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Toward Right Relationship2019-10-28T23:44:20-05:00
What would right relationship among Native and non-Native peoples of North America look like? How can we begin to take steps in that direction in our communities, places of worship, schools, and other institutions? 
The Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples (TRR) program promotes education, reflection, dialogue, and action in response to these queries.

Our goal

Paula Palmer and Jerilyn DeCoteau (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

is to build relationships among Native and non-Native communities based on truth, respect, justice and our shared humanity.

Join us as we learn to challenge and support each other as we work toward right relationships that address more than 500 years of genocide, colonization, and forced assimilation of Native peoples. 

The Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples program

  • offers educational workshops, slide presentations, sermons, and talks for adults and youth in faith communities, civic organizations, schools and universities
  • encourages and coaches communities as they begin to work toward right relationship among Native and non-Native peoples
  • raises awareness of the ongoing impacts of the Indian boarding schools and ways to support healing
  • offers resources for education and responsible action

Native Americans suffer the lowest life expectancy and highest rates of infant mortality, teen suicide, murdered women, and unemployment, compared with all other Americans. These horrors have not come about by accident. They are the ongoing consequences of deliberate policies carried out by European and American governments and Christian denominations since the 15th century. The existence today of more than 550 Indigenous nations within US borders attests to their spiritual and cultural strength as sovereign peoples.

To non-Native people who would wish to support healing within Native communities, leaders like Pawnee attorney Walter Echo-Hawk say: face up to the root causes, learn the truth about our shared history on this continent, acknowledge the harm that was done, and make amends. How to start?

The first step in any truth and reconciliation process is truth-telling, so TRR’s work begins there. Our workshops present truths about our country’s history of genocide, land theft, colonization, and the forced assimilation of Native children by means of the Indian boarding schools and contemporary “child welfare” policies. Our goal is not to induce guilt, but to see ourselves — Native and non-Native Americans — and our institutions more clearly. What do truth and justice ask of us? How can we take steps to support healing?

Paula Palmer, a Quaker peace worker, and Jerilyn DeCoteau, an Ojibwe attorney and educator, founded and direct the Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples program. They created and facilitate the Toward Right Relationship workshops, and they have trained more than 100 Native and non-Native people who also facilitate the workshops in various parts of the country.

Presentations

TRR offers public presentations at the request of faith communities, schools, universities, and civic organizations throughout the United States. To request these presentations, please contact Paula Palmer.

We offer this 2-hour workshop in response to calls from Indigenous leaders at the United Nations and the World Council of Churches. Through an experiential exercise, we trace the historic and ongoing impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery, the 15th-century justification for European subjugation of non-Christian peoples. Our goal is to raise our level of knowledge and concern about these impacts, recognize them in ourselves and our institutions, and explore how we can begin to take actions toward right relationship. In the Doctrine of Discovery we find the roots of injustice. In the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we find the seeds of change. How can we nurture these seeds to bring forth the fruits of right relationship among Native and non-Native peoples? 

Download and circulate a flyer

Through this 1-hour program, 6-12 grade students symbolically experience the colonization of North America as the Native peoples and the European colonists experienced it. They hear the voices of Indigenous leaders, and European popes, monarchs, presidents, generals, and historians as the story unfolds. The exercise is followed by a response period, when students share what they learned, how they feel, and what they think about the reality of Native peoples in our society today. Supplementary materials for teachers are provided.

Jerilyn DeCoteau (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) and other Native American workshop facilitators offer this 2-hour program specifically for Native people. It places Native nations at the center of the history of this continent, and opens deep dialogue about the meaning of this history for Native people and all Americans today.

“The Toward Right Relationship workshop is an innovative and impactful step towards healing the wounds of genocide and colonization in our country. To move forward in a healthy way, we must first honestly face these truths.” — Brett Lee Shelton, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative, Native American Rights Fund

This 1-hour documentary film tells the story of a rural community in Washington state that undertook some significant actions toward reconciliation with the area’s Indigenous peoples. Following the film, a facilitated discussion will focus on your community: Who are the Native peoples who have lived and are now living on the land that you call home? How can you learn your region’s real history? What would right relationship with Native peoples look like in your community? What steps can you start taking in that direction?

