Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Changing Columbus Day?

As our nation celebrates Columbus Day, this holiday may bring conflicted experiences and emotions for different Americans. For many in the Native American community, it serves as a painful reminder of the brutal European settlement and conquest of the Americas. Many in those communities and beyond want us to change Columbus Day into one that recognizes the Native (indigenous) Americans in our midst.

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori offers the following statement: "I urge you to learn more about the Doctrine of Discovery* and the search for healing in our native communities. But this is also a matter for healing in communities and persons of European immigrant descent. Colonists, settlers, and homesteaders benefited enormously from the availability of 'free' land, and their descendants continue to benefit to this day. That land was taken by force or subterfuge from peoples who had dwelt on it from time immemorial - it was their 'promised land.'"

Learn more here: Doctrine of Discovery repudiation found here.

"It can also be a time of learning and understanding," said Sarah Eagle Heart, the Episcopal Church's officer for Native American and Indigenous Ministries. "Columbus Day could instead be a time to turn away from those things done 'on behalf' of Native Americans so that we all might come to live in justice and peace with all people."

A Prayer for Healing and Hope
O Great Spirit, God of all people and every tribe,
through whom all people are related;
Call us to the kinship of all your people.
Grant us vision to see through the lens of our
Baptismal Covenant,
the brokenness of the past;
Help us to listen to one another,
in order to heal the wounds of the present;
And give us courage, patience, and wisdom to work together
for healing and hope with all of your people,
now and in the future.
Mend the hoop of our hearts and let us live in
justice and peace
through Jesus Christ,
the One who comes to all people
that we might live in dignity. Amen.
The above includes an adaptation of materials, Copyright 2011, the Episcopal Church Center

*An occasion of unprecedented significance in the history of the Episcopal Church (2011)

This “Lament over the Doctrine of Discovery” is the first time in the history of the church that we have attempted to come together as followers of Jesus Christ, Native and other people, to openly acknowledge, honor and lament before God and each other, the grievous circumstances of the settlement of this nation. As General Convention 2009 had the courage to repudiate the Doctrine of
Discovery and to call us to transformed understandings, practices and relationships, tonight we gather here in Indianapolis and throughout the Episcopal Church to share this event with those who participate in Local Laments over the Doctrine of Discovery.

What is the Doctrine of Discovery and what does it have to do with me?

The “Doctrine of Discovery” is a term referring to several documents and policies of church and state that legalized the violent and unjust settlement of North and South America, giving these actions, and their long-lingering tragic consequences, the full sanction and blessing of church and state. Without some awareness of the reasons why and ways in which these policies and actions grievously violate the values of our Christian faith – to continue in the prayers and fellowship, preserve in resisting evil, proclaim Good News, seek and serve Christ in all persons, strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being – we cannot live out that faith with honesty and integrity.

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