Colville Tribal member Robin Mills, a Native American Chaplain who works in Washington State Corrections institutions, presents donations made by inmates at Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility to PSIS staff and CBC members.

OMAK - In an anecdotal way, Chaplain Tim Snyder, can tell you that inmates he has worked with at Washington State Correction’s Coyote Ridge Corrections Center who give back to their communities tend to have a lower recidivism rate than inmates who do not.

“You show me a person who is self-centered, if it is about me, it is about my habits, it’s about me kicking my habits, and they don’t focus on how it has affected their kids, their wife and their community, I’ll show you someone who is likely coming back,” said Snyder. “But the opposite is true too. People focus on others aren’t likely to come back. Others matter, that’s the truth. Others really matter. All faiths practice that.” 

In the heart of giving back, chaplains from the Coyote Ridge made the trip from Connell to the Paschal Sherman Indian School to drop off gifts made for the school by inmates in the prison’s Community Appreciation Program.

“It’s all about giving back,” said Robin Mills, a Native American Chaplain who works in several of Washington State Correction’s facilities. “I go in and do sweats with them. I do Wellbriety, which is a 12-step program. I try to teach about giving back and healing themselves. I teach them everything I do is for me, me, me, me. If I don’t heal me, I can’t have this conversation with you in a good way or with them. They have to work on that when we do the sweat lodges, prayers. Part of Indian teaching is that the richest man is the one who has the most to give away. We talk about being warriors all the time. A warrior isn’t a man who goes out there an fights all the battles or sits in the bars and picks fights because other people are doing wrong. The warrior suffers for the people, for the good of the people. That’s what this is, giving back, giving.”

Items donated to the school included an eagle staff, two powwow outfits, bags, moccasins, beaded medallions, medicine pouch necklaces, a handmade box, and several pieces of handmade jewelry amongst other items.

Many of the items featured intricate beadwork.

“The love, the time, the consideration and the humility that went into all this stuff they had to earn that and learn that to be able to do this in a good way,” said Mills. “Some guys just do it to pass the time, but some guys do it for the reasons that it needs to be done. They understand who they have to be to be able to do this in a good way.”

Colville Business Council members Norma Sanchez, Virgil “Smoker” Marchand and Dustin Best attended the event and thanked the chaplains.

“These guys are going to get out,” said Mills. “When they get out, they’re going to go into our communities. How do we want them to act? I want them to try to heal other people. I came to the realization I was going in to help these guys and I realized I wasn’t helping these guys, I am there for their children and their children’s children. That’s where the healing begins.”

In turn, PSIS Kindergarten-1st grade teacher Theresa Ramirez donated raw materials to the chaplains to bring back to the CAP program.

Many of the materials used in CAP inmates purchase themselves, others materials are donated, said Mills.

Ramirez provided a sewing machine, beads, leather, ribbon and other raw materials, all of which were previously approved to be donated to the prison through paperwork with the corrections.

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