This hour-long presentation teaches the history of the United States Boarding School Policy and offers an understanding of its devastating effects and what it may take to heal. The assimilationist purpose of the schools, to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” was very literally implemented, as demonstrated by historical statements and documents, photographs and the testimony of boarding school survivors. In these schools, all evidence of Indian culture, long hair, clothing, names, was destroyed and replaced, and any hint of cultural practice, language, ceremony, and social interaction, was forbidden and severely punished. Family and societal bonds were broken, through separation by long distances and time, often many years. Intergenerational trauma equal to the cultural devastation inflicted on boarding school survivors, their families and Indian communities is the legacy left by boarding schools. The first steps toward healing and right relationship is telling the truth and acknowledging the harm.

“Jerilyn has a remarkable talent to convey information about intentional acts that caused great personal damage to her own family and culture. She does so in a way that the descendants of the responsible culture can hear, understand and want to repair. Rather than creating a sense of guilt, she openly shows the pain and sorrow, and the need to support healing in Native communities today.” — Caroline Himes, Boulder Friends Meeting

To request this presentation, please contact Jerilyn DeCoteau

Native American organizations are asking churches to join in a Truth and Reconciliation process to bring about healing for Native American families that continue to suffer the consequences of the Indian boarding schools. With support from Pendle Hill (the Cadbury scholarship), Friends Historical Library (the Moore Fellowship), the Native American Rights Fund, and other Friendly sources, Paula Palmer researched the role that Quakers played in implementing the federal government’s policy of forced assimilation of Native children. This 1-hour slide presentation is followed by an hour of discussion about what this history means for Friends and Native Americans today.

Many Native people say the land remembers. In this one-hour program, we invite non-Native people to think about the places on this continent that they know and love, and then ask: What does this land remember? Who loved this land before my family came to know it? What happened to them? How am I connected to them through the land? How could this connection grow into relationship?

“Paula Palmer’s talk at my church opened my eyes and heart about how and where my own immigrant ancestors came to this country, and what the land of my hometown meant to the original inhabitants and their living descendants. I was moved to research stories previously unknown to me about what happened there, and learned some difficult truths. I feel motivated to follow Paula’s example to reach out to connect with Native peoples.” – Kathy Partridge, Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

PResentations

We offer this 2-hour workshop in response to calls from Indigenous leaders at the United Nations and the World Council of Churches. Through an experiential exercise, we trace the historic and ongoing impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery, the 15th-century justification for European subjugation of non-Christian peoples. Our goal is to raise our level of knowledge and concern about these impacts, recognize them in ourselves and our institutions, and explore how we can begin to take actions toward right relationship. In the Doctrine of Discovery we find the roots of injustice. In the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we find the seeds of change. How can we nurture these seeds to bring forth the fruits of right relationship among Native and non-Native peoples? 

Download and circulate a flyer

Through this 1-hour program, 6-12 grade students symbolically experience the colonization of North America as the Native peoples and the European colonists experienced it. They hear the voices of Indigenous leaders, and European popes, monarchs, presidents, generals, and historians as the story unfolds. The exercise is followed by a response period, when students share what they learned, how they feel, and what they think about the reality of Native peoples in our society today. Supplementary materials for teachers are provided.

Jerilyn DeCoteau (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) and other Native American workshop facilitators offer this 2-hour program specifically for Native people. It places Native nations at the center of the history of this continent, and opens deep dialogue about the meaning of this history for Native people and all Americans today.

“The Toward Right Relationship workshop is an innovative and impactful step towards healing the wounds of genocide and colonization in our country. To move forward in a healthy way, we must first honestly face these truths.” — Brett Lee Shelton, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative, Native American Rights Fund

This 1-hour documentary film tells the story of a rural community in Washington state that undertook some significant actions toward reconciliation with the area’s Indigenous peoples. Following the film, a facilitated discussion will focus on your community: Who are the Native peoples who have lived and are now living on the land that you call home? How can you learn your region’s real history? What would right relationship with Native peoples look like in your community? What steps can you start taking in that direction?

