“Awaken, O you people! Entrust your hearts to Love. For the Beloved reigns supreme; let all the earth give thanks! Your unseen Presence is great in the land; You sit with the leaders of nations. Let them be silent and guided by your Voice! Holy are You!”
Psalm 99 – Praying the Psalms by Nan Merrill
Greetings, Fremont Family:
On Monday, for the third year in a row, I celebrated Indigenous People’s Day with Great Spirit UMC. Pastor Allen, in partnership with other Native organizations in Portland, sponsored an extraordinary day of conversations, music and an Indigenous Marketplace all on-line! I was disappointed to learn that Rebecca Nagle, citizen of the Cherokee Nation, had to cancel her evening presentation because her podcast entitled, “This Land,” had a profound impact on me over the summer. If you are one who listens to podcasts, I cannot recommend “This Land” enough. You will be deeply moved.
Then, last night, our Fremont team participated in the second session of “Reckoning with Race,” and we met Sal Sahme, Elder of the Warm Springs Tribe, who spoke to us of growing up in the Indian boarding school and the efforts to “assimilate” him into the “American way of life.” The motto he heard over and over again was, “kill the Indian and save the man.” He spoke to us of his experiences growing up with his grandmother in the Presbyterian Church, but also of his initiation into the Hopi tribe where his mother’s people originated. At the end of the session, Elder Sahme sang and prayed the most beautiful blessing over us. In preparation for the class, we watched a video on the Doctrine of Discovery. If you have some time, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvM4SJN76Yg&t=1517s.
The thing that stands out to me in the conversations of these past few days is the incredible harm that Christianity has done over the years in it’s dualistic approach to faith. One Mennonite Native woman in the video remarked that when it came to being Christian or Native, “you couldn’t be both. If you were one, you had to abdicate the identity of the other.” That kind of either/or mentality resulted in incredible violence socially and culturally for American Indians. The invitation for us participating in these conversations is to imagine instead a both/and approach to new ways of being in healing and in community with one another going forward. What does it look like to embrace another without trying to “indoctrinate” or “destroy” what another person brings to the relationship?
To this end, our “homework” as a Fremont team is to do some research about the land that our congregation currently owns and occupies. We are to look into how we came into the land, and what does the land bear and for whom. Once we know some of the stories, we can acknowledge with humility our place in God’s larger movement toward reconciliation and peace. We look forward to sharing some of these stories with you, and maybe you have some stories of the earliest days of Fremont you would like to share with us. We would welcome your input.
In the meantime, deep blessings to you as you move through your week, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Grace and peace, Pastor Erin