This year could prove to be a turning point in our relations with the indigenous people in Washington State. An opportunity is being presented to begin a Truth and Reconciliation movement in Washington State by a budding coalition of Indian leaders and concerned partners and allies. This is a new movement and has only just begun basing its premise on the Truth and Reconciliation movements in the State of Maine and in Canada.
What that moment could look like is contained in a draft of a “Proclamation of Support for Truth and Reconciliation in Washington State.” Below is the introduction and includes a link to the full text at the end. We will be asking UU congregations, other faith communities, social justice and environmental organizations, legislators, educators and interested individuals to make themselves available to work at and promote this movement. It is a long-term effort that will require dedication and commitment. It will be a spiritual journey as we grapple with our histories, search for ways and opportunities for healing and laying the foundation for a future that holds hope for a future of acknowledgement, equity and respectful relations between all our communities.
There is an emerging and compelling desire to acknowledge the events of the past so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future. The truth telling and reconciliation process is a sincere acknowledgement of the injustices and harms experienced by Indigenous peoples in Washington State and the need for continued healing. This is a profound commitment to establishing new relationships embedded in mutual recognition and respect that will forge a brighter future. The truth of our common experiences will help set our spirits free and pave the way to reconciliation.
We, the residents of Washington State, recognize that every child matters. If all of our residents are to flourish, a process of truth and reconciliation for Indigenous people in our State must be established.
By signing this proclamation, we have agreed that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be established to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation in Washington State.
Read the full text here: WA State Proclamation of Truth and Reconciliation
For those of you who are not aware, literally thousands of bodies of Indian children are being discovered and exhumed from boarding school sites all across the continent. Yes, Unitarian Universalists also had missionaries running board schools. Sec. Haaland has ordered review of all US Boarding Schools (https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-haaland-announces-federal-indian-boarding-school-initiative) and UUs have been identified (https://boardingschoolhealing.org/healing/for-churches/ ). The UUA is preparing to receive notice of burials at the site of at least the Bond Mission school. Several years ago I did some research on UU role in boarding schools and this is what I came up with. As of 1902, UU historian Rev. George Willis Cooke’s writings stated there were 3 attempts on the part of Unitarians to undertake “educational work amongst the Indians.”[i] One mission was among the Chippewa/Objiwa in Minnesota in 1855 that failed due to the lack of funding. In 1871, President Grant assigned to the Unitarians the responsibility of education the Utes on the reservation near White River, Colorado that was attempted in 1885. This attempt failed as well due to “not getting sufficient encouragement.”[ii] In 1886, the American Unitarian Association established a boarding school on the Crow reservation in Montana called the “Montana Industrial School for Indians” or “Bond’s Mission School” run by Unitarian Rev. and Mrs. Henry F. Bond. J.F.B. Marshall, then Secretary of the Bureau of Southern and Indian Educational Work of the American Unitarian Association, wrote about a Crow girl at the school: calling her “a forlorn, homesick little savage” and “watched with great interest her gradual and progress from barbarism to civilization.”[iii] (Pg 447). Of all the Crow students, Marshall said “Here are fifty children taken out of the lowest and most degraded forms of savage home-life . . . and they are taught to love neatness, cleanliness and practical Christian life.”[iv] He went on to say of the students, “instead of being thrust back into a sea of barbarism with no career open to them, and no one to look after them, [they] will enter at once upon a life of usefulness, and like the negro graduates in the South will do credit to their training, and become zealous and successful laborers for the civilization of their race.”[v] Rev. Bond himself is recorded as saying this about the Crow students: "They are all bright promising boys. How such good appearing fellows come of an ignorant, lazy squalid, orphaned race is a constant surprise to us. I shall dread the time, if that comes, when they slip back into their old abodes and possibly leave.”[vi] “The Crow parents wanted to be close to their children, but the Rev. Bond would not allow it in order to maintain discipline and to pursue indoctrination without the outside influences of the family.”[vii] The school was taken over by the federal government in 1895. The Mountain Dessert District of the UUA website states “The Mountain Ute Tribe was visited in 1871 by the Rev. Jabez Nelson Trask. The Harvard School graduate was sent by Massachusetts Unitarians to serve as government agent to the tribe at Los Pinos, near Gunnison, Colorado. during that period many Protestant denominations pressured the U.S. government into allotting official posts to missionaries. Extremely confident of his righteousness and comfortably narrow in his view, Trask did not get along with the Utes, though they found him a great source of amusement because of his customary garb: large green goggles and flared trousers. Neglecting to spend any of the monies granted for the benefit of the Ute, Trask was removed from his post after one year. Following Mr. Trask was one General Charles Adams, whom the New England Unitarians were horrified learn was a Roman Catholic. Through political shenanigans the good general, well-liked the Ute, was soon succeeded by the Unitarian, Rev. Henry Bond. Mr. Bond left quickly when a shortage in the cattle fund was uncovered; he resurfaced in Wyoming in the late 1870s.”[viii] [i] Unitarianism in America: a history of its origin and development, pg 340 By George Willis Cooke, American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1902 [ii] Ibid., p. 341 [iii] Lend A Hand by edited by Edward E. Hale, 1887, Vol. 2, “Montana Industrial School For Indians” by J.F.B. Marshall, 447 [iv] The Unitarian, Volume 5, pg. 390, edited by Jabez Thomas Sunderland, Brooke Herford, Frederick B. Mott [v] Ibid., pg. 448 [vi] http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mttttp/_Bond_Schools/_Bond_l/_bond_l.htm [vii] Unintended Consequences: How the Crow Indians Used Their Education in Ways the Federal Government Never Intended, 1885-1920, Peter P. Holmanhttp://www.montana.edu/wwwhi/Papers/PeterHolman.pdf p9 -10 [viii] http://mdduua.org/about-us/mdd-history/ As a member and UU representative in the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities, we were advised by a Native minister that any response however inadequate we felt it might be, would be better than silence. So, the Network drafted and encouraging its member faith communities to adopt this statement.
