“Most Quakers still don’t know our history as participants in this enterprise of forced assimilation of Native people,” Paula Palmer says. “So the first thing that we have to do is learn the truth.”
In this video, Paula discusses Friends’ role in the traumas inflicted on the indigenous peoples of North America since the arrival of European colonists—particularly in the administration of boarding schools where Native children were forced to abandon their heritage and embrace the ways of White Christian culture, where they would never be truly accepted as equals.
Although it’s easy to “shake our fingers” at previous generations, Paula warns us that retroactive judgment isn’t enough—Quakers today need to hold themselves accountable as well. “As we think about work that we do today as Friends,” she says, “we need to examine our own attitudes and make sure that ways that we are trying to do good in the world are not also coming out of a sense of superiority.”