing Rock Reservation." The result? Charles Murphy, the tribal chairman said in a letter expressing his gratitude, dated April 23, 2003, "There has not been a suicide since."
For nearly three years this was the case. When contacted for an update, Jay Swallow said, "I am sorry to say that we have experienced the first suicide in two years and 10 months." He says he has identified the breech and is following up. Swallow is heading up a building project at Standing Rock that will serve as a base of ministry. He says, "When finished this center will be used for a multi-purpose center with the ability to host and house many teams from across the nation to develop a source of hope and salvation throughout the reservation. This is the first of its kind and I believe it will spearhead transformation on that reservation." Severe winter weather (as low as -39F) and lack of funds has halted the project for the time being. Swallow plans to return to Standing Rock soon to strategize for the spring and summer. He says, "Keep praying for this out-of-the-way reservation."
Have You Thought?
"The fields are white unto harvest" right here in North America. We don’t necessarily have to travel across the sea to find an opportunity for prayer, ministry and outreach (IJL).
According to the U. S. Center for World Mission, there are 586 Native nations in North America. At least 200 of these have not been reached with the Gospel. Over 95 percent of the 3.5 million Native Americans in the United States have not accepted the Gospel message.
By Inger J. Logelin
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