on justice, part 4: reconciliation and learning to see

62/366 - March morning walk in snow and fog

This was the hardest part of the conference for me:  Richard Twiss delivered a blistering speech about our treatment of the Native American people.   "Stop witnessing to us," he said.  "It's not working."  And then went on to detail the decimation of their population through massacre, war, and intentional spreading of disease; broken treaties; mission schools and the obliteration of their culture in the name of "christian" religion.   Mission schools and missionaries often tried to remake the natives into their own (white european) image. "We learned God loved us, but He didn't like us."  He shared about the shame that comes when your identity and culture are treated as something that must be snuffed out in order for you to please God. 

I had watched the video below the week before and was already feeling quite convicted about the injustice that my people have done to the Native American peoples.   I hope you might find time to watch it.  I think it's so important to understand our history from the viewpoint of the vanquished, not just the victors.

But Twiss didn't stop with the past.  He unflinchingly pointed out that we were talking about wells in Africa when the Native population is suffering devestating poverty right under our noses.  I couldn't write down all the statistics about poverty, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, hunger, disease, etc. that he shared, but I remember this clearly:  "You don't see us," he said.  "You don't remember us.  You don't think about us, and you certainly don't listen to us."

And I know it's true.  Although Twiss was simply being direct and even funny much of the time, I was as convicted and heart-broken as I would ever be through the whole conference. 

This is a tricky subject; and I certainly don't know how to fix it, but Twiss had some beginning ideas: 

Learn about the Native populations in your own region.  Know their history and understand what has happened to them.  Know what their needs are now.  Learn to SEE Natives in the culture around you. Visit a pow wow; be interested. 

And also for me:  pray for forgiveness for my ongoing indifference and lack of concern and lift these beautiful people up in prayer for God's healing and restoration.