Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
June 16th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Reflection: #UMC and the Native American Act of Repentance

English: This shows the population concentrati...

English: This shows the population concentration of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives in the United States during 2008, by state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the 2015 West Virginia Annual Conference, we experienced informational presentations on what will happen at the General Conference in regards to the Act of Repentance towards the Native American people.

Here are some links for you to view.

I will be honest with you. I have a difficult time participating in such things given my heritage and the fact that I was not around in 1830.1 But, that is trivializing what our heritage as Americans consists of, including the forced relocation and attempted genocide of the Native American people.

I sat through some visually and orally powerful presentations and kept hearing about the past.

At no point should you think that I mean I do not think that we as Americans owe a debt of apology. Indeed, we have broken treaty after treaty with the Native American people. We still take their land when it suits our purposes. We still abuse slurs against them for our entertainment. There are, simply and mildy, a lot of abuses still ongoing by our government and the First Peoples.

Please look here and here for ways you can help today.

I heard a lot about the history of abuse against the Native American people, but nothing about our current occupation of their culture. I hope that The United Methodist Church, when “finished” with this Act of Repentance, continues to inform its members that this soul wound continues and how it continues because of our present government.

  1. This seemed to be the main focus, which I would like to have seen expanded to include the whole of the treatment of the Native American people.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

5 Responses to “Reflection: #UMC and the Native American Act of Repentance”
  1. Still my favorite.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bTqV1pnQoos

    If you want an uncomfortable moment, try playing this in church.

  2. When you have any kind of internet access, you tend to take it for granted. Most First Nations lack any meaningful bandwidth. Information is the KILLER APP. Some resources: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gigabitnation http://www.ilsr.org/initiatives/broadband/

  3. Know More Than I Should says

    Being married to a woman with fierce pride in her tribal ancestry, I’m not sure Native Americans want more patronizing lip service from a bunch of white folks so much as respect for a people and a way of life that did very little damage to humans or to the earth on which they walk.

    However, if the United Methodist Church is hell bent on doing something, it might start by protesting the stereotypical Hollywood Indian casting in movies. Some of the stilted caricatures would make Joseph Goebbels portrayal of the Jews appear to be puff pieces!

    Equally disturbing is the mythology that poor innocent white people were set up by filthy rotten savages for no good reason. In realty, whites when from being trespassers to being thieves! Small wonder warriors went on the war path. .

    The Church might also consider using some of its social capital to rid sports of those annoying Native American mascots and idiotic fight songs.

    Along the same line, acknowledge that while veterans are relatively few an far between among whites, military service is still a test of manhood among the tribes.

    A good place to start might be to find out about Ira Hayes. Few whites know his name; but they’ve all seen his profile. Rednecks know him from a Johnny Cash tribute.

    For everyone else, in addition to being Pima, Ira is the Marine on the far left in Joe Rosenthal’s epic Iwo Jima flag raising photo. Ira’s likeness also sculpted into the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington.

    What most of America don’t know — and most probably don’t care to know for that matter — is that Ira basically died drunk in a mud puddle a decade after the war ended. Like many returning veterans, Ira had trouble returning to civilian life.

    There are still a lot of Ira Hayes out there. Among other things, the United Methodist Church could do would be to find them and provide the assistance they require so they don’t feel the despair that killed Ira..

    It all starts with being thy brother’s keeper.

  4. Know More Than I Should says

    Pushing to get Jackson’s mug off the $20 wouldn’t hurt either!!!

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