DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE — August 2019
Native American Intercultural Congregational Support Ministry continues work with historic constituency
This month’s edition of the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries focuses on Native American Intercultural Congregational Support. Irvin Porter is the associate for this ministry in Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. Following are some of his reflections.
Rhashell D. Hunter
Native American Infrastructure Inventories continue PC(USA) work with historic constituency
By: Rev. Irvin Porter, Associate
Native American Intercultural Congregational Support
Though Indigenous tribes inhabited this continent for millennia, a clash of cultures soon began to change their world forever. After welcoming and assisting settlers, Indigenous people were considered obstacles to “Manifest Destiny”, the theory that the United States was destined to dominate North America, and its civilization would restore and remake the continent in the image of white America. A Doctrine of Discovery continues the right of conquest issued by Popes and European Monarchs. .
The U.S. Supreme Court (1823) in Johnson v. McIntosh, interpreted Discovery “. . . to mean that when European, Christian nations ‘discovered’ lands unknown to Europeans, they automatically gained sovereign and property rights in the lands. . . even though Indigenous people had occupied and used the lands for millennia. This real-property right was subject only to the continuing use and occupancy rights of the Indigenous peoples.”
The ”Blanket Exercise” is an interactive learning experience that explains the Indigenous rights history rarely taught in our schools. It explores how bias and racial prejudice developed against Indigenous people and how racism became part of institutions and systems.
The 223rd General Assembly (2018) has directed the Presbyterian Mission Agency “. . . to provide an assembly-wide inventory documenting the physical needs of Native American churches and chapels and creating an ongoing fund for urgent and immediate repairs and improvements.” The inventories will be completed this year and a report sent to the 224th General Assembly in 2020. The Apology to Native Americans for boarding schools and Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery are evidence of the PC(USA)’s ongoing work with this historic constituency.