Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Lament brought many tears, and a beginning

First, a Papal Bull allowing encouraging the seizure of First People's lands.

Then a Supreme Court Decision.

And our own church participating in the Government's goals and directives in westward expansion.

If you haven't seen it, please watch this:

At our Lament service last night, joining with those who were gathering at the same time in Indianapolis (what a great place name to Lament the Doctrine of Discovery!), we gathered --four strong women, to pray, to talk, to grieve --all of us needing tissue at some point....

We began by praying our Baptismal Covenant together, then I read a part of Genesis 12 --God told Abram: "Leave your country, your family, and your father's home for a land that I will show you. .... At that time the Canaanites occupied the land.

--and then we read Psalm 103 together...

And then I read these:

We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, has not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand...
     Thomas Paine, “Common Sense”, 1776

The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be associated in one federal Union.
      John Quincy Adams, 1811

And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.
      John O’Sullivan, Columnist, December 1845

We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race.... We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged ... that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent.
     Senator John C. Calhoun, Speech to Congress, January 4, 1848
The difficult Indian problem cannot be solved permanently at this end of the line. It requires the fulfillment of Congress of the treaty obligations that the Indians were entreated and coerced into signing. They signed away a valuable portion of their reservation, and it is now occupied by white people, for which they have received nothing.

They understood that ample provision would be made for their support; instead, their supplies have been reduced, and much of the time they have been living on half and two-thirds rations. Their crops, as well as the crops of the white people, for two years have been almost total failures.

The dissatisfaction is wide spread, especially among the Sioux, while the Cheyennes have been on the verge of starvation, and were forced to commit depredations to sustain life.

These facts are beyond question, and the evidence is positive and sustained by thousands of witnesses.
     General Miles, December 19, 1890
     One week before the massacre at Wounded Knee

General Miles served as the Government's representative on the Reservation (which in truth, at that point was nothing more than a great POW camp --or concentration camp in which the People were NOT allowed to worship or live as their ancestors did) --after three decades of deceit, broken promises and untold aggression, he wrote the above to Washington DC just before the massacre at Wounded Knee --Sitting Bull had been murdered, some of the People --scared and seeking religious ceremony and comfort-- fled the area to go join relatives near Pine Ridge --women, children and men were slaughtered as they neared Pine Ridge at Wounded Knee....

"I got myself up and followed up the ravine. I saw many dead men, women, and children lying in the ravine. When I went a little way up, I heard singing; going a little way farther, I came upon my mother who was moving slowly, being very badly wounded. She had a soldier's revolver in her hand, swinging it as she went. I do not know how she got it. When I caught up to her she said, 'My son, leave me; I am going to fall down now.' As she went up, soldiers on both sides of the ravine shot at her and killed her. I returned fire upon them, defending my mother. When I shot at the soldiers in a northern direction, I looked back at my mother and she had already fallen down.
     Wasee Maza (Iron Tail) telling of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Iron Tail lost his mother, two brothers, wife and children at Wounded Knee.

And we talked and prayed. And wept.

And then I read the confession from the the service for Reconciliation (BCP p450) --and I confessed aloud the actions of the church, the government, the current acts of racism and oppression...

Holy God, heavenly Father, you formed me from the dust in
your image and likeness, and redeemed me from sin and
death by the cross of your Son Jesus Christ. Through the
water of baptism you clothed me with the shining garment of
his righteousness, and established me among your children in
your kingdom. But I have squandered the inheritance of your
saints, and have wandered far in a land that is waste.

Especially, I confess to you and to the Church . . .

Here the Penitent confesses particular sins.

Therefore, O Lord, from these and all other sins I cannot
now remember, I turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Receive me again into the arms of your mercy, and restore me
to the blessed company of your faithful people; through him
in whom you have redeemed the world, your Son our Savior
Jesus Christ. Amen.

OMG... I wept seeing them weep... feeling within me my own ancestral giants....

We read the Magnificat together... and talked of healing and restoration.

One of the things we talked about --there are objects that survived Wounded Knee and the mass grave they threw the People in there... and locally (the folks murdered at Wounded Knee were from this area --from the Cheyenne River Reservation), a small group of women want to display them to the People and talk, educate, heal... but the Cultural Resources folk don't want to display them for any number of reasons --fragility, insurance --you name it.... How can we get these objects shown to the people?

Well... we are meeting again Friday to talk about it... and considering I have an advanced degree in museum stuff, they have asked me to attend and be with them to work with the Cultural Resource folk.... Didn't expect that.

And, we have decided to ask the Episcopal Church to help in a petition to our government to revoke the Medals of Honor given to those who shot down the fleeing or hiding women, men and children....

Didn't expect that either.... but that will only be the beginning.

At prayer this morning (from Romans 9:1-2)

I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people...

There is so much work to do. So much grief to honor. So many wrongs to touch and anoint. For too long our Nation has conspired through denial, silence and corruption to address our history that has formed our present. And too many will say well, I didn't do it, or, well, that's the result of war --they lost --get over it....

And that is not acceptable. Atrocities were perpetrated in our name. In as much as we do not permit and we prosecute soldiers who go astray in the field of war --we can at least acknowledge the wrong done at Wounded Knee... but that will only be the beginning....

--and, this lament is not new to me... I wrote here, and here, and always it seems.

Hey God, it's margaret. Lead us by your Spirit to right the wrongs done and build a better world for your children and the generations to come. Amen.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Interesting. One of the things in my prayers last night was for there to be "a place for people to see hope and growth, rather than despair and inertia." I hope the items can be displayed somehow.

KEL said...

Ohhh, weeping, tears, lament for what we have done and what we have left undone. And prayers for your discernment and wisdom to guide you on this most unique and necessary path you find yourself, for all our sake. Would love to see the exhibit of objects you will enable, I'm confident.

danielrondeau said...

Thank you for sharing this post. I was still in the hospital when the Episcopal Church voted to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery in 2009. Until your post I was completely oblivious of that action. I always learn something new when you speak. Thank you. ~dan

danielrondeau said...

In my lectio today, this: "Come together and listen" by Robert Two Bulls in the August edition of Sojourners. Though you may already be aware of Robert, his work, this particular effort, his trip to Taize, and more, your post has opened my eyes to see more. Once again, thank you. ~dan

it's margaret said...

Dan --God bless you.

A member of a congregation here on Cheyenne River went to France --went to the recent Taize meeting in Chicago --we are working on a big Taize event in the next year...

And, yes --share this with all you know --we have so much work to do.

Caminante said...

I continue to marvel and give thanks to God for your ministry of presence, love, accompaniment, compassion that can be so costly but throughout is so reconciling.