The Prelude to Repentance presentation took place during the Sunday evening session of the
2014 Iowa Annual Conference.
Retired school Principal Dr. Eugene Fracek, of Ankeny, gave the Prelude to Repentance address.
Dr. Fracek is the former Director of Indian Education for the South Dakota Department of
Assistant to the Bishop for Administration Rev. Bill Poland introduced Dr. Fracek.
He told the Conference that the Prelude to Repentance had been presented as a teaching service
at the 2013 Annual Conference Session, with the goal of addressing heritage and understanding,
and that this year’s presentation had a focus on reconciliation.
Dr. Fracek began his address by singing the Indian song, “Walking Tonka,” which has the
meaning, “Have mercy on us, we are a pitiful people.”
Dr. Fracek’s talk was peppered with humor and personal anecdotes.
There are three ways to identify who is an Indian, he said, blood, cultural and legal.
The legal designation is based on tribes recognized by the Federal Government. Dr. Fracek said
this puts the tribe on the par with the states for sovereign rights, often resulting in conflict.
There are two to four million people identifying themselves as Indian in the U.S., with less doing
so in the legal sense.
Dr. Fracek detailed the history of the Meskwaki tribe coming to Iowa from South Dakota,
settling and establishing gambling facilities, and other examples of situations that can result in
conflict through Indian tribes exorcising their sovereignty.
The three-hundred tribes in the U.S. don’t get along with each other, he said.
“And even in our own tribe we don’t get along,” Dr. Fracek said.
Assisting the Indians in need is complicated, he said, and poverty is pervasive throughout the
“We’re poor, we have needs,” said Dr. Fracek. “We got screwed, we’re oppressed.”
The Indian people need help, he said.
“Things are so bad that if you don’t laugh you will cry all the time,” Dr. Fracek said.
Humor is needed, but the sense of unity is not there, he said.
Many churches come trying to help, he said, but solving issues is not that simple.
Dr. Fracek explained Grant’s Division in 1874, when the president divided up the tribes on a
U.S. map to decide who could serve who. During this time through the 1950’s the Indians often
gave up their children to the Mormons to raise them to give them a better life.
Well-intentioned efforts intended to help often can have damaging results, he said.
Dr. Fracek shared how his mother suffered for living her Indian heritage.
He acknowledged the desire to help on the part of people outside the Indian tribes in the U.S.
“So if you’re thinking what difference are you gonna make,” he said. “I don’t know.”
Dr. Fracek told the Conference to go ahead and come onto the reservation and try to help, but
invited people to be real in doing so.
“But at least recognize you might not be as welcome as you think,” said Fracek.
“Don’t hide behind your church, or your club or your purpose,” he said. “Show us who you are.”