Survivors of Red Lake shooting bring message of hope to Newtown


A convoy of Red Lake High School shooting survivors is bringing a message of hope and the promise of healing to the heart-broken town still memorializing its dead 6- and 7-year-olds and the adults who died trying to protect them.

Among those driving from Bemidji to Newtown, Conn., are some who were wounded in the 2005 shooting spree at Red Lake High School on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Ten people died that March 21, including the troubled shooter, 16-year-old Jeffrey Weise.

These graduates of the Red Lake class of 2008 bring with them a plaque given their school by survivors of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, outside of Denver.

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They will present the plaque, to Newtown school officials in a private ceremony Thursday with a message: “We’ve been through this. We’re standing in solidarity with you. You will get through this,’’ explains spokeswoman Stephanie Hope Smith.

Those making the trip were unavailable for comment Wednesday morning as they rushed to prepare for travel in vehicles loaned by members of the Red Lake Tribe and loaded with gifts from Red Lake people for the loved ones of those who had died in the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.

According to a recent report in the Red Lake Nation News:

“When the School shooting happened in Red Lake, students who survived the Columbine school shooting came to Red Lake to show their support for the community, the survivors and for the families who lost their loved ones. This meant so much to the community, and now it is our turn. These students know the heartbreak and loss that this town is going through and would like nothing more than to be there to show that they are not ALONE.”

This afternoon a group of 10, including elementary school-age Red Lake Drummers, will board a plane to Newtown with their musical instruments to provide comfort to the grieving community.

Smith says the delegation also carries to Newtown “prayer ties,’’ which are red prayer flags sacred to some American Indians. The flags will be returned to Minnesota in time to be included in the Dakota 38 Memorial Horse Ride, a healing ride that commemorates the Dec. 26 hanging of 38 Dakota at Mankato.

Smith, a member of the Bloomington Daymakers Rotary, a chapter of Rotary International, a community service organization, helped the Red Lake delegation connect with Rotary members in Newtown who helped set up the school meeting.