Seeking Right Relationship with Native Americans

Interview 7 Comments

What can be done to heal the damage done to native communities by colonists, including Quakers? As Paula Palmer shares, it begins with telling the truth.

Is QuakerSpeak worth $1 a video?

Comments 7

  1. jules

    City & State
    What was, is gone…it’s the What is …that now matters, lets make amends, shall we ?

  2. mary dwan

    City & State
    springfield Oregon
    I have been reading a very eye-opening book, Leilani Sabzalian’s “Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools, “about how and what schools teach about Native Americans (NA)and how that affects the Native American and dominant-culture American students. I was shocked that even , today, with the best intentions, teachers act as if these NAs were all one people rather than those of many separate nations , that they are to be studied for their past and that that past is represented by simplified representations of who they were and how, the implication is, they still, really are , e.g. Drum playing, feather costumed, basket weaving simpler (more primitive) than us (European “white”) people. No context is given in most teachers’ lessons for the past or present of these various nations, nor information about certain American laws meant to protect ( as well, unfortunately, to limit) the N.A.s. For example, teachers are not allowed, legally, though they rarely know it, to even have students paint a mural whose subject is Native Americans, without permission of a NA nation. In one such classroom, where students were beginning to design an Indian-themed mural, the students got to interact with and personally know members of a nearby nation, which gave them more personal as well as complex knowledge, of real people. This exchange occurred only because the author of the book and an Indian educator in the community told the teacher of the law. The Native Americans actually told the class that they could not design the mural the way they had planned ( half naked Indians in a canoe….) and from then on , thought-provoking, sometimes uncomfortable, but ultimately awakening, discussions occurred.

    I like the beginning of what you have been attempting in trying to have more realistic, contemporary understanding of Native Americans, then and now. I would add questions that delve into, for example, why ( not just where ) are certain nations living where they now live? What treaties or treatments shaped their movements? What kinds of governments do they have now? Who are some present day Native Americans we should know about in all the various fields of life? How, in general, do dominant powers insidiously steal from and undermine, people in the conquered nations, as Quakers did when they took NA children from their families into boarding schools, believing, that these Quakers, who knew nothing about the NA culture, would “civilize” these kids, thus maintaining the binary us-they simple paradigm which takes away the complex authenticity of the conquered people. Obviously, these past Quakers did not even make parallels with their own historical beginnings, when they were jailed in windowless cells and not fed, because they dressed differently from the mainstream and did not worship or think, religiously, in the ways of the dominant society, of which, they had so recently been a part. Perhaps another question could be something like “Why did we and why do many people, not learn from, our past what, had we learned, we would recognize as happening now in a different form. What are our prejudiced views of others now and where do they come from? Who in our community do we not know or seek to know? Why?

  3. Ray Regan

    City & State
    When I was a child we played cowboys and Indians. Indians were the bad guys, the enemy and that was normal. Today we know better. Paula’s leading is a buried truth, the harm done to Native American populations was and is abhorrent. As Paula said, we are here to do the best we can to make amends.

    We also know the truth about African Americans and atrocities committed by white people. They were taken from their land, chained in boats, viewed as inhuman, to become slaves for American prosperity. Families were separated, babies taken from mothers rings a familiar recent tone. Their homes in Africa are unknown, yet they live in a society today where hateful white hearts still surround them. Like Paula said, “No one here made these things happen, but we are the ones living here now”. Most of us know this history and living today as the privileged race, we need to open our hearts and take the long walk in government, in our thoughts, speech, and actions to work toward tolerance and equality for our people whose difference is only the color of their skin.

  4. jules

    City & State
    Karma, does and will correct all misdeeds”
    “A Universal Justice System monitors our evil versus righteous behavior and implements corresponding retribution.”
    (from Daheshism)

  5. Roberta Moto

    City & State
    Speaking always in past tense negates what is still happening today. Minorities are still oppressed and still are suffering. Amends without changing the systems that oppress people of color is empty.

  6. mary dwan

    City & State
    Please tell us which nations did you base the saying about what needs to happen for healing to occur?
    Thanks — and one of the points the book I mentioned makes, repeatedly, is how “white” Americans act, however innocently, as if all Native Americans are the same. It’s as if we were to say that “South Americans say that for healing to occur….” , rather than Brazilians, Chileans etc.
    Despite my squibbles, I am still very glad that you have followed your important leading; as you can see, what you wrote has inspired me to keep thinking about our relationship with Native Americans!

  7. Kathy Hersh

    City & State
    Miami, Florida
    Wonderful! The workshop, a ceremony really, that Paula created with imput and permission of indigenous people is very powerfully educational and spiritual.

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