Paths

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Pathsforpeacemakingwith host peoplesby Steve Heinrichs3 rd Edition


The Path of Learning and unlearning• Listen to Indigenous voices; storytellers, poets and critical theorists like GlenCoulthard (Red Skins, White Masks), Leanne Simpson (Dancing on Our Turtle’sBack), Taiaiake Alfred (Wasase), and Richard Wagamese (One Native Life).Ponder life, past and present, from another set of lenses.• Attend to Settler voices who are walking a good path. Folks like John RalstonSaul (The Comeback), Victoria Freeman (Distant Relations), Paulette Regan(Unsettling the Settler Within), and Rudy Wiebe (Stolen Life).• Re-read the Bible. Seriously. The Scriptures contain powerful stories ofliberation that can help ‘unsettle’ our souls and mobilize the church for justice.The shadow traditions – those tales of imperialism, conquest and oppression– can remind us of paths not to be taken.ƌƌƌƌFor helpful Indigenous guides, look to Randy Woodley (Shalom and theCommunity of Creation), James Treat (Native and Christian) and TinkTinker (American Indian Liberation).For settler insights, check out Chris Budden (Following Jesus in InvadedSpace), Wes Howard-Brook (Come Out My People!) and Mark Brett(Decolonizing God).• Watch Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and get informed aboutthe latest news from an Indigenous perspective.• Dig into your family history and discover the ways your people have engagedboth host peoples and lands in the past. Celebrate the good, lament and learnfrom the unhealthy, and explore ways to take responsibility for any past injusticewhich has benefitted you today.→→Be patient. As Justice Murray Sinclair has said, “If it took seven generations to mess things upthis bad, it’ll take at least seven to mend it.”→→Listen and listen again to Indigenous voices and their concerns. Dialogue is important, but weneed to do as Christ does, and privilege the words and wisdom of the marginalized.→ → Don’t feel guilty. You didn’t ask to be born into a colonial state (and church) thatdispossessed Indigenous peoples for settler well-being. Feel responsible for bearing yourpiece of the burden. What is God calling you to?Find most of the materials referenced in this handoutonline or in person at CommonWord Bookstore & Resource Centre(www.commonword.ca/go/95)1


• Deconstruct native stereotypes in your heart and community(check out www.mythperceptions.ca).→→Recognize the importance of the past. Most of us non-native folks come from a perspectivethat is continually looking to tomorrow. Native folks have deep memories. Get comfortablewith that. Ponder how the “past is sedimented in the present” (Charles Taylor).→ → Take hope in small numbers. It’s rare that whole congregations will get on board with thisjourney (though it does happen sometimes).• Invite local Indigenous elders, teachers and young people who would be willing tocome to your community and share. Create a safe space for dialogue and make sure tohonour their efforts with a generous gift (e.g., an art piece or craft from your tradition).• Participate in a NAIITS Conference. The North American Indigenous Institutefor Theological Studies is a grassroots, evangelical-Indigenous gathering thatcreates a space for the church to think through these issues theologically andmissiologically. It’s not just for pastors (see www.naiits.com).• Find positive stories about settler communities and churches that are learning towalk the path of solidarity, like the ones told in the DVD Two Rivers: A Native-American Reconciliation and Intotemak (a quarterly magazine).• Start conversations in your congregation/community to find out what othershave done in your particular city/town in years past to better relationships withhost peoples. You might be surprised!• Bring your circle of friends to an Indigenous place of learning. Perhaps an EldersCentre on a reservation, an urban Native Friendship Centre, or an IndigenousGovernance program at the local university.• For decades, faith-based activists have struggled for Indigenous justice. Be inspiredfrom their efforts and ponder what might work today (check out, Sherry Smith’s,Hippies, Indians and the Fight for Red Power; Roger Hutchinson’s, Prophets, Pastorsand Public Choices; and the Aboriginal Justice section of Kathleen Kern’s, InHarm’s Way).• Put a map up on your wall with the treaty areas, or a map that doesn’t have thecurrent provincial/territorial boundaries, but traditional territories of First Nationsand Inuit (for an example, see www.tribalnationsmaps.com).• Go on a guided delegation to be with Indigenous communities, learn theirhistories, and discover their “survivance.” Check out Christian Peacemaker TeamsAboriginal Justice (www.cpt.org) and Canadian Roots (www.canadianroots.ca).3


• Learn the basics of the local Indigenouslanguage. You don’t have to become fluent todiscover a worldview that can gift your mindand transform your heart.Notes and Reflections:→→Focus on possibilitiesrather than problems.In fact, take it a stepfurther, and dareto dream. Peoplemight dismiss you asidealistic…don’t let thatget in your way. Dreamand find other dreamerswho are trying to findways to flesh them out.Stuff will happen inthose circles.→→Set personal andcorporate goals. It’ll helpyou move along thisjourney.→→Acknowledge mistrust.History has taught manyIndigenous peoplesto not trust white,non-native peoples. Toomany broken promises.Accept that.→→Get angry! Jesus and theprophets got upset withinjustice. Anger is a toolof liberating potential.→ → Commit for the longhaul. There are no quickfixes for this brokenrelationship.____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________4


