By Rhonda Mitchell Mille Lacs Band Member
Band member Dan Wind organized a Domestic Violence Awareness Caravan on Wednesday, October 28, and a strong turnout of Band members showed a passion for ending violence in our communities.
"The caravan was a way to bring awareness to the community during COVID-19," Dan said. "The turnout was better than expected. I thought we’d only have seven or eight cars, but we had 25."
Dan decided he wanted to do something to help when he was going through Batterers’ Intervention Project classes. "This was kind of making amends for me also because I couldn’t talk directly to the women without triggering something."
Dan said his partner has helped him understand that everyone in the family is affected by domestic violence because "The pain of one is pain for all," and children who are exposed to violence are more likely to keep the cycle going.
He wants the community to reach the point where women don’t have the extra burden of being afraid and continuously watchful, and he wants men in the community to be more respectful of women and to avoid the kind of talk that shows disrespect.
As he went through domestic violence court and was required to take classes, Dan realized that he could no longer blame the violence he had perpetrated on drugs and alcohol. "The facilitator taught me a lot about myself," said Dan. "The drinking and drugs only loosened my inhibitions. The belief was already there, and the drinking and drugs unlocked it."
Although his parents didn’t fight, he had seen his aunts experience abuse. "I remember it was impactful on my life somehow and gave me the belief it was okay to abuse in some twisted way. Now I know it’s not."
Dan thanked the Red Lake Band for giving him the idea for the caravan, Adrienne Benjamin for providing art work, Bradley E. Harrington and Wenji-bimaadizing Media for the t-shirts, and a host of other volunteers: Joe Nayquonabe, George Morrow, Tribal Police, Mille Lacs Conservation Officers, District I Representative Virgil Wind, the Substance Use Disorders Program, and Four Winds Lodge.
Dan is hoping to follow up with a march (once the pandemic passes) and other events to raise money for Mille Lacs Band programs and the women’s shelter.
See next month’s Ojibwe Inaajimowin for thoughts and reactions from caravan participants.