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Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery:

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1 Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery:
Why Is It Important for the Church Today?


3 Columbus / Colón – October 12, 1492
In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

4 Day after day they looked for land; They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand. October 12 their dream came true, You never saw a happier crew!

5 The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

6 The first American? No, not quite.
Columbus sailed on to find some gold To bring back home, as he'd been told. He made the trip again and again, Trading gold to bring to Spain. The first American? No, not quite. But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

7 Or… On October 12, 1492 after two months at sea Columbus and his crew finally spotted land. Upon reaching the land, Columbus fell to his knees, thanked God for a safe voyage and planted a flag in the ground, claiming the land for Spain - as the Tainos who had lived there for 1,000 years watched from behind trees and bushes. The Taino had never before seen white men, clothed people, people with beards or ships like that - they thought these people must be from heaven. So the Taino came out to greet them, as was their custom, and brought the travelers - who surely must have been tired and hungry - food, drink and gifts. Such strong swimmers were the Taino that some of them swam right out to the boats some three miles offshore. That very first night Columbus wrote in his journal that these islands were very heavily populated by a handsome, strong, well-built and peaceful people who had only simple weapons and that with as few as 50 of his men and their weapons he could take over. Much is said about Columbus' desire to convert the "savages" to Christianity, but very little is said about his quest for gold, although Columbus mentions gold in his journal 70 times in his first two weeks in the islands. The very first day, Columbus "took" several Native boys aboard his ship to show him where the gold was. “The Taino Indians: Native Americans of the Caribbean.”

8 From Columbus’ Journal
“They took all, and gave what they had with good will They neither carry nor know anything of arms They are all of fair stature and size, with good faces, and well made They should be good servants.   The people are very docile . . . with fifty men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.” Many Native Americans were killed in bloody massacres, yet the majority died from diseases introduced by European settlers and from forced labor. Colonialists enslaved Native Americans and forced them to work in deadly conditions on large plantations and in mines, where they extracted minerals like gold, silver and copper, enriching the European empires that profited from mass extermination in the newly developing capitalist economic system.  As large numbers of Native Americans died, European colonialists sent enslaved Africans across the ocean to replace their labor. “What Columbus Day really celebrates: The “most massive act of genocide in world history.” Ben Norton, Salon, October 10, celebrates-the-most-massive-act-of-genocide-in-world-history/

9 Doctrine of Discovery A philosophical and legal framework first dating from the 15th century by which governments of nominally Christian nations sought to legitimize the invasion and domination of Indigenous People and seizure of their lands, codified through Papal Bulls, royal charters, and even U.S. Supreme Court cases.

10 Papal Bull “Romanus Pontifex” – 1455
Pope Nicholas V gave Portuguese King Alfonso authority to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue” indigenous people in “discovered” lands.

11 Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” – May 4, 1493
By Pope Alexander VI This document, the title of which translates approximately to “Among Other [Works]” supported Spain’s strategy to ensure its exclusive “right” to the lands “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in the previous year. Stated that any land not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered,” claimed, and exploited by Christian rulers. Declared that “the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.” This “Doctrine of Discovery” became the basis for European claims on land in the Americas and the rationale behind westward expansion in the U.S.

12 “Wherefore, as becomes Catholic kings and princes, after earnest consideration of all matters, especially of the rise and spread of the Catholic faith, as was the fashion of your ancestors, kings of renowned memory, you have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith. Hence, heartily commending in the Lord this your holy and praiseworthy purpose, and desirous that it be duly accomplished, and that the name of our Savior be carried into those regions, we exhort you very earnestly in the Lord and by your reception of holy baptism, whereby you are bound to our apostolic commands, and by the bowels of the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, enjoy strictly, that inasmuch as with eager zeal for the true faith you design to equip and despatch this expedition, you purpose also, as is your duty, to lead the peoples dwelling in those islands and countries to embrace the Christian religion; nor at any time let dangers or hardships deter you therefrom, with the stout hope and trust in your hearts that Almighty God will further your undertakings.”