A statement from the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities regarding Indigenous Boarding Schools, July 2021While we know that any response to the horrible news of unmarked mass graves at Residential Schools in Canada is inadequate, we also know that our lament must lead to action. We recognize that, though these atrocities are making headlines and receiving the attention of the world now, tribal communities have been testifying for years to the truth of forced removal, assimilation, abuse, and death perpetrated through boarding schools. We also know that within the developmental history of the United States, several Christian-based denominations were complicit in the cultural genocide of indigenous people in the United States and that the full story and truth has not yet been told in our country. Tribal communities have been calling upon complicit Christian-based denominations and state and federal governments to respond to these atrocities for many years. We also know that the trauma of this history lives on in the lives of people and communities, and all of us are affected. Telling the truth is a critical step to healing. So, our first commitment as the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities (INIC) is to listen to our indigenous siblings, to hear the truth they have been telling, to do what they have been asking, and to do all we can to advocate for this truth to be heard. We call upon our member faith communities here in the Northwest and throughout the country to tell the truth about their own association with Indian Boarding Schools in the United States. We pledge to advocate and work within each of our judicatories to identify boarding schools sponsored by or in any way associated with our faith communities. Though in many cases records of these schools have been lost or intentionally destroyed, another sign of the devaluing of indigenous lives, we call upon our various faith bodies to do all they can to conduct research in order to reconstruct this data, make the history of indigenous boarding schools public, and take this important step towards acknowledging accountability. We pledge to work closely with the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition in their efforts to document these truths and advocate for a National Truth and Healing Commission. We support and pledge to work with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as she establishes a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. We call upon all our member faith communities to establish their own boarding school truth and healing initiatives to proactively work with, provide information to, and complement the work of Secretary Haaland’s initiative. INIC also pledges to make available on its website (fanwa.org/INIC) a list of boarding schools by faith community, as an aid in our efforts to advocate and raise awareness and work toward healing. We also will gather resources for liturgies of lament and make these available as communities continue to do the hard work of telling the truth, moving through pain, trauma, and sorrow toward healing. Finally, we know that a radical shift must occur in our own theologies as we seek to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and the way Christianity has been used to justify colonialism, domination, slavery, and genocide of indigenous people. We will make available the growing list of faith communities who wholly reject the premise of the Doctrine of Discovery as we collectively take steps to listen and speak the truth to heal the legacy of boarding schools that are a direct result of this racist theology of domination. We pledge ourselves to discovering anew the Spirit that unites us all, in whom we live and move and have our being, and pray for the continual transformation and healing of all.
- Sign this petition to return the sacred Black Hills to the original stewards and close Mt. Rushmore.
- Sign the Climate Mandate and call for the Biden Administration to appoint Representative Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior.
- We call on our allies to support, donate, and amplify our #LANDBACK campaign and join this movement for collective liberation.
What's Next: Moving Into the Great Turning WWFOR Fall Retreat, November 21, 2020If you have already registered, but have NOT received the login information by email, then click the link above and register again! Computer gremlins have prevented us from tracking registrations between 10/27/20 and 11/11/20. Participate and listen to leaders working for racial justice, climate action, the end of nuclear weapons, and an equitable, sustainable society. A four hour Zoom schedule is planned, beginning at 9am, running until 1pm with “breakout sessions” and musical interludes included. Speakers will include: FOR-USA Director, Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, equity and social justice consultant Dr. Karen Johnson, Backbone Campaign co-founder Bill Moyer, and a panel of young activists from the Mike Yarrow Peace Fellowship. More
Western WA Fellowship of Reconciliation Spring Assembly: Peace and Justice in a Time of Coronavirus, May 2, 2020, online
MAY 2 SPRING ASSEMBLY. We are excited to announce that the WWFOR Spring Assembly planners have come up with plans for a no-contact Spring Assembly on May 2. Thank you, planners! Mark Your Calendar! Tell Your Friends! Peace and Justice in a Time of Coronavirus Saturday, May 2, 2020, 9 am - 12:30 pm Zoom Videoconference (participate by internet or phone) Please join us for the 22nd. Annual Western Washington FOR conference; this year by videoconferencing or phone. Find out how several groups and organizations are compassionately and courageously continuing to provide services in this unusually trying time, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted them and the people they serve. Everyone is welcome! All are invited to this video-or-phone-conference and there is no fee involved. After a welcome and introductions, we will have a series of workshops with Q&A included, and a closing session. Workshop Presenters
- 9:15 am Workshop # 1, Paul Chiyoken Wagner. Climate Emergency and stand against LNG facility in Tacoma.
