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LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER OF SPIRIT RISING

SHARON SUN EAGLE

 

 

Nearly 20 years ago, my husband Sun Eagle and I decided to dedicate our lives to helping our Native People. Spirit Rising’s history originally started at a time when we were raising our children. We did not have a car, running water, or phone and we lived in a camper trailer while trying to build our home on faith. Sun Eagle was a medicine drum maker and I painted his drums. We would sell a drum, painting or rattle and use the profits to buy building materials for our home.  Friends would also help with donations of materials and time. When the footers were dug, Sun Eagle blessed the foundation on which our house would eventually be built in hopes that it would provide, not only a haven for our family, but a structure to implement a program to help our People.  I can remember when we first came to our lot on our Reservation and he put up the Cedar Prayer Pole which he said it was the only way to start a home and our work. Being a traditional Holy Man we always honored our Creator for everything. He would say in his prayers, “Thank you Creator for without you there is nothing.” This is the basis of Spirit Rising. Everything comes from the Creator and Spirit Rising would not be here without the Creator.

 

            My memories go back to when we did not have a computer or telephone, but we had faith that our work would make a difference. Many people came to visit Sun Eagle. He would tell them of our work. Word spread and a wonderful reporter from Fredericksburg wrote an article about our cause. People started to write to us and we received many letters from people expressing interest in what we were doing.  I also got letters from families that needed help. We soon came to realize the needs of our People stretched far beyond our Mattaponi Reservation.  We tried to sponsor as many children, elders, families as we could from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota as well as our local Virginia Natives. We would write handwritten letters explaining the sponsorship program, which took a lot of time. We did not have a printer. Anyone who came to help, we asked for stamps. Every morning we hurried to get the letters out before the mail. When a dire need came and we needed to make a phone call, I would ride my bike 3 ½ miles to the local country store where there is a pay phone. This is also how we negotiated our materials for our house. I would make a lot of collect calls (Thank goodness our friends accepted them) or used as much change as I had. When we needed food for ourselves or others we would pray and someone would stop by and my husband would ask them to help take me to the store and help with some food. We knew first hand what it is like to not have enough to eat and many people both here and on Pine Ridge were in need of food. With help from some good Brothers and Sisters we were able to build a food bank on our lot. From monetary donations to our Food Bank we were able to call in orders at a local grocery for those in need at the Pine Ridge Reservation.

 

We finally got running water after 3 years and then our septic. My husband was very proud that he build our home from the ground up, using both his own hands and help from so many generous people who had little to give but themselves.  We praised the Creator for all that we had and prayed to Him for help in what we wanted to accomplish. We got a phone and someone donated a computer on which my husband was excellent in running the programs. I, on the other hand, did not have any computer skills and was afraid to use one.  Because of his innate ability to work with computers, he was able to fix donated computers and laptops and give them to our Native Children to help in their education.  

 

            Then in 2003, after a long illness, my husband passed on and there I was left with the whole of Spirit Rising. Spirit Rising had to go on. I learned some computer skills. It was scary to go on with Spirit Rising but my spirit is in this work. It has been a very hard struggle at times and probably still will but the work will continue mainly because my spirit is uplifted witnessing so many miracles. We keep the program at the grass roots and the Creator provides the spirit and strength to continue to help.

 

I want to thank all the people who made Spirit Rising work especially John Paul and Christine Fuller and most of all, the Creator.   Spirit Rising has not had a web site for three years but with the work of these good hearts it is back on the web.

 

Anah Kowamaness (Farewell with Love, No goodbyes in the Mattaponi Language)

Sharon Sun Eagle

President/Co-Founder

Spirit Rising