13 Papal Bull “Sublimus Dei” – 1537
By Pope Paul III Thought to be the first Roman Catholic Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery Controversial because it is not clear whether the Bull ever made its way outside the Vatican.

14 Scriptural Basis for Theologies of Entitlement

15 Matthew 28: 18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

16 Romans 13: 1-2 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

17 Story of Israel in Genesis and Exodus
A people chosen by God and thus justified in taking possession of land that was promised to them.

18 Terra Nullius – “Nobody’s Land”
Concept that likely originated in the 17th century that says “discovered” lands were not owned by anyone if the indigenous people, who were often labeled “heathens, pagans, and infidels,” were not ruled by a “Christian prince.” A “Christian” nation could claim sovereignty over such lands by occupation.

19 Pittsburgh Region – French and Indian War
18th Century, Part of a larger imperial struggle between Great Britain and France for sovereignty over lands in “the west” of what would become the United States. The upper Ohio River Valley became highly disputed territory, and a key strategic location in controlling the game was a little triangle of land at the confluence of Three Rivers, where Fort Duquesne, and then Fort Pitt, were established.

20 Many histories say little about the original inhabitants of the land – the rich stories of the Forts and Battles and Generals Washington and Braddock and the Forbes Road have overshadowed the stories of and the history of those who first lived here. Some of those Native people included the Iroquois Confederacy, which sided with the British, and the many other tribes that sided with the French, including Delaware, Shawnee, Ottawa, Mississauga, Wyandot, and Potawatomi. At the point of the war, many Native Americans had already been “domesticated” and converted to Catholicism through French missionaries.

21 U.S. Supreme Court Case: Johnson vs. M’intosh - 1823
An early landmark supreme court case that reified Discovery in american civil law was the 1823 case, Johnson v. M’Intosh, with the chief justice, John Marshall writing the unanimous opinion of the court. Even though the principle had been invoked in american and colonial courts from the beginning of the invasive christian settlement, it was Marshall who created the actual language of Doctrine of Discovery. It is important here for our context to remember that Marshall, like most american folk of his day, was a protestant, even as he summons roman catholic canon law to solidify his own arguments. To this day Marshall’s majority decision in Johnson v. M’Intosh forms the legal foundation for all property ownership in the US.

22 The case decided ownership between two american claimants to a large parcel of property in Piankeshaw territory (modern southern Indiana); but the overriding question had to do with the legitimacy of the purchase. How could these “settlers” own Indian land? Who had the right to buy the land from the Piankeshaw? Ultimately, the court found that the Johnson partnership did not have legal title to the land. Johnson had purchased the land directly from the Piankeshaw just prior to the american revolutionary war. By buying directly from the Indians he had circumvented the colonial government of that day (the english) who had, according to law, the ultimate dominion based on the Doctrine of Discovery.

23 Through its victory in the revolutionary war, the U. S
Through its victory in the revolutionary war, the U.S., according to the chief justice writing on behalf of a unanimous court decision, took over England’s “right of Discovery” to Indian land, which confers on the U.S. “ultimate dominion” of the continent [Johnson, 574]. Thus, M’Intosh, who purchased the land under a U.S. government grant, possessed the legitimate title, even though Johnson could claim earlier purchase. As Marshall argues: “This principle was, that discovery gave title to the government by whose subjects, or by whose authority, it was made, against all other European governments…” [Johnson, 573]; and again, “… discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title of occupancy, either by purchase or by conquest…” [587]. 

24 who possessed the right of Discovery.
In other words, the Piankeshaw might have been a sovereign Native People, but they had no right under law to sell their land to anyone they pleased; rather, they could only sell to the appropriate christian european nation who possessed the right of Discovery. The Indians had no right to sell to a private party; nor did Johnson have any legal standing to make the purchase. A free-market system this was not. 

