Thursday, February 11, 2010

a "neglected" Quaker concern...

You may not have heard of what severe weather is doing to the lives of Native Americans currently living on reservations on the plains.  You may well right now be living with a lot of snow, too, but your plight is likely not as dire.

Read it and mourn. 

As you mourn, click and join in helping both the short and the long term infrastructure development.  In the short term people are in life-threatening physical peril, in the long term infrastructure development will create jobs for those living in the some of the highest unemployment in the world.

There are still Friends engaged with Native American issues, but for most of us the historical Quaker concern over the plight of those the European (ancestors of so many of us)  "settlers" displaced is a vague piece of history that, when we are reminded, we are proud to claim as part of "our" spiritual heritage.

This was once a very big deal for our religious Society although, much like the moral high ground upon which we like to place ourselves in regard to racial and sexual equality, it's a complicated historical picture.  Some of what Quakers did was very good and some things were misguided and put weight on the other side of the scale.

This opportunity, though, is always there for us to put more weight on the very good side of the scale and now is a time more of that very good is critically, urgently needed.

You are not going to be donating to merely maintaining people in a bad situation.  American Indian tribes are making strides forward notwithstanding the lack of resources at their disposal. Supporting this effort is always timely and prevents set backs to progress.

Do not be fooled, by the way:  gambling--the "white buffalo"--has not and will not reverse the poverty into which so many Indians have been locked by our culture's historical genocide.  In so far as it has bestowed "prosperity" on Indian tribes it has not spread that to all tribes, only a few.

Those in the Society of Friends who are still actively engaged with Native issues deserve the long run support of our churches and meetings as American Indians begin to emerge from the dark night through which they have lived the last few hundred years.

Thank you.


Beth said...

Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention - this was a very powerful post.

Phil said...

Just for the record ... far from it being a neglected testimony or an historic artifact ... Salem Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, in the far south of New Jersey, is very much under the weight of our relations with the local Nanticoke Lenni Lenape. And, thank Heaven, they're very much under the weight of maintaining relations with us as well.

This isn't to talk about how great we are, but to encourage other Friends' meetings to re-establish connections with the First Nations. The blessings go both ways.

Tmothy Travis said...

Thank you, Phil and I regret not being aware of the effort of Salem Quarterly so that I could include them among those to which I called attention in the last paragraph of my post.

I appreciate your example and hope that Friends who may not be aware of this historical testimony might be encouraged to see that it is as timely as it ever was.