Thanksgiving: Richard Twiss on Native Oppression & Truth Commissions


I found this article printed at Brian McLaren’s blog. I’ve mentioned Richard Twiss here before, and you really must explore his books and website: www.wiconi.org!

Native American tells churches, 'It's time for a truth commission' 
By Stephen Brown
Ecumenical News 
International Daily News Service 
23 June 2010
A Native American leader has challenged a global Protestant body to create a truth and reconciliation commission to redress the injustice of Church involvement in cultural assimilation against indigenous peoples. Richard Twiss (www.wiconi.org), a member of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe, said the Church had been, "a willing partner", in the oppression of Native Americans. He spoke at the founding meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Native Americans had numbered 50 million in 1400 but by 1895 accounted for barely 230,000, as a results of war and disease, Twiss said.
"Here in the United States our goal is to rescue theology from the cowboys. The cowboys have controlled the language of heaven for a very long time," he said. Native Americans and indigenous peoples, "are not co-equal participants in the life, work and mission of the Church in North America," asserted Twiss. "We have never been encouraged to contextualize the Gospel story." Twiss said a truth and reconciliation committee was necessary to provide redress for the misappropriation of Scripture and the co-opting of the Bible as a tool of colonialism and imperialism. He said that white settlers’ takeover of North American land had been underpinned by the biblical narrative of the Israelites conquering the "Promised Land".
Twiss pointed to a boarding and residential school system in North America designed to promote the assimilation of Native Americans. "Our children were forcibly removed from our homes and forcibly sent to boarding schools, mostly run by Christian denominations. On my reservation it was Catholicism," said Twiss. "They were physically abused, mentally abused and, worst of all, sexually abused. "We were made to feel ashamed, we were made to fell inferior … in the name of the Bible and U.S. and Canadian nationalism," he said. "Although it was done in the name of evangelism and mission … the end result was that today our native people are still struggling with what it means to be human beings."
South Africa introduced a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of white minority rule to deal with gross human rights violations committed under apartheid. A similarly named commission was established in Canada in 2008 as part of a settlement between the federal government, aboriginal organizations and churches, over abuse in church-run residential schools for First Nations peoples
(c) Ecumenical News 
International Ecumenical News International Switzerland

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