25 There is still one more important factor in the Johnson v
There is still one more important factor in the Johnson v. M’Intosh decision that helps us to understand how such an inequitable system could possibly be rationalized, particularly in christian minds. Namely, Marshall is careful to justify his Doctrine of Discovery on the basis of the christian identity of the colonizer. In the court’s opinion it is Christianity, as Lenape scholar Steve Newcomb is quick to point out, that sets european nations apart as a superior race with a superior culture and justifies their conquest of Indian peoples and the theft of Indian land. To emphasize the reality of Marshall’s text, Newcomb powerfully insists that it be called the Doctrine of christian Discovery. In Johnson v. M’Intosh, Marshall based his unanimous decision on his and the court’s bedrock identification of the United States as a christian nation. Indeed, it was christianity by Marshall’s interpretation that marked european folk as a superior race entitled to take Indian land.

26 The right of discovery given by this commission,
To wit: The right of discovery given by this commission, is confined to countries 'then unknown to all Christian people’… notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and, at the same time, admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery. [Marshall, Johnson, ] Tink Tinker, of the wazhazhe / Osage Nation, is Clifford Baldridge Professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at the Iliff School of Theology.

27 The United States of America and “Manifest Destiny”

28 What Have Been the Results of the Doctrine of Discovery?

29 Enslavement Because the Doctrine did not consider Indigenous Peoples to be human if they weren’t Christian, conquering nations were allowed to make slaves of the people they encountered. For example the Papal Bull Dum Diversas says that Christian sovereigns are empowered by the Church to “invade, capture, vanquish and subdue… all Saracens (Muslims) and Pagans and all enemies of Christ… to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery… and to take away all of their possessions and property.”

30 Extraction In many places around the world, the Doctrine of Discovery has legitimated mining, fracking, logging, water theft, plantation agriculture, and other extractive industries that take resources from Indigenous communities to benefit the wealth of those descended from Europeans and colonial or post-colonial nations.

31 Extinction Before Europeans came to North America, there were as many as 18 million Indigenous Peoples living on the continent. By the end of the 19th century, they numbered fewer than 250,000. Millions of people died because they did not have natural immunity to European diseases, nor could they resist the technologies of war the Europeans used to overpower and decimate native populations. So when European settlers arrived on the scene the country often appeared to be nearly empty or devoid of significant human activity.

32 Pittsburgh Region – Kinzua Dam – 1960s
In the mid part of the twentieth century the Senecas lived on over ten thousand acres in what is now the Allegany Territory. But that changed drastically in That's when the Federal Government and The Army Corps Of Engineers began construction of the Kinzua Dam, which was built on the Alleghany River to help alleviate flooding downstream. To do this, over six hundred people were forced from their homes in the name of " progress". The Seneca Nation saw it otherwise. They believed it broke the Treaty of Canadaigua, signed in by President George Washington. The treaty granted the land to the Senecas in perpetuity.

33 Canandaigua Treaty – 1794 The 1794 Canandaigua Treaty, signed by President George Washington, reads: “the United States acknowledges all the land within the aforementioned boundaries, to be the property of the Seneca Nation; and the United States will never claim the same, nor disturb the Seneca Nation, nor any of the Six Nations, or of their Indian friends residing thereon, and united with them, in the free use and enjoyment thereof; but it shall remain theirs, until they choose to sell the same.”

34 Eminent Domain Seneca homes and forests were burned and then flooded to clear the land. “The overall trauma of forced relocation, the desecration of our grandparent’s graves, the burning of our homes, our longhouses and churches, the loss of our gardens—a lot of people had gardens that were multi- generational—the loss was so traumatic,” said Dennis Bowen, Seneca, former president of the Allegheny Seneca Nation in New York State.