The Path of Relationship1) With other settlers• Share books with close acquaintances that can help stir a conversation.• Invite your friends to movie nights that can bring awareness and provoke action.Here are a few solid options:ƌƌ8th Fire (Contemporary Indigenous issues)ƌƌWe Were Children or Yummo Comes Home (Residential School stories)ƌƌReel Injun (Indigenous stereotypes)ƌƌSkins (a classic on inter-generational trauma)• Find a community of solidarity (or a few friends nearby) that you can pray with,talk with, do a book study with and discern next steps.• Organize a book club to engage the important issues; Thomas King’sInconvenient Indian, Michael Asch’s On Being Here to Stay: Treaties & AboriginalRights in Canada or the settler-Indigenous anthology, Buffalo Shout,Salmon Cry would be good (it has a study guide).• Share with your children/grandchildren the history of the place they live in, andwhat it might mean to live in Indigenous lands. There are many children’s booksto help with this. Good places to begin are Nicola Campbell’s Shin-Chi’s Canoe,Thomas King’s Coyote Columbus Story, and Jordan-Fenton’s Fatty Legs.• If you’re a teacher or student, grab some friends and explore how to create spacefor Indigenous knowledges and histories in the classroom. Check out SusanDion’s Braiding Histories, Sheila Cote-Meek’s Colonized Classrooms, and RaunaKuokkanen’s Reshaping the University.2) Connect with host peoples:• Contemplate ways to be neighbourly with Indigenous peoples in yourcommunity or the reservation next door (not simply to serve, but to get toknow and be friends with).• Attend powwows and Indigenous arts/craft fairs.• Go to the band office and introduce yourself. Ask if there are ways to get toknow the community; if there are public functions and festivities that youwould be welcome to attend. Check out the events board, and just show up.Have courage – you can do this!• Support and pray for Native ministries – like My People International(www.mypeopleinternational.com)– that have been a bridge betweenIndigenous cultures and Christianity for decades.5


• Volunteer at an Indigenous run organization. Try not to go to the Christian foodshelter as your first option. Look for a place to plug in where you will rub upwith Indigenous strength (though it’s there in the bread line too).• White suburbs are often a big deterrent to relationship with peoples of colour.Relocate your home so that you are closer to the local Indigenous community,increasing the possibility of real neighbourliness. As a friend of mine says,“Would we take Christ seriously if he looked like a middle-class suburbanCanadian and didn’t do life in those marginal spaces? Probably not.”• Honour the elders. Find ways to listen to their stories and offer to help them out(e.g., a ride to the clinic or grocery store, cutting firewood, and so on).• Establish a community house where Indigenous and settler peoples can live togetherand explore ways to be a sign and witness to just friendship in the community.• Far too many Indigenous women and men are in the prison system.Become a volunteer. Seek friendship and mutual learning.• Far too many Indigenous children are in the foster care system. Support Indigenouswomen and men who are trying hard to provide homes for these kids.• Become a foster parent for Indigenous youth; a foster parent who has strongfriendships with Indigenous aunties and uncles; a foster parent with a welcomeplace in the Indigenous community.3) Connect with the land and other ‘creaturely cousins’:• Many Indigenous communities believe humanity is just one creature in a worldof creaturely relations, and our fellow creatures have something to teach andspeak to us. Spend a full day, or even a weekend, outside in the rural or urban“bush”. Try listening – as the prophet Job once said - to the creatures thatsurround you.→→Don’t despair. Lift your heart to God and focus on the gifts and assets that you and yourgroup bring to this. There’s a lot of difficult stuff to work through, but you can do it.The Spirit is with us.→→Keep at least one eye on the present! Colonial systems and racist practices are not just athing of the past.6


• Learn the origin stories of the land and Indigenous peoples in your home region.If you don’t know an elder in the Indigenous community, your public libraryshould have resources.• Find out more about your bioregion, get to know its strengths, its currentstruggles, the species of plants and animals that are doing well or not.• Decolonize your diet. Find ways to eat and drink in rhythm with the land thatyou live in. Not only will it help you get to know the waters, plants, and animalsin your area…but it might be healthier too.Notes and Reflections:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________→→Exercise self-suspicion. The history of good intentions (e.g., residential schools) should lead usto some healthy doubt about our hopes, beliefs and desired actions.→ → Seek your healing, not just that of others. Stan McKay (Cree) says that we settlers“are wounded and marked by history.” Those wounds may not look the same as thecolonized, but they’re still there.7


