Breaking the Spirit of Suicide
The Story of Standing Rock Reservation
Pivotal Paradigm number 5: “Nation transformation must be tangible, and the premier social indicator is the elimination of systemic poverty.” (For more on the 5 pivotal paradigms for nation transformation click here.)
There are many causes of poverty, but typically we focus on the individual causes of poverty while ignoring the systemic causes. Poverty is much more than just lack of money. It is a lack of hope, a lack of vision, a spiritual system that says that any advancement is beyond one’s reach, and that any hope for a better future is unattainable. In the case of Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota, systemic poverty had created an atmosphere so bleak that a suicide epidemic had gripped the reservation. Chief Jay Swallow, the spiritual overseer of our International Transformation Network, shares how through prayer, repentance and spiritual warfare, this suicide epidemic has been totally eliminated. “The son of man came to seek and to save THAT which was lost,” ALL that was lost, including a reservation neglected by the church, ignored by society and devastated by poverty and suicide. I know you’ll find this report inspiring.
This is the story of the recovery of a Native Reservation that was once the center of controversy not only among other tribes in North and South Dakota, but among all of the tribes who are still in the status of “Reservations”. The story itself, in the terms of human reasoning, is in most cases simply denied as being unreliable or at least questionable. This of course is why this document will probably be understood only by believers of the Word of God and what it says concerning warfare of the spiritual realm.
Prior to my personal involvement in the recovery of this reservation, I had been keeping track of the percentage of suicides among the younger generation of the tribe. I was a longtime visitor of the reservation since 1968. I had seen many revivals in all of the districts of the reservation and was fairly well known for my efforts to bring relief.
Back then as it is today, poverty was the reason for the collapse of hope, especially among the younger generation, this lead to alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, and many other issues. The result was that for many of the youth “suicide” seemed to be the only relief.
Of the more than 10,000 enrolled members of the tribe, at that time we could document only 80 believers that made up the company of Christians with affiliation to some Christian group.
The atmosphere of the reservation was saturated with panic, not only in homes that feared their own children would be the next to take their lives, but also in the Tribal Government itself. More and more Federal programs were called on to bring relief. The estimated cost for the Federal programs was over a million and a half dollars. Social programs, prevention Programs, health programs, judicial programs, welfare programs, youth programs of every kind were part of a major effort trying to bring back social order to the Reservation. Instead, the suicides escalated out of control. There was an average of ten suicide attempts a month and two actual suicides.
In October 2001, Pastor Evangelist Antoine American Horse, Jr. contacted me. He sounded desperate and weary as he explained that the situation was “completely out of control” concerning suicide.
He stated that he had talked with the Tribal Chairman and the elected officials, as well as the Supreme Court Justice, and they gave him full permission and authority to contact me to see if I could come and help resolve the problem on the reservation. After seeking the Lord for direction, I answered with a definite yes. All I required was the complete authority to do things my way as I sought God for direction. They returned the call and agreed to this condition.
For two weeks before my journey there, we used the Tribal radio station that services three surrounding reservations to speak to leaders of all faiths and orientations to join with me to end the reign of terror by the spirit of suicide. One hour a day for a week we sought the attention of those that would join with me in a conference to be held December 27-29, 2001. We called it THE SUMMIT MEETING ON SUICIDE.
Between October and December I entered an intense spiritual warfare to gain the position of authority that would make this mission a success. The warfare was at times overwhelming. Only those who have walked through it can really know the personal battle one goes through. I can only thank God for giving me the wisdom to understand the importance of intercessors for these occasions.
We left Oklahoma early morning of the 26th of December. At approximately 5 AM of the 27th we arrived at the Reservation line on the south end, which was actually in South Dakota. The Reservation itself is in both South and North Dakota.
We stopped at the boundary long enough to serve notice to the spiritual realm over the Reservation that we had arrived. Larry Brown, a man of great reputation and authority for blowing the Shofar, sounded the battle cry of that ancient instrument of history past. This very effectively set the stage for what was about to happen.
Summit Meeting on Suicide
When the meeting started the next morning I was overwhelmed to see that 110 community leaders had heard my plea and decided that what I was proposing was probably better than all the previous efforts. After addressing the leaders of the various Christian organizations, I boldly told them that because of their divisions and lack of united action, they were responsible for the spiritual darkness over their reservation. They all humbly agreed and repented and reconciled with one another in front of a large number of nonbelievers. This itself was historic and later proved to be effective.
The next two days were very intense and the resistance in the atmosphere was very challenging. It seemed like my intercessors and I were the only ones that actually knew what we were dealing with, and what we were after. I found out later that those in attendance clearly understood the anointing given to me for this occasion. On the afternoon of the 29th at 3:30 PM the Lord said, “Now is the time.” I asked for the shofar to be blown into the heavens and the strength and courage came to me as I began to dismantle the spiritual strongholds over the reservation.
We were totally immersed in an atmosphere that I had not experienced before. The whole room and the people there were affected by a spiritual visitation. Boldness and understanding came to me and I and everyone there knew that we had cleared the atmosphere over the reservation from the grasp of the strongman.
This began two years and ten months of total absence of both suicide attempts and actual suicides. The reservation and its people were free! Gradually normalcy came back to their homes.
Certain conditions were established to insure that we maintained the victory that we had won.
- All Pastors agreed to maintain weekly prayer corporately.
- Networking was to be established; setting aside established denominational and church structures.
- Continued close prayer involvement with the Tribal Courts and Tribal Government.
This was accomplished for two years and nine months-then I received a call from one of the pastors of the main district. He told me, “Jay, all of the pastors of the churches have been RECALLED by their denominations. They have moved out of their parishes and nailed the doors of their churches shut. I have no one here to continue to help me. We have our first reported suicide in McLaughlin, S.D. (a town on the south end of the reservation). Since October of 2004 until July of 2005, there have been three suicides.”
Grass Roots Army of Prayer Warriors
I went back in to try and find a solution on April 21-24 of 2006. This second time, instead of going to the church leaders who chose to break covenant by moving off the reservation, I gathered the survivors of the victims of suicide: mothers, fathers, grandparents and relatives. I sponsored a three-day gathering calling for all of those that were still in grief and sorrow. The response was overwhelming. About 250 families showed up. The results were outstanding. I was able to not only bring healing to those who were wounded by suicide, but to train them to be a viable force of experienced prayer warriors. In every district now there are watchmen, prayer warriors that sound the alarm to pray and intercede when they sense the spirit of suicide once again beginning to prey on the young people in their district. Even the young people themselves are guarding over one another and alerting the counselors when they hear of or discern any suicidal activity.
For over a year we have been able to experience a sense of spiritual security with zero suicides. One big plus is that in the last year we were able to finish the outreach center that was dedicated May 28th. It has since hosted several major events by Christian youth teams from across the nation. This has been a tremendous support to the youth of the reservation.
We still have a very long way to go in the recovery of the native peoples, the future is very unpredictable because of the influence of depression and hopelessness brought by the lack of economic development, but we are seeing many encouraging signs.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers.
Minister to Native America
—Written May, 2007