35 The Seneca families were forced from their homes into new homes provided by the government. They were compelled to assimilate to modern American society. For people who were living off the grid, hunting and gathering, living a peaceful and fulfilling life, being torn from their lives was beyond traumatic. ON YOUR SIDE. “The Tragedy of the Kinzua Dam.” Terry Belke, NBC-WGRZ. June 3,

36 There are no federally-recognized nor state- recognized Native American nations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

37 Why Repudiate and Repent?

38 Theological Considerations
Matthew 25: 34-40 John 10: 10 Acts 10: 28, 34 Augsburg Confession XII: 1-6; VII Baptismal Promises To Serve All People, Following the Example of Jesus Strive for Justice and Peace in All the Earth

39 The Witness of Native American and Indigenous Peoples

40 “The church’s current resolve to repudiate could indeed be the catapult that flings us into a future of real solidarity with indigenous peoples … However, the reality today is that, in many cases, Native peoples still face unimaginable existences.  Although some tribes are seeing economic development that is unprecedented in Indian Country, many are still enduring extreme poverty and its effects. We are still suffering from the traumas experienced by generations of our ancestors.  Such generational and historical traumas have been inflicted upon us through the systems and policies of the federal government, state governments, and churches that worked persistently to eliminate our cultures and our lives.  This trauma is witnessed in the diseases we live with and die from, the elimination of our languages, the deletion of our traditions and cultures, the dismissal of our lifeways, the high levels of addiction, the large number of suicides, the disappearances of our women, our imprisonment on reservations, or our isolation due to a forced and lonely diaspora.” Journal of Lutheran Ethics. “A Reflection on the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly’s Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.” Vance Blackfox. March 1, 2017.

41 Roman Catholic Movements to Rescind the Doctrine – 1990s-2000s
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Roman Catholics petitioned Pope John Paul II to revoke this papal bull and to recognize the human rights of all indigenous “non-Christian peoples.” Gilder Lehrman Institute of America History, rivalries/resources/doctrine-discovery-1493 In 1992 in Santo Domingo, on the 500th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing there, Pope John Paul II confessed and begged forgiveness for the sins of the Church in the Spanish conquest of America. He repeated a similar confession March 12, 2000 when, kneeling at the Holy Doors of the Great Jubilee, he begged forgiveness for Catholics who had violated “the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and [for showing] contempt for their cultures and religious traditions.” The Catholic Register. “Doctrine of discovery first repudiated in 1537.” Michael Swan. October 2, in-1537

42 Roman Catholic Movement to Repudiate the Doctrine – 2010s
A 30-year effort to get the Pope to take back the words of two 15th century popes got another boost this summer when Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing about 80 per cent of American sisters, passed a resolution calling on Pope Francis to repudiate the doctrine of discovery. “We humbly and respectfully ask Pope Francis to lead us in formally repudiating the period of Christian history that used religion to justify political and personal violence again6st indigenous nations and peoples and their cultural, religious, and territorial identities,” reads a resolution passed in August at the urging of American Loreto Sisters. Catholic Register. “Doctrine of discovery first repudiated in 1537.” Michael Swan. October 2,

43 Full Communion Partners Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Episcopal Church, U.S.A. United Church of Christ United Methodist Church Moravian Church

44 ELCA Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
2016 Churchwide Assembly ASSEMBLY ACTION CA YES-912; NO-28 Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery To receive with gratitude memorials from the Alaska, Northwest Washington, Montana, Southwest California, Rocky Mountain, Eastern North Dakota, South Dakota, Minneapolis Area, Saint Paul Area, Arkansas-Oklahoma, Northwest Wisconsin, East-Central Wisconsin, Indiana-Kentucky, Upstate New York, Northwestern Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Washington, D.C., North Carolina and Southeastern synods regarding the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery; To repudiate explicitly and clearly the European-derived doctrine of discovery as an example of the “improper mixing of the power of the church and the power of the sword” (Augsburg Confession Article XXVIII, Latin text), and to acknowledge and repent from this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas, which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members; To offer a statement of repentance and reconciliation to native nations in this country for damage done in the name of Christianity; To encourage the Office of the Presiding Bishop to plan an appropriate national ceremony of repentance and reconciliation with tribal leaders, providing appropriate worship resources for similar synodical and congregational observances with local tribal leaders, at such times and places as are appropriate; To direct the Domestic Mission unit, together with the American Indian and Alaska Native community and ecumenical partners, to develop resources to educate members of the ELCA and the wider community about the doctrine of discovery and its consequences for native peoples; To direct the Domestic Mission unit to develop a strategy with the American Indian and Alaska Native community during the next triennium to be referred to the Church Council for action, including a mechanism to grow the Native American Ministry Fund of the ELCA; and To affirm that this church will eliminate the doctrine of discovery from its contemporary rhetoric and programs, electing to practice accompaniment with native peoples instead of a missionary endeavor to them, allowing these partnerships to mutually enrich indigenous communities and the ministries of the ELCA.