This hour-long presentation teaches the history of the United States Boarding School Policy and offers an understanding of its devastating effects and what it may take to heal. The assimilationist purpose of the schools, to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” was very literally implemented, as demonstrated by historical statements and documents, photographs and the testimony of boarding school survivors. In these schools, all evidence of Indian culture, long hair, clothing, names, was destroyed and replaced, and any hint of cultural practice, language, ceremony, and social interaction, was forbidden and severely punished. Family and societal bonds were broken, through separation by long distances and time, often many years. Intergenerational trauma equal to the cultural devastation inflicted on boarding school survivors, their families and Indian communities is the legacy left by boarding schools. The first steps toward healing and right relationship is telling the truth and acknowledging the harm.

“Jerilyn has a remarkable talent to convey information about intentional acts that caused great personal damage to her own family and culture. She does so in a way that the descendants of the responsible culture can hear, understand and want to repair. Rather than creating a sense of guilt, she openly shows the pain and sorrow, and the need to support healing in Native communities today.” — Caroline Himes, Boulder Friends Meeting

To request this presentation, please contact Jerilyn DeCoteau

Native American organizations are asking churches to join in a Truth and Reconciliation process to bring about healing for Native American families that continue to suffer the consequences of the Indian boarding schools. With support from Pendle Hill (the Cadbury scholarship), Friends Historical Library (the Moore Fellowship), the Native American Rights Fund, and other Friendly sources, Paula Palmer researched the role that Quakers played in implementing the federal government’s policy of forced assimilation of Native children. This 1-hour slide presentation is followed by an hour of discussion about what this history means for Friends and Native Americans today.

Many Native people say the land remembers. In this one-hour program, we invite non-Native people to think about the places on this continent that they know and love, and then ask: What does this land remember? Who loved this land before my family came to know it? What happened to them? How am I connected to them through the land? How could this connection grow into relationship?

“Paula Palmer’s talk at my church opened my eyes and heart about how and where my own immigrant ancestors came to this country, and what the land of my hometown meant to the original inhabitants and their living descendants. I was moved to research stories previously unknown to me about what happened there, and learned some difficult truths. I feel motivated to follow Paula’s example to reach out to connect with Native peoples.” – Kathy Partridge, Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Upcoming Presentations:

“Roots of Injustice Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship With Native People”

10/5/2019  Ripon WI at UCC Churches
10/12/2019  Lincoln, NE
10/14/2019 Precious Blood Renewal Center, Liberty MO
10/26/2019 Boulder CO Community UCC Church
11/07/2019 Spring Institute, Denver CO
11/07/2019 Abiding Presence ELCA Lutheran Church, Rochester Hills, MI
11/08/2019 SE Nebraska Native American Coalition, Lincoln
11/11/2019  Friends Center, Philadelphia
11/09/2019  Haverford College
11/10/2019 Mill Creek Meeting, Newark DE
11/10/2019  Purcellville VA Friends Meeting
11/14/2019 Boulder CO, Boulder Healing Hub

“Re-Discovering America: Understanding Colonization”

11/3/2019 Tribal Youth, Dover DE

“Two Rivers” Film and Discussion 

11/7/2019    University of Delaware
11/21/2019 Moishe House, Boulder CO

“The Land Remembers”  

10/3/2019 Moishe House Boulder CO
11/1/2019 Haverford College – Friends and Family Wk

“The Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing our History and Ourselves”  

11/2/2019  Wilmington DE Historical Society
11/6/2019  Swarthmore College
11/8/2019  Haverford College Special Collections

“The Indian Boarding Schools and Multigenerational Trauma” 

11/14/2019  University Library Association, U of Denver

INDIAN BOARDING SCHOOLS

THE HARM AND THE NEED FOR HEALING

More Information, Resources and Recommended Actions

COACHING COMMUNITIES

The Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples program encourages and coaches communities to form citizen groups to work together toward right relationship. The first such group to grow out of TRR’s work is Right Relationship Boulder, in Boulder, Colorado.
Learn More

Resources

Download the Resource Kit here

Contents

  • Doables: Some suggestions for actions you can take
  • The Ally Bill of Responsibilities: How to be an ally to Indigenous Peoples
  • Taking Steps toward Healing, by Walter Echo-Hawk
  • Guswenta, the Two-Row Wampum Belt: A Model for Right Relationship
  • Resources on the Doctrine of Discovery
  • Resources on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Download Recommended Books and Films 

