It is great to see UU congregations collaborating with our American Indian friends. Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship is leading the way. Quimper Unitarian is also working with the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe. Recently, I have been a part of three events that have increased my knowledge of the intersections of support for climate justice, economic justice, and the rights of indigenous people.
This Spring, I was a part of the UU College of Social Justice learning trip which spent a week with the Lummi Nation. We learned first hand of the tragic history of colonization of this hemisphere...
...and the fantastic efforts that the Lummi have taken to move forward. We also learned of their ongoing challenges. It was a remarkable life-altering experience. Lummi Nation is a national leader in the American Indian movement and in the efforts to protect the Salish Sea from the consequences of fossil fuel export at Cherry Point. They were present at General Assembly, Unitarian Universalism's annual international gathering, and central to the Public Witness event that Saturday. The two gentlemen featured in the image above spoke eloquently, appealing for our aid in fending off the life-defiling efforts of the carbon pollution industry. I highly recommend viewing the event at the UUA website. They are true warriors in the best sense of the term.
My wife and I recently attended the 10th Vine Deloria Jr Symposium at the Northwest Indian College hosted by the Coast Salish Institute. Simply stated: It is impactful, insightful and inspiring. A genuine love of community and spirit of the sacred permeated the event as did a deep reverence of ancestors, elders, sense of place and hope for coming generations.This was reflected in each speaker, who began with their white and Indian names mentioning their immediate lineage (parents and grandparents). They spoke first in their native tongue and then in English.
The symposium provided a large portal into American Indian culture and the profound contribution Vine Deloria Jr has made and the influence he continues to have. Theologian, historian, and activist, in 1974 he was named by Time magazine as one of the primary “shapers and movers” of Christian faith and theology. I have read two of his 19 books and look forward to reading more. He is truly remarkable, innovative and courageous.
Especially impressive were the NW Indian College students and the quality of their work. There are 37 Indian Colleges in the USA which bring a refreshing integrated approach to education. As Dr. Deloria has painfully pointed out, “Western civilization does not link knowledge and morality, rather it connects knowledge with power.” noting that in that context, “While the world has problems, universities have departments.”
You may recall similar insights put forward by Buckminister Fuller in An Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. He pointed out that power uses fragmentation specifically to gain and maintain control. Their love and commitment to future generations was illustrated when a group of teens attending a science camp sponsored by the college joined us on Saturday. The speakers lit up with excitement and directed many comments to them. Deloria defined “personality”(character) as a blending of power and place. We met some amazing personalities.
We completed our experience fittingly in a canoe buoyed by the sacred Salish Sea. Fortunate to be in the company of two American Indian leaders, strong women from OK (one Comanche/Arapaho and the other an “absentee” Shawnee). I had the great honor to pull alongside my dear friend Freddie Lane as Antoine George skillfully skippered and tutored us in the ways of the canoe. We are forever grateful. We encourage you to join us for next year’s event. You won’t regret it.
And, please add a comment. Let’s get a conversation flowing.