Celebrating Indigenous Culture

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The values and love at the heart of Unitarian Universalism call us to reflect on the ways that white supremacy culture has shaped the countries of North America and across the globe, and all of us as individuals. UUs honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day each year in early October as a day for truth telling and listening. This is one way to engage in reflection together in community.

As the Revs. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Clyde Grubbs share in their meditation “History’s Road” from Voices from the Margins:

We have become a global village, with a growing realization of how fragile this earth is, and how interconnected we are to each other and to all creation.

We cannot continue to live in the old way. We must make a change, see a new way. A way toward peace with justice and a healthy planet.

O Great Creative Spirit: You have given a vision of the good, and we yearn for a new way. But where are we to find the courage to begin this work? We know that a different tomorrow is possible, but how can we build it?

Read the full text of this inspiring meditation online in WorshipWeb. In this newsletter, you’ll find additional resources to support our shared work of reflection and solidarity.

In this story from UU World, members of First Parish in Portland, ME were inspired by guest speaker Sherri Mitchell, a lawyer and activist for the Wabanki people. They used knowledge of their congregation’s history of violence toward local Indigenous Peoples as a catalyst for taking meaningful action to build solidarity. In partnership with the Wabanaki Alliance, a cooperative association of four independent Tribes that span Maine and Canada’s maritime provinces, congregation members organized to help secure legal protections for the sovereignty of all Native Tribes in Maine.

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In 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe touched off a global movement in their effort to protect their land and sacred sites from construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. UU minister the Rev. Karen Van Fossan recounts this experience in her new memoir, A Fire at the Center: Solidarity, Whiteness, and Becoming a Water Protector. Rev. Van Fossen, who identifies as white, reflects in the book: “In order to bring my own fullness, my own wholeness, to this work of liberation, I need a genuine understanding of…my own culture. Through this process of unfolding…I believe I can participate with more energy and integrity in decolonizing movements that have nourished my body and my spirit, guiding the course of my life.”

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The InterNātional Indigenous Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC) works to build relationship among Original Nations and Peoples of the world through learning about each other as individual peoples and sharing culture through stories and songs. The UUA was honored recently to be among the sponsors of the INITC’s gathering in September, called “Stories and Songs of the People.” Learn how your congregation can be part of the INITC’s critically important work of moving beyond tolerance and reaching genuine understanding and acceptance of each other, to begin the healing process.

Stories and Songs of the People

The Earth and the lands on which we live are deeply sacred. Unitarian Universalists fight for climate justice out of a commitment to protecting our interconnected web of life and for Native Tribes across North America, the land itself represents sites of sacred meaning and practice. UU congregations and communities can learn more about the land they occupy as part of our faith’s ongoing work of relationship building, solidarity, and accountability for our denomination’s complicit history in white supremacist colonialism.

Land Acknowledgements and Beyond