Celebrate the Contribution of Indigenous Peoples
On August 9, 2012 the United Nations commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Please take time on this day to learn more about the current realities of Indigenous peoples within United Methodist Women, our United Methodist Church, our nation and our world.
Indigenous women are leaders in our United Methodist Women organization and the issues of indigenous sovereignty have been long-term concerns of United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Church.
Here are resources and ways United Methodist Women study, join in the discussion and lead this world-wide movement to lift up Indigenous people:
- Voices of Native American Women, a United Methodist Women publication, speaks of the fears, pains, trials and victories woven together by Native American women to build a future grounded in justice. Experience the power of this collective wisdom from women determined to be heard. (Mission Resource Center # M101-2010-01, $6.00, www.missionresourcecenter.org; 800-305-9857)
- The 2012 General Conference passed a new resolution on the “Doctrine of Discovery,” legal language created during the conquest of the Americas to justify the taking of native lands and properties. This legal framework, adopted as US law in 1823, is still utilized to justify the exploitation of minerals and resources on native lands today. The United Methodist Church has committed to working “toward eliminating the Doctrine of Discovery as a means to subjugate Indigenous peoples of property and land,” and to repent for past sins against Native Peoples.
- The 2012 General Conference passed a resolution on the Trail of Repentance and Healing. Under the leadership of our bishops the church has committed to launch study, dialogue and acts of repentance in all conferences over the next four years. This includes a call for all local churches to “develop and nurture relationships with the indigenous persons of the place where that conference resides through a process of deep listening and learning.”
Healing begins by “discovering the ongoing impact of historic traumas; confessing our own participation in the continuing effects of that trauma; working beside Indigenous persons to seek solutions to current problems; and advocating and resourcing programs which are self-determined by native and indigenous persons…” The organization of United Methodist Women is committed to engage in this listening and healing process with the whole church.
- United Methodist Women is active in the annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, held each May in New York. In 2012 the international assembly focused on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” United Methodist Women supported Indigenous-led interfaith worship and a special cultural event on mining and Indigenous peoples.
- In 2008 United Methodist Women studied Native American concerns in both church and society. You can read the study and explore ways to respond. Giving Our Hearts Away: Native American Survival, by Thom White Wolf Fassett (Mission Resource Center. www.missionresourcecenter.org; 800-305-9857; #M3015-2007-01)
- This August, United Methodist Women National Office will convene Native American United Methodist Women from across the country to worship, celebrate, share hopes, needs and concerns. The outcome of this consultation will help to shape ministry by and with Native United Methodist Women.