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Justice for our Children: Healing for Our Native American Communities

by | Aug 31, 2022 | Native American Ministry, UMC News

The She Native American International Caucus invites churches to observe a special time of prayer and action between Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 to remember when Native American children were taken from their families and placed in boarding schools and the children whose bodies were buried far from their homes. The observance also marks the “spiritual deaths” of Native American children whose culture and spirituality were taken from them.

Information about this dark chapter of history can be found at https://boardingschoolhealing.org/.

Sept. 30 is the official National Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. Oct. 6 is designated as a Day of Remembrance because on that day, in 1879, General Richard Pratt took Native American children from First Nations and opened a boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The observance, sponsored by the Native American International Caucus, is illustrated by art made by Paige McNatt from the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe. Churches are welcome to use this art to raise awareness of the need for justice, and healing, even today.  Download the art.

The Caucus recommends these additional activities for churches to raise awareness.

  • Sign this Petition and invite others to sign on  — “A Call to Truth Telling and Repentance
  • Choose a location such as your church lawn, a government building, or a park, and hold a prayer witness.
  • Invite people who will stand in solidarity with you. Perhaps there is a Native American drum group or a singer and dancers you could invite. Consider someone who can speak briefly about the purpose of the meeting. Invite a spiritual leader, pastor, or singer to say/sing a prayer.
  • Wear orange. It’s a strong color to draw attention to the event and symbolizes the sun as it sets and rises.
  • Collect children’s shoes or moccasins. Then place a circle of shoes on the earth near your prayer station or your church steps. Empty shoes represent children who never came home.
  • Make little orange birds out of felt or paper to bring to the event. These can be hung on a tree or a wooden stand or worn as pins. The birds represent the spirits of children as they take flight. Gather all the birds together and photograph them. (Please send photos of your gathering and the birds to Ragghirain@gmail.com with permission to share them in future promotions of this cause.)
  • Host a study at your church on Native American culture using any of these recommended resources.
    • “Giving Our Hearts Away” by Rev. Dr. Thom Whitewolf Fassett
    • “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” by Ward Churchill
    • “Education for Extinction” by David Wallace Adam
  • Review the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 2022 Report on Indian Boarding Schools.
  • Read the news article from Reuters documenting Secretary Haaland’s first visit with survivors

Additional Resources:

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