What better time than the Sunday before Columbus Day to bring attention to the Doctrine of Discovery – the concept that colonial powers own the land they find despite who’s been there already for thousands of years.
2009’s General Convention saw a repudiation of the Doctrine:
…led to the colonizing dispossession of indigenous peoples from their lands in North America and to the dehumanization and subjugation of non-Christian peoples (which the monarchy termed “heathens” and “infidels”)
These ideas are so built into our way of looking at life that we don’t notice them. They don’t just go away. But they contribute to the invisibility of Indians, to the genocidal efforts to destroy Native culture. It’s an emotional issue for Native Americans and has become a nonissue in our educational system. During the Lewis and Clark centennial, Native people had an anti-Lewis and Clark gathering. It was done with a sense of humor, but there is more to that particular story.
At our 10:30 liturgy, we’ll read excerpts from the papal document [the 15th-Century papal bull Romanus Pontifex -ed.] and the English doctrine. I’ll read the (repudiation) resolution. I hope to have a guest preacher from the Grand Ronde Confederation. We’ll also use parts of the New Zealand prayer book, which has been authorized for use in this diocese. It reflects the Maori perspective, so people won’t think this is just Albert with a bee in his bonnet. We’ll include some Native ceremonies — some drumming, some singing, some smudging. And we’ll offer prayers of intention for reconciliation and justice, which our baptismal vows call us to do.
We need to honor indigenous culture for what it was and what it is. What it was is different from what it is. It is dishonorable to define Native culture and reach out in terms of our own definition. This is not about putting Indians on display. We’ve invited everybody and put it on Facebook. We don’t know who will come. But I’m thinking of it as a giant talking circle.