The Path of Art, Song and Celebration8• Seek out Indigenous poets, musicians, and artists that can inspire, challenge andrenew your spirit. Here are a few examples: Poets - Rita Joe, Jeannette Armstrong,Gregory Scoffield; Musicians - Buffy Sainte-Marie, Indian City, Cheryl Bear andJonathan Maracle (the latter two do Christian worship); Visual Artists - OvideBighetty, Norval Morrisseau, Susan Point and Roy Henry Vickers.• Reflect on what you are learning and feeling through poetry, art, short story orsong, photography or video. Share with others what you’ve been experiencing toraise awareness.• Do up a subversive or humorous piece of art, drama or song than can ‘unsettle’ or‘re-indigenize’ your neighbourhood. Put it on public display.• Radical fashion - show your support by wearing clothing that symbolizes yourpride in and support of Indigenous peoples (T-shirts and hats with awarenessand action messages, native jewelry, maybe even a tattoo or two).• June 21st is National Aboriginal Day in Canada – join an event or celebration inyour community; throw a party and invite Indigenous and non-Indigenousto join you.• Did we mention powwow already? Spend a few days at an event, camping andenjoying the festive atmosphere. Just don’t eat too many bannock hotdogs.• Dream up some creative ways to share gifts and have fun together; some reserveand church communities have come together to do karaoke, games nights,pickling, B-B-Q’s, spaghetti nights, and more. Celebrate your common humanity.Notes and Reflections:_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The Path of Justice• When sharing in public, identify as settler andname the treaty territory/unceded host landsyou are from.• Read Indigenous newspapers(like www.firstperspective.ca)... and whenthe mainstream media picks up a ‘native’ issuethat has grabbed the public’s eye, courageouslyshare what Indigenous communities andcommentators are saying. You don’t have toagree, but offer another view to helpfullynuance the conversation.• Boldly confront racism when you seeit happening.• Find out what the local schools teach regardinghost peoples and their/our history. Encouragethem to create space for Indigenous voices andunderstandings.• Explore the history of struggle over land inyour area, and discover hopeful stories that cananimate discussion and action.• Put up a sign by your church identifying thetreaty territory you live in and the host peopleswhose lands you live on. Adjust your mailingaddress to include that info too!• Donate money to Indigenous charities seekingcultural renewal, land reparations, and more.• Are any sports teams (or corporations) inyour town/city using Native lingo/imagery as‘branding’ (i.e., Indians, Blackhawks, FightingSioux, Braves)? Find ways to resist: visit withlocal Indigenous activists and learn what’sbeen done; write a letter to local newspaper;start a petition.→→Lament. Though we arenot responsible for whatour ancestors have done,we should feel shame forthat history. But more thanthat, we need to grieve thedamage that our ancestorswrought, wittingly orunwittingly, for lament can“free us to act, because[we] are no longer afraidof uncovering that pain”(Victoria Freeman).→→Trauma is real. Take careof yourself. Colonialismimpacts peoples andcommunities differently,but it gets us all. Checkout Francoise Mathieu’s,Compassion Fatigue.→→Give thanks and celebrate!There’s a lot of heavy stuffthat you’re going to dealwith. Look for beauty. Taketime to sing, to say thanks,to ponder the good, to restin God.→→Be conscious of white andclass privilege. Find waysto deconstruct. See FrancesKendall’s UnderstandingWhite Privilege.• Go to Indigenous led rallies (e.g., Stolen Sistersand Idle No More). Spread the word and offerto help at future rallies.9


• Mobilize a group to get serious aboutunderstanding and undoing racism in our/yourchurch denomination. This is often thought ofas an American issue. Ask people of colour in ourcommunities... it’s right here.→→Receive anger, anddon’t take it personally.If you’re white, yourepresent - in somefashion - the face of thecolonizer. That’s tough.But as one settler allysays, “What I learnedis...[there’s] no point insaying, but that’s notme, but I don’t feel thatway.... No. I am white,and this is what mypeople did. This isthe truth.”→→Acknowledge complexity.Many of the issues weare dealing with arecomplicated. Black andwhite thinking doesn’talways help.Be comfortable withsome greys.→→Be willing to address thecontroversial. (Pack anextra shirt in case yousweat a lot like me).→→Scratch your head, andtry again. It often isn’teasy trying to figure outhow to engage this stuff.You’re not alone. Just“keep on keeping on.”• Form an Indigenous-settler support group inyour local high-school. Like LGBTQ persons,many Indigenous kids do not feel welcome, safe orsupported at school. Settler kids don’t have manyplaces to learn how to become allies. You cancreate such a space.• Lobby your MP and ‘the powers that be’ tohonour treaty obligations to Indigenous nations.• Discover the Indigenous place names thathave been ‘covered up’ by settler maps. Explorewith local Indigenous leaders the possibilityof renaming the neighbourhood around you(literally, remap or remark rivers, paths and sacredplaces, with plaques, signs, etc).• Petition bible colleges, seminaries and Christianuniversities to create a mandatory course onIndigenous-Settler relations, and to have at leastone Indigenous professor on staff.• As a community recognizing the dispossession ofIndigenous peoples seek bold ways to live the goodnews of Jubilee! Return a piece of land to thosepeoples who used to live there, or find a way toshare land “in common,” or give a portion of yourproperty taxes to host peoples as recognition ofthe historical-spiritual relationship.• Learn how to mobilize others into action.If you don’t have a mentor, check out these fine booksfor help: Organizing for Social Change (MidwestAcademy); Edward T. Chambers’ Roots for Radicals;Chris Crass’s Towards Collective Liberation; and Rev.Alexia Salvatierra’s Faith-Rooted Social Organizing.10