45 2016 Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly

46 A Memorial Urging the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
Whereas, we confess with our Native sisters and brothers that the whole of Creation is God’s work, that God declares it all as good, and that God’s Spirit dwells within it, and Whereas we confess that Jesus Christ became incarnate in human form to show God’s love and mercy to all humanity, in all its variety, and to every race and people on every continent of the earth, and Whereas, we acknowledge with pain and regret the damage done to the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas by the European conquest and migration to what Europeans called a “new world,” but which was in reality already the homeland of many peoples, and Whereas, we recognize that Christian churches were and remain complicit in that conquest, migration, and dispossession, and that Christian churches helped develop conceptions of Native peoples that blamed them for their own ills and that continue to perpetuate prejudice and injustice against them and their descendants, and Whereas, we deplore and reject the so-called “doctrine of discovery”: the legal principle, originating with Pope Alexander VI in 1493 and further entrenched in U.S. federal law in Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), that Native inhabitants have no property or any other rights which colonizing European nations and their sovereigns are bound to respect. This principle promotes the myth that the Americas were a largely empty land that European conquerors and migrants had a right to claim, occupy, and possess simply by virtue of their Christianity and their European civilization, and Whereas, a number of churches with whom the ELCA is in full communion – the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church USA, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Moravian Church – have already repudiated this doctrine and repented of it; therefore be it

47 Resolved, that the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod explicitly and clearly repudiates the European Christian-derived “doctrine of discovery” and its continuing impact upon tribal governments and individual tribal members to this day, acknowledges the unearned benefits this church has received from the evils of colonialism in the Americas, repents of this church’s complicity in this doctrine, and memorializes the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to join with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Episcopal Church, The United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church and The Moravian Church in doing the same, and be it further Resolved that the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod memorializes the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to join it in offering herewith a statement of repentance and reconciliation to Native nations in this country for damage done in the name of Christianity and “civilization,” requesting the Office of the Presiding Bishop to plan an appropriate ELCA national ceremony of repentance and reconciliation with tribal leaders, and provide resources for similar synodical and congregational observances with local tribal leaders, at all such times and places as are appropriate, and be it further Resolved that the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod memorializes the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to request that the ELCA, with the help of Native communities, commit itself to the development of resources in the next triennium, to help its congregations and people understand and reduce the negative impact of the “doctrine of discovery” and its consequences for Native people in North America, and be it finally Resolved, that the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod memorializes the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to request that the ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit bring forward to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly a renewed strategy for ministry with Native people in the ELCA and accompaniment with North American Native communities generally, with a particular commitment to long-term, stable funding of ELCA American Indian and Alaska Native ministries, increasing partnerships with congregations and synods in the ELCA, and promoting efforts with the Native communities within which our congregations and synods reside.

TO THE SYNOD ASSEMBLY Memorial to Advocate for the Well-being of Native People in North America. Whereas, we have received from Jesus Christ the Great Commission (And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Great Commandment (Jesus answered, “The first [commandment] is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 22:29-31; see also Matthew 22:34-40), and Whereas, the Augsburg Confession repudiates improperly mixing the power of the Church and the power of the sword, saying, “In former times, there were serious controversies about the power of bishops, in which some people improperly mixed the power of the church and the power of the sword. Tremendous wars and rebellions resulted from this confusion Devout and learned people have long since condemned these vices in the church . . .” (Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, 1-4)1, and Whereas, our country has an established legal precedent based on the Doctrine of Discovery (Johnson v. McIntosh , 1823), and Whereas, the Doctrine of Discovery continues negatively to impact tribal governments and individual tribal members to this day, therefore be it Resolved, that the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, meeting in assembly, memorialize the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to request that the ELCA, with the help of Native communities, commit itself to the development of resources in the next triennium to help its congregations and people understand the negative impact of the Doctrine of Discovery and to advocate for the well-being of Native people in North America.

