Manataka™ American Indian Council


 

 

SPIRITUAL MEDICINE

ELDERS SPEAK

 

 

 

Through Bullets and Arrows - Peace is Sought

By Rev. Thomas M. Haley, Manataka Elder

 

More and more these days, newspaper headlines shout out about people being shot, bombed, executed, and murdered. Children, young adults and the elderly are not exempt from this tragedy.

As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer has written, there is a spiritual solution for every problem.

When Rev. Dr.  Randy S. Woodley came to the Christian faith at age 19, He learned to ignore his ethnic heritage because he was told it was “of the flesh.” His experience is consistent with the colonial history of those living in a land where the dominant culture is associated with one particular faith tradition.

 

Because Euro-Americans contextualized their Christian faith so well (see, for example, the White Jesus on the wall of First Church of Any Town, USA), Euro-Americans became confused over what was faith and what was culture.

 

The resulting mixture of Christianity and Euro-American civilization was the decision that all native religious ceremonies and many cultural practices be outlawed. For almost 100 years, in the name of progress, American Indian children were forced into government-sponsored, denominationally run boarding schools where many were abused physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually, and where many of them died.

 

If most Americans knew the depths of degradation American Indian people have gone through at the hands of the U.S. Government and the Church, they would be in profound disbelief that any Indian would ever become a Christian.

 

But then there is the other reality of Indian life: Indians are normally forgiving people and many really like Jesus in spite of the kind of Christianity presented to them. Authentic traditional elders — the real elders of the people — were tolerant and kind to everyone. They knew there was only one God the Creator, call him what you will, to hear our prayers. These elders were often much better at the practice of Christian life, even without formal Christian training and dogma, than the missionaries who tried to convert them.

 

The missionaries did a real number on American Indians by preventing them from expressing our devotion to Jesus through their own cultures. Those who condemned their cultures simply taught them to hate themselves and, in the end, to hate God for making them Indian.

 

Clearly, not all missionaries were evil. There have always been a few people of faith who thought and acted in ways ahead of their time.

 

After centuries of tragedy, America’s indigenous have a gift to offer the West. As First Nations people learn to deconstruct the Western worldview and bring their own unique perspective to the table, they find stark differences between Indigenous and Western faith systems. The bottom line being that a rigid Western worldview is essentially at odds with the shalom-kingdom teachings of Jesus and, the parallel construct of the harmony way found among Indigenous peoples.

 

The gospel is about living out love and giving away power, especially among the poor and marginalized. The Spirit of God affirms our unique giftedness. The Western worldview left unchecked, may eventually destroy the earth. Helping others to see shalom through the lens of an Indigenous worldview will not only help heal our past, it can heal our planet.

 

Black lives matter along with Red, White, Yellow and Brown. ALL LIVES MATTER.


We gather to celebrate freedom lets never forget to honor and protect the sacred sites, sacred ways, and sacred religious sites of the Native Americans.


by Rev. Thomas M. Haley, Manataka Elder

 

 


 

 




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