- 9:50 am Workshop # 2, Deborah Cruz and Betty Deveraux, Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest.
- 10:25 am Workshop # 3, Maru Mora Villapando, La Resistencia against NWDC, Community Organizer and Immigrant Advocate.
- 11:00 am Workshop # 4, Kwabe Amoah-Forson-The Peace Bus.
- 11:35 am Workshop # 5, Carly Brook, Kit Burns, Washington Against Nuclear Weapons.
Deep Dive for Indigenous Solidarity May 9, 7:30 PM EST (6:30 Central, 5:30 Mountain, 4:30 Pacific) Preparing ourselves to collaborate with Indigenous partners in a good way. Conversation and small group work to deepen our grounding. Shared learnings. Shared facilitation by UUs connected to the work. Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/906222305 We continue to prepare in many ways: through the Environmental Justice Practitioners Network presentations by Indigenous leaders; reading An Indigenous History of the US; moving through the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation process; long term relationship through Inter National Initiative for Transformative Collaboration; Water Protectors Support Network; congregational alternatives to the settler -derived Thanksgiving Day celebrations; workshops at GA 2019, and preparation for GA 2020 which falls on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing; a call by our DRUUMM Indian Network to focus on repudiation of Doctrine of Discovery. We have learned much, must continue to learn, and are called by our faith to show up in a good way. Come learn and share. Rev. Karen Brammer Green Sanctuary Manager and Senior Associate for Climate Justice Organizing Strategy Team
Proclamation of Support for Truth and Reconciliation in Washington StateThere is an emerging and compelling desire to acknowledge the events of the past so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future. The truth telling and reconciliation process is a sincere acknowledgement of the injustices and harms experienced by Indigenous peoples in Washington State and the need for continued healing. This is a profound commitment to establishing new relationships embedded in mutual recognition and respect that will forge a brighter future. The truth of our common experiences will help set our spirits free and pave the way to reconciliation. 1 Read more here and sign the petition.
CUC (Canadian Unitarian Council) eNews: January 15, 2019 – Issue 73 The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) recognizes the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples and their authority to make decisions about what happens on their land. In the case of the Wet’suwet’en, who are opposing the development of a Coastal GasLink pipeline on their traditional territories in northwestern British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that they have never ceded their traditional lands (Delgamuukw, 1997). This historic case specified what is required to claim Aboriginal title to land, affirmed the legal validity of oral history and clarified the government’s duty to consult with Indigenous peoples before proceeding with any development. Read more here and TAKE ACTION!
Take Action!To learn more about the Delgamuukw case: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/delgamuukw-case Contact: Federal The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau Telephone: 613-992-4211, Fax: 613-941-6900 firstname.lastname@example.org. The Honourable Daniel Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David.Lametti@parl.gc.ca, Fax: 613-954-0811 Find your Member of Parliament https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members Contact the RCMP directly and let them know your view of their impending operation. National RCMP Headquarters Telephone: 613-843-5999 Email: RCMP.HQMediaRelations-DGRelationsmedias.GRC@rcmp-grc.gc.ca (media contact) Please take action in your own community along with other Indigenous Rights and Climate Justice activists in your area. Here are some of the other important ways you can support the Unist’ot’en, Gitdumt’en and the entire Wet’suwet’en Nation. Donate to the Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gitdumt’en Territory: https://www.gofundme.com/gitdumt039en-access-point Donate to Unist’ot’en Camp: http://unistoten.camp/support-us/donate/ Donate to Unist’ot’en Camp Legal Fund: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/unistoten-camp-legal-fund Get updates from Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gitdumt’en Territory: Support and Sign the pledge from the Unist’ot’en
We substitute United States for Canada and the same truth applies . . .
Apologies don’t do a lot of good if you aren’t willing to do the hard, inconvenient work to rectify issues and be forgiven, just like land acknowledgments don’t do a lot of good if you’re violating Indigenous rights to land.Read more here.
Gary Piazzon writes:
There is a plaque at the entrance of the UUCWI sanctuary acknowledging that the land it occupies was traditionally occupied by the Snohomish tribe.This was done as part of a truth and reconciliation process.A process of acknowledging and taking responsibility of wrongs done and which is integral to personal and cultural healing.UUCWI is an ally of the Lummi tribe which is leading an effort advocating for publically recognizing that many of us inhabit land that belonged to another culture which was often forcefully and illegally taken.