• April 13th, 2024
  • Saturday, 07:51:05 PM

Resilience in the Wake of a Killing


(Photo: Uniting Resilience)

 

Muffie Mouseau

 

My wife, Felipa, and I write to you today with heavy hearts. On Sunday night, we joined many others in LGBTQA+ and two-spirit communities across Turtle Island in holding a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Nex Benedict. Nex, a 16-year-old non-binary person of Choctaw descent, died following a bullying incident at their school on the Cherokee Nation Reservation in Oklahoma last week.

 

Please watch our discussion with Lakota Law to get our thoughts on how we understand this tragedy. It’s beyond comprehension, and yet it seems to happen again and again: the hate we face, the passage of laws in conservative states like South Dakota and Oklahoma meant to keep us on the margins — which ultimately teach young people to continue fearing those they don’t understand, rather than seeking that understanding — and the violence that results.

 

At Uniting Resilience, we know that bullying and hate-based violence need to become things of the past in order to create an equitable future for every one of our wakanyeja, our precious children.

 

Nex’s killing immediately brings to mind the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, a chilling event which gave rise to the type of hate crime legislation Felipa and I have worked hard to pass on tribal nations throughout Lakota Country. We’ve told you before, but it bears repeating: over the course of our many years together, we’ve been called every name in the book and faced seemingly endless discrimination, both on and off the reservation.

 

It’s our life’s mission to change that — not just for ourselves, but for all people. At Uniting Resilience, we know that bullying and hate-based violence need to become things of the past in order to create an equitable future for every one of our wakanyeja, our precious children.

 

One way to move us toward that goal is to provide safe spaces where members of the two-spirit and larger LGBTQA+ community can gather, free from hate and discrimination. So, on this somber day, we’re proud to announce that we’re creating just such a place. If you’re in the Rapid City area, we invite you to join us for the grand opening of our Uniting Resilience Center at 705 Watertown St. on Thursday, Feb. 29 at 11 a.m.

 

Our ribbon cutting will be followed by smudging and prayers, speakers, and lunch. On any other week, this would be a purely joyous occasion. This week, as we remember Nex and continue to pay our respects, we open the center with a renewed passion to ensure that all people — regardless of how they identify with regard to race, gender, or sexuality — have one more place where we can always be our best selves.

 

Wopila tanka — thank you for your understanding and acceptance!

 

 

Muffie Mouseau, Co-Founder – Chief Executive Officer, Uniting Resilience.