Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Since moving to Sioux City, I have heard this phrase often on the other end of the line in the ER, "Dr. Brownell, transfer call from Winnebago, 96"... I pick up and accept whatever patient needs to head our way from the small Indian Reservation just south of Sioux City. I hear they have a brand new hospital, yet they transfer everything to us, which is great for us, but I wonder why? I meet many of the Winnebago tribe in our ER and begin to learn bits and pieces of what they are like, at least the ones who come to the ER, and what is going on in this little land of its own.

I decided to find out a little more. Yesterday morning I found myself at a 630 am mass at the St. Augustine Indian Mission. There were 6 of us in attendance, 4 nuns, one Winnebago Indian who was very nice, and me. After mass, I met up with Father Dave, and had coffee at the rectory, where I met the Priest's dog Duncan, and was slightly surprised at his array of hunting gets, including turkey and deer with his bow. Not your everyday Priest.

In a short hour and a half, with a tour of the St Augustine Indian Mission, school and town I was astonished at some of the things I learned. How dependent the reservations had made the Native American people, a truly oppressive system. How after generations of dependence, you will be chastised for success. Some times when kids do well, give a right answer, they may hear the cat call of "What do you think you are, white?". In 2007, 20 miles away. Seriously?

I learned of the brand new hospital, with xray and lab, but nobody to run the machines for much of the time. I learned of the rampant health problems of the Winnebago and Omaha tribe, with the mainstays of alcoholism and diabetes afflicting many. It truly is a fascinating culture, with many sad stories of the tragic inevitability of their future, though this may be changing. I hope to learn some more about them in the next months.

I will be getting more involved with the Mission over the next few months, and will share any interesting stories I find. The first of those being the story of a small Winnebago Indian child, raised by his dad crippled with Polio. The short of it is a story of a kid raised by an incredible and loving father, who used to play catch with his son, and from a 3 dollar box of balls, bats and gloves from the Sacred Heart garage sale, a future star born. He barely made varsity in high school, got offered not one scholarship to college initially. Eventually landed on a smaller college team in Kearney, NE, and 2 years later was drafted to the Majors. In one year he jumped from Single A ball to the majors, and he strikes out 20 in his first 15 1/3 major league innings, all scoreless. He hits 100mph on the fastball. He finishes the regular season 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA, handing the ball Mariano Rivera with ninth-inning leads again and again and fueling New York's late surge to the wild card. His name? Joba Chamberlain.

The best story I have ever read in Sports Illustrated: Joba Chamberlain


Tony said...

Lakota means Sioux.

Travis said...

TONY COOPER! I knew you would reappear. My brother has been trying to get a hold of you. He has picture orders and cash.

Kyle said...

Cool stuff. True stuff. Can I do a sweat with you?

Jiveturkey9000 said...

That was the perfect post. It reads like a movie...there's a mystery that Travis is determined to uncover...he sits in on a mass...the priest is some rugged bow hunter that reveals several tender tales...all wrapped up with a kick-ass baseball success story. High marks from me.

Travis said...

thanks jive. by the way, have you seen superbad? the drawings made me think of you.

Jiveturkey9000 said...

That's so funny that you mention that...I started to wonder how many people I impacted with my special drawings. Jodi said something as soon as we saw that part of the movie.