General

    • An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
    • The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer
    • Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong, by Paul Chatt Smith
    • Conquest, by Andrea Smith
    • Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the Legal History of Racism in America, by Robert A. Williams, Jr.
    • Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination, by Shari M. Huhndorf
    • Playing Indian, by Phillip J. Deloria
    • Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
    • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles Mann
    • Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing, MariJo Moore, ed.
    • Custer Died for Your Sins (and all his other books), by Vine Deloria, Jr.
    • In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by Walter Echo-Hawk.

The Doctrine of Discovery

    • Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, by Steven T. Newcomb.
    • Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies, by Robert Miller
    • (film) The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code
    • Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery

The Indian Boarding Schools

    • Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada, by Paulette Regan
    • Kill the Indian, Save the Man, the Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools, by Ward Churchill
    • Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Board School Experience 1875-1928, by David Wallace Adams
    • Boarding School Seasons, by Brenda J. Child
    • Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors
    • (Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples), by Denise K. Lajimodiere

Films

Download Doables: Actions You Can Take in Your Community

Doables: Actions You Can Take in Your Community

These are some actions that can be important steps on the path toward building relationships based on truth, respect, and justice. Please add your own ideas, and then do at least one of these actions soon.

Learn more…

  • Invite Native American speakers to give talks at your church, library, or civic organization.
  • Learn the history of your own region and its Native Peoples, past and present.
  • Click here and study an interactive map that shows how the United States government “acquired” Native lands by treaties and by breach of treaties. Search by geographic region or by Native tribe.
  • Research your family’s settler story: Where did they immigrate from? Where did they settle? Which Native peoples lived in that area, and what happened to them? Where are they now?
  • Click here and find out whose land you live on.
  • Ask Native Americans in your region what issues are currently of greatest concern to them. Ask them if there are ways you can be helpful as an ally.
  • Study Dr. Lynn Gehl’s “The Allies’ Bill of Responsibilities”
  • Visit your local history museum. Encourage the staff to develop exhibits about the Native peoples of the area – past and present – with the participation of Native American scholars and community members
  • Read Native American newspapers and magazines. See a list here.
  • Ask your public library to acquire more publications and films by Native Americans.
  • Attend lectures by Native American speakers.
  • Form a study group to learn about the Doctrine of Discovery, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and current Native American issues.
  • Study resources on De-Colonization.
  • Visit the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
  • Visit tribal museums and cultural centers.
  •  Look at the Native-language place names in your part of the country – names of towns, rivers, mountains, and other landmarks that derived from words in Indigenous languages. Consider the significance of these names in the past, present, and future of your community.
  • Attend the annual White Privilege Conference and study the resources at their excellent website: whiteprivilegeconference.com
  • Read books and watch films by Native American authors and film makers. Here are some suggestions:
  • In your book group, read and discuss the books listed above, and also:
    • Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery
    • Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, by Steven T. Newcomb.
    • In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America
    • U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by Walter Echo-Hawk
    • Not From Here, by Allan G. Johnson 1491, by Charles Mann

In the schools, you can… 

Read your school district’s curriculum on Native American history. Does it accurately portray Native societies before the European invasion, the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery, colonization, genocide, ecocide, and Native American societies today?

  • Find out whether/how Native Americans were involved in creating the curriculum. Recommend that a Native American Review Commission be formed (and funded) to revise the curriculum at all grade levels.
  • Suggest that Native Americans be invited to speak in classrooms.
  • Donate good books about Native American history to the school library. Be sure to select books from the list provided by American Indians in Children’s Literature
  • Ask school board candidates how they will advocate for Native American participation in curriculum development. Make this a campaign issue.
  • Support Native American candidates for school board and other civic offices.
  • Offer to help a teacher present the 2-hour exercise, “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples,” in a high school or college classroom.
  • Offer to help a teacher present the 1-hour exercise, “Re-Discovering America: Understanding Colonization,” in a middle school or high school classroom.
  • Suggest or purchase Tribal Nations Maps by Aaron Carapella

In the political realm, you can…

  • Ask your representatives what they are doing to implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Learn about legislation that supports Native American rights. For example, see Friends Committee on National Legislation’s “Native American Legislative Update”  and Native American Rights Fund
  • Sign up to receive email alerts from Friends Committee on National Legislation and take action when you receive them.
  • Urge your city or state to change the name of the October holiday from “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
  • Urge your state legislature to ban the use of Native American mascots and logos. See how Maine did it here.
  • Download and print free posters. These posters by Native American artists say “You are on ______ land.” Fill in the blank with the Native people of your area, and post these posters around your community.

