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Showing posts from January, 2021

The Settler Problem

  Now that we hopefully have established that it is not an Indian problem, but a Settler problem, what are white settlers going to do about it? This last week I watched an online screening of the documentary  Dawnland  about a recent nonprofit group’s 4-year process in the State of Maine for “Truth and Reconciliation” about the harm caused by removing tribal children from their homes and being placed with white families. The American Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was to end placements of Indian children with non-Indians. However, such placements continue. The federal law was struck down in 2018 as unconstitutional. Today, tribal children are removed from their homes at much higher rates than white children are; in Minnesota, a 30 times higher rate. (I do not know what it is in Wyoming.) The Maine Truth and Reconciliate Commission collected nearly 200 stories from Native Americans from tribal members about children’s removal and submitted a report along with recommendations, the firs

Still, We Must Continue

I am pleased with the positive response to the reading of   The Letter from Birmingham Jail   at our Martin Luther King Day online event, not only with the attendance, but also people asking how to get involved with the Riverton Peace Mission and new additions to this weekly blog as a result. I agree with Rodger McDaniel’s comment that it is so impactful to hear King’s letter read aloud. Other responses reflected on how much of King’s letter remains true today, noting our continuing reluctance and fears to move out of our comfort zones to confront racism. One wondered, as I do, what would King say today. I suspect King would agree with Erica Littlewolf, a Northern Cheyenne, Program Coordinator of the Indigenous Vision Circle for the Mennonite Central Committee, when she said in response to the question at on online event this past week sponsored by the National Council of Churches, “Where are we now?” by saying, “We are where we have always been!” She noted that this country was built

Human Dignity

Many nations’ constitutions guarantee a right to human dignity; the U.S. Constitution does not. That is what I learned this past week in a webinar sponsored by the American Bar Association with panelists legal scholars Erin Daley and James R. May, co-authors of the first casebook ever on human dignity rights law, entitled simply,   Dignity Law.   Montana’s and Puerto Rico’s constitutions do include dignity. Dignity is the core of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Why our constitution does not include dignity makes sense. Ours was written for white males who owned property. Slavery was legal. American Indians were not viewed as humans. The death penalty was legal, and still is at the federal level and in some states like Wyoming. Wife and child beating was acceptable. Removal of children from their homes bound for boarding schools was viewed as needed to erase Indigenous cultures. Discrimination against homosexuals and transgender people is still allowed in Wyoming where M

Hate and Love

  What happened last Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol exemplifies what hatred can do. Today I complete my review of Howard Thurman’s book   Jesus and the Disinherited , a book written in 1949 that Martin Luther King, Jr. valued and that I believe can help guide us to address border town racism in Riverton. The last two chapters of Thurman’s book are entitled  Hate  and  Love,  respectively. He outlines hatred to be human contact void of fellowship with unsympathetic understanding expressed by ill will that results in “hatred walking on earth.” Hatred becomes respectable. It dehumanizes. It destroys our core being and guarantees isolation and once released cannot be confined to the offender. Jesus rejected hatred because, Thurman explains, it means death to our minds and souls. Is that not what we witnessed this past week and are feeling right now? But Thurman reminds us that Jesus said to love our enemies. In personal relationships that requires reconciliation. Beyond personal enemies are

Deception

I presented a program a few years ago at a church women’s luncheon highlighting health disparities caused by discrimination against African American women. Afterwards, a white woman in the audience told me that her son was married to a black woman who had told her that she had never experienced discrimination. I know this could not be possible, not in the United States, because I have witnessed discrimination against people of color too many times and even against myself for being with people not white.     Why would a black woman lie to her white mother-in-law? Howard Thurman answers that question in his book  Jesus and the Disinherited , a book written in 1949 that I began reviewing in my last week’s blog. Thurman begins Chapter Three with “Deception is perhaps the oldest of all the techniques by which the weak have protected themselves against the strong.” A conspiracy of silence protects the status quo. Social, political, and economic rewards are given to keep the silence. The issu