Saturday, February 8, 2020

the Dawes Act & Indigenous

I am fairly certain that I did not grow up using the word indigenous.

I am certain that I don't use the word indigenous very often now.

But I am starting to ...

From my less than 5 minute Google search:

And this:



I am still at some sort of loss.  Of course I understand what the word means - I think I could effectively use it in a sentence but how does this impact me - why has this word caught my attention - why do I write about it today?

For several years I have been following a group of people.  This group of people are talking about God - Jesus - life in ways that speak to my heart.  I am not sure if there is ever a place for condemnation in the conversations about faith - but if there is - now is not that time for me.  I have mentioned before that I am in a deconstruction - reconstruction phase.

It can be a bit dangerous - just like any construction site - but to continue that metaphor something beautiful can rise up on the other side.

I should have been keeping a running list of how I stumbled onto most of these people.  While I cannot remember the exact order - I do remember that most all of the ones that I follow have written a book.

This week a former student of mine asked a question:

I feel quite sure you know how I answered his question.  And without debating the subject here - I think the best answer is what is the purpose of your reading?  We know that reading printed paper has amazing benefits - important  - etc....  But if the only way you are going to read that printed paper is to hear too - then for heaven's sake - Listen to a Book!!!

And that is what I do.  I listen while I drive and if the book I am listening to has thoughts that I want to forever remember - then I am going to buy the paper copy and start highlighting.  And that is exactly what has happen with indigenous.

But it also has another direct tie.  An ancestral tie that I did not even know about a year ago.  Remember my ancestors are from Tennessee and one of the first things I found - one of the things Judith (my mother) talked about was the Trail of Tears.

So indigenous people have been part of my unknown life always - now it is a life I know.

Let's see if I can get to the point of this post .....

What am I willing to do?

The devotional this morning from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals prompted the post.  Today - February 8th marks the anniversary of the Dawes Act.  I failed to learn so much in the grade school & college history courses - I am constantly in re-learn mode.

The Google search for the Dawes Act is heartbreaking and almost confusing.   Part of the search phrases refer to the Dawes Act failing.  And I was finding myself being thankful that this legislation failed - sometimes I don't even process these crazy emotions ....  It failed because the US government did not succeed in assimilation of the indigenous people.  Ugh.

Good grief.  I was picturing a world where it failed and left the native people to their land - and things like the Trail of Tears would not have happened.

I don't want to get into a debate about those times and for me - white woman in 2020 can hear the long debate on the pros and cons.  But - I want to learn - I want to read - I want to listen (to the group I haven't listened to before).

Listen. Learn. Share.

I do think I grew up in a bubble.  I believe part of that was because I did not read while growing up.  I did not read well as a child and therefore I never wanted to read.  I am sure I used the phrase "I hate to read".  When I was expecting Son One - I had no choice.  With bedrest for 3 weeks - reading became interesting - I have never stopped.

Our Wednesday night ladies bible study class is reading and discussing a book:


The one on top - Glory Happening by Kaitlin B. Curtice.  I cannot recommend the book enough.  And the chapters are short and one can easily read one chapter a day as a devotional of sorts - or as my friend Andra did - read the entire book in one setting!   So much good in this book - such a learning platform for me.  

The author is also featured in another book:


This time it is the 2nd book - under the Common Prayer.  It is Daneen Akers' new book Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints.  One of the best books for finding a group of people all in one place to broaden the mind and speak to the heart.  You need a copy.

Now what ....

I am not sure.  I just know that I learn when I listen to people who love God and have a different life viewpoint than me.  I know that I grow as a person - that my capacity to love increases.  My awareness has a stronger alert feature -

Of course I went searching for Kaitlin on the social media platforms.  I found a post that broke my heart - Back in October she shared that the teacher at her kids school taught them the tomahawk chop and were all performing it together.

I have done that.  And it never occurred to me what it might even signify.  And here is the place that I simply do not want to go - as a white woman in Texas in 2020 - I cannot even argue with my native American friends - quite simply My opinion does not matter.

I think we have to be very careful about assuming what "we" mean when we do things - that may be all well and good but once we realize that it can be offensive - then we are in a place of deciding...

Do I continue down my path of not caring - or do I decide that I will Listen and Learn?

I don't need the tomahawk chop in my life - it plays no role whatsoever.  And if I am choosing to do that action at a football game - and it sends a message of ignorance - I surely do not want to be a part.

Kaitlin shared:

Remember, truth-telling isn't really fun.
It's hard as hell.
It produces anxiety.
It sits harder on these who are constantly dominated by lies.
But, opt-in.
It's your human duty.
And it's mine, too.
I think I need a section on this blog that shares books I have read and why reading them is a good thing.  Maybe my friend (former student) Jason - could get some good ideas along the way!

Thank you Kaitlin - for truth-telling - Thank you Daneen for writing an amazing book.  Thank you Shane Claiborne & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove for Common Prayer that brings the events of our lives into a devotional space with God.


Helpful links:

Trail of Tears

Kaitlin's Website

Chaffee Management - a site for finding lots of great people!

Short Overview of the Dawes Act


Always, May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14.