In your faith community, you can…

  • Read the World Council of Churches’ 2012 Statement on the Doctrine of Discovery, and additional statements by various faith communities.
  • Invite Native Americans to address the congregation.
  • Acknowledge the Native peoples on whose land you live and worship (see https://quakerservice.ca/wp- content/uploads/2019/07/Land-Acknowledgment-Resource.pdf).
  • Educate your congregation about the Doctrine of Discovery and its impact over the centuries, including today.
  • Present the workshop, “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples.” Contact Paula Palmer
  • Ask your faith community to draft and approve a statement repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and supporting implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. See examples of such statements in the Resource Kit.
  • Work with your Religious Education committee to create meaningful age-appropriate activities for young people in your congregation.
  • Research the role your denomination played during the era of the Indian boarding schools, and contribute your research toward a truth, reconciliation, and healing process in collaboration with the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
  • View a video, “The Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing our History and Ourselves”
  • Watch and discuss these films about the multigenerational trauma still experienced in Native communities as a result of the Indian boarding schools and Child Welfare policies:

Support Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations

  • Find out about Native American organizations in your own community. How can you support them?
  • Visit websites of national and international Indigenous Peoples’ organizations. Find out what they do, and support their programs financially and as an advocate. Start with these, and add others:
    • National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
      • The Mission of NABS is to work to ensure a meaningful and appropriate response from responsible agencies for those Native American individuals, families, and communities victimized by the United States’ federal policy of forced boarding school attendance and to secure redress from responsible institutions in order to support lasting and true community- directed healing.
    • Native American Rights Fund
      • Founded in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide
    • Seventh Generation Fund
      • Seventh Generation Fund promotes and maintains the uniqueness and sovereignty of our distinct Native Nations by offering advocacy, small grants, trainings and technical assistance to Indigenous communities.
    •  Indigenous Environmental Network
      • IEN is an alliance of grassroots Indigenous Peoples whose mission is to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from contamination and exploitation by strengthening, respecting, and maintaining traditional teachings and natural laws.
    •  Indigenous Law Institute
      • The Indigenous Law Institute assists American Indian and other Indigenous communities to work toward a future of restoration and healing. They do this by working to develop a radically new basis for thinking about Native rights, from a Traditional Native Law perspective, and by contending that Native nations and peoples have an inherent right to live free of all forms of empire and domination.
    • Native Harvest
      • Native Harvest works to continue, revive, and protect our native seeds, heritage crops, naturally grown fruits, animals, wild plants, traditions and knowledge of our Indigenous and land-based communities, for the purpose of maintaining and continuing Native culture and resisting the global, industrialized food system.
    • American Indian College Fund
      • The American Indian College Fund transforms Indian higher education by Funding and creating awareness of the unique, community-based accredited tribal colleges and universities, offering students access to knowledge, skills, and cultural values which enhance their communities and the country as a whole.

Download Land Reparations by John Stoesz

Land Reparations are ways that non-Native people can acknowledge that they benefit from land stolen from Native peoples and compensate them, at least symbolically.

Listen to: Reconciliation Rising

History

John Stoesz and Paula Palmer

The Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples program grew out of the work of the Indigenous Peoples Concerns Committee at the Boulder, Colorado Meeting. As part of her work with Global Response, committee member Paula attended meetings of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. There, in 2012, she heard Indigenous leaders from around the world call on faith communities to face up to Christianity’s crimes against Indigenous peoples and repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. She brought this concern to the Indigenous Peoples Concerns committee and invited a professor of Native American Studies, Dr. Doreen Martinez (Mescalero Apache) to help start a study group…

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