49 What Can We Do? Learn More about the Doctrine of Discovery
Reflect on the history of how things came to be for this country, our region, and for Native American People and Tribes. Recognize that policies and actions intentionally designed to dominate, subdue, and further marginalize Indigenous People have long been codified in law, effectively establishing Christian, “Anglo- Saxon Supremacy” and privilege. Share the story of the Doctrine of Discovery and the harm it has caused for Indigenous People throughout the world.

50 Consider… Where do the gems in our jewelry come from?
How is our energy delivered to us? Through what lands does the oil run? Who is put at risk? How were our places of recreation procured, designated, or made? Who was displaced in the process? Where does the water bottled in the drinks you buy come from? Where do the metals used to produce your computer, iPhone, iPad come from? Do you think about alternatives to driving, car-pooling, using mass transit if it is available?

51 Advocate Inform yourself about current issues affecting Native American communities – e.g. Dakota Access Pipeline and how it affects the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Support the ELCA’s American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries Ministries/American-Indian-and-Alaska-Native?_ga= Advocate – Speak and Write in Support of Native American Rights and those of all Indigenous People Sign up for ELCA Advocacy Alerts and Take Action through the ELCA Action Center

52 Ask Yourself – Who Is My Neighbor? Build Relationships

53 Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center
History and Purpose: The Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center was initially conceived in 1969 when members of two Native American families in Pittsburgh sought to overcome the feeling of "floating" in the mainstream. They felt the need to maintain a sense of Indian-ness, recapture roots and become more conscious of their rights as Native Americans. In February 1972 after several years of planning the Council was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the laws of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Internal Revenue Service regulations. The Council was to operate from offices in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh until July, 1976 when it moved to its present headquarters in Dorseyville, Indiana Township

54 Web Site:
Singing Winds - Administrative Offices  120 Charles Street Pittsburgh, PA 15238 Telephone: (412) Web Site:

55 Council of Three Rivers
Experience and Honor Native American Culture unique to this area by attending the council’s Annual Pow-Wow, a gathering of tribal members who celebrate their traditions by sharing in singing, competition dancing, drumming, arts and crafts, and Native American foods, on September 23 – 24, 2017 Inquire about how you can help support the missions of the organization – Elder Care (45+), including Community Services, Counseling, and Food Bank; Job Training and Placement

56 Facilitate and Encourage Lutheran Efforts
Can we in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod move toward clearly and explicitly repudiating the European Christian-derived Doctrine of Discovery and its continuing impact upon tribal governments and individual tribal members to this day, acknowledging the unearned benefits this church has received from the evils of colonialism in the Americas and repenting of this church’s complicity in this doctrine? Can we in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod join the ELCA by locally offering a statement and service of repentance and reconciliation to Native nations for damage done in the name of Christianity?

57 Vance Blackfox, in Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Will the church, once again, take seriously the need for better relations with and advocacy for Native people through the work laid out before it by the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery?  That would be our hope. Native people continue to work for justice for ourselves, particularly for our elders and the seven generations who will journey here on Mother Earth after us.  Yet we are very aware of the fact that the odds are highly stacked against us.  We recognize that the power systems and structures were built to keep us down, not lift us up.  Still, we are resilient people, strong, and will continue to climb for the sake of those who come after us.  We, the original peoples of Turtle Island, know the pain and hard work that the climb requires.  The repudiation and what it asks of the church is not painful, nor is it hard work in comparison.  So, is the church willing to face the pain and hard work with us?  We pray so. Lord in your mercy.

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