• Do up some creative posters and Banksy-style “graffiti” (Google it) and share itaround town to facilitate conversation. Focus on settler issues and be positive...you’re less likely to get in trouble that way.• Resist resource extraction. Demographically, there are a much higher percentageof Indigenous communities concerned about climate change and acting to stop theexploitation of the environment than settler communities. Find out what the areasof resistance are in your region. Find ways to join in (see Christian PeacemakerTeams, Aboriginal Justice - www.cpt.org and www.defendersoftheland.org).Notes and Reflections:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________11


The Path of Worship• Great news! The Creator longs for peace, reconciliation and justice more thanwe do, and the Spirit will help us pursue this path, with joy, gutsy determination,and laughter. So let’s pray and pray again. Pray with Christian friends; and pray –if invited – in traditional circles. We are all in this together.• Discern as a circle: What are the ways that you can create space – physically,audibly, visually, financially, spiritually – in your Church for Indigenous voicesand their concerns?• Encourage your Church to devote a sermon series and Fall/Spring Educationsemester on understanding Indigenous-settler relationships.• Take up and read an Indigenous Christian prayer book. Joyce Carlson’s TheJourney (Anglican) and Patrick Twohy’s Finding a Way Home (Catholic) areolder resources, but great places to begin.• Bring signs and symbols of our relationship with host land and peoples into thesanctuary; encourage recognition of such as part of weekly liturgy. Here’s anexample from my church community:ƌ ƌ“Hope Mennonite finds its home in the lands of the Cree, Ojibway,Dakota, and Metis nations. We gather in Treaty lands, covenantedbetween Indigenous and settler peoples in 1871. We gather in our commonhumanity as diverse communities, with unique stories and gifts, to learnfrom and celebrate each other.”• Discover within your tradition rituals that can connect you and your communityto land and host peoples. If you aren’t aware of any, take a risk and create some.• Memorize Scripture and Indigenous teachings (present and past) that can stiryour spirit as you walk the path. For quotable forms of the latter, check outKent Nerburn’s Native American Wisdom.• Translate gospel/biblical texts into today’s settler-Indigenous context(like Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Gospels, written for the Southern Statessegregated by racial hatred).→→Don’t fear making mistakes.→ → Believe that you have something to learn from Indigenous peoples. We settlers oftenstruggle with paternalism, believing our knowledges, religions, economics and wayof life superior. Confess, and do otherwise.12


• Put up pictures of the Native Christ in your church and home(check out the works by Ovide Bighetty, or find some of the many resourcesonline – Trinity Religious Artwork is a solid website, www.trinitystores.com).• Persuade your church/denomination to set aside a month in the liturgicalcalendar to engage local relationships and justice issues.Notes and Reflections:_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________→→Learn from, but don’t appropriate Indigenous traditions and spiritual practices.Show respect and honour to whom they belong.→→Don’t promise more than you can give. That creates a lot of hurt in Indigenous communities.→ → Relax, and trust the Spirit. Sometimes this stuff is a lot easier than we imagine.Certainly, more joyful and worth it! Go for it... and go in peace.13


Pathsforpeacemakingwith host peoplesby Steve HeinrichsDirector of Indigenous RelationsMennonite Church CanadaWhat can we do?More than ever before, Canadians are becoming aware of theirfractured relationship with host peoples. Many are looking forways to nurture better relationships and work for justice.We hope this booklet will spark a conversation, helping individualsand communities craft their own walks of peace.Find most of the materials referenced in this handoutonline or in person at CommonWord Bookstore & Resource Centrewww.commonword.ca/go/95600 Shaftesbury BlvdWinnipeg MB R3P 0M4Treaty One TerritoryToll-free: 1-866-888-6785P: 204-888-6781F: 204-831-5675E: office@mennonitechurch.caW: www.mennonitechurch.caMennonite Church Canada uses recycled paper that contains post-consumer waste in all its printing.

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