Thursday, November 25, 2004

Genocide in Canada - Lecture #2

Hello Relatives - Liz Levesque reporting from British Columbia...

Eighteen Canadians and one American waited anxiously for the second
lecture on "Genocide in Canada" to begin in the Canadian Auto Workers Union Hall last Monday on 12th St. in New Westminster, BC Canada.

It had been one whole week since lecture #1 and our heads and hearts were full of facts and figures we could only just begin to grapple with. If week one of the lecture series had been any indication of what was to come, then the inevitable bracing of every conscience in the room was sure to follow. And, that is exactly what happened as defrocked United Church clergyman Kevin Annett began to lecture on "Indian time."

First to Speak: Rev. Kevin D. Annett, MA, MDiv.

You could tell that as he began speaking, every conscience in the room began to brace itself for the onslaught of yet another Monday evening filled with details of the worst that the Church and State had perpetrated on the First Nations of Canada.

"People" was the operative word for the evening as Annett opened his part of the lecture with Raphael Lemkin's definition of genocide. According to Lemkin, who wrote the U.N. Charter of Human Rights afterWWII, genocide is a word which comes from "geno" meaning "people"and "cide" meaning "to kill." Genocide is the mass killing or "destruction of an ethnic group-- not necessarily immediate--but a coordinated plan to annihilate [specific] groups.

It has two phases--destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group, and the imposition of the natural pattern of the oppressor by any means necessary but usually through legal means or laws.

"Genocide at its core is the elimination of the memory of a group from the consciousness of the world."
The means of elimination can be violent of non-violent. The group does not have to be eliminated all at once in a massive killing in order for it to be considered genocide. It just has to be an intentional and coordinated plan to wipe them off the face of the earth and the memory of the national or world consciousness so that in people's minds, they no longer exist.

No where in North America has there been such a coordinated effort by both Church and State to expunge from the national awareness a people group than the effort to eliminate through "law" the First Nations of Canada.

The lecture focused on the philosophical and legal roots, means and ways in which Church and State (Parliament) in Canada accomplished this feat. According to Annett, the legal foundation for Canada's genocide toward First Nations had a long tradition dating back toboth Greek/Roman philosophy melded with the rise of the Church/State hybrid under the Emperor Constantine in the early 4th century A.D.

It was between 310 and 340 A.D. when Constantine made Christianity the religion of the empire and the teachings/sayings of Jesus were merely a backdrop to the philosophical/social/moral foundation of the Church which was emerging as a political and military power as the Roman Empire wound down.

By 332 A.D., the Church had become the state and vice versa. Property and political/legal power had been accumulated and the Roman Catholic Church began to replace the Roman Empire. The term "diocese" is a Roman term which means "province or district." The symbol which came to be placed on priestly vestments (Labernum) was worn by Roman soldiers.The fusion of Church and State under Constantine began the system of syncretism in the Church as Greek/Roman philosophy with their sense of "natural divisions in societies" came to be the philosophy of the Church.

It wasn't Darwin who invented natural selection. It was Aristotle writing before Christ in his treatise on slavery. He posited his theory that you are born a master, born a slave, born into a position in society. That is your life. You are born a conqueror, you are born the conquered. Just get used to it. It's the way it is.

Naturally, if you are the conqueror or master, you havemore rights, more privileges, more wealth in society. The converse is true. If you are born a slave or a conquered people, your place at the bottom of the food chain is natural.The Church/State hybrid with the Church beginning to dominate more and more, became the norm as the Church accumulated political and military power. This "arm" of the Church practicing violence throughout Europe and other lands has always dominated. Hence the terms "Christ's army" and "Onward Christian soldiers."

The other "arm" of the Church, the reforming arm, the monastic movements,the mystics and so forth have not been able to ever gain the upper hand in reforming the Church to the point that the violent arm is disarmed.

And so the world was divided into Eastern and Western Hemispheres by the Church. Spain took the West while Portugal took the East. The rest of Europe fought for control wherever they could. The "Inter Catera Bull of 1493" by Pope Alexander VI (blood thirsty Italian family of Borgia) authorized the conquest of non-Christian lands by Christian kings.

"Just War Theory" arose as a consequence of this bull and stated that:
  1. any act done in interest of the Church (rape, murder, etc.)is "absolved."
  2. all other laws are subordinate to the law of God (make Christians).

"Just War" guided the conquest of the world outside of Spain, Italy, Portugal, England and France because their common laws were more moral than other laws due to their Christian nation status.

Outside Europe, where the "heathens" lived, their laws were up for grabs. This was/is the rationale for their seizing of non-Christian lands and peoples and why they as superior moral persons due to their Christian status allowed them to rule over lands they had Christianized in a sort of "first cause" stance. Even if the heathens accepted Christ they were still their governors, having been "born" Christians and not made mere converts."Moral superiority" was imbedded in Just War Theory on the part of these Europeans and the idea that "conquest equals improvement" and "conquerors have higher moral authority."

Annett says that moral superiority is simply a doctrine posited by Aristotle in his treatment on slavery. Church scholars since Augustine (Bishop of Hippo, 300s) and Thomas Aquinas (1300s) were mixing Greek philosophy with Christian sentiment in order to justify their crimes of genocide. The Protestants took up Just War Theory, Martin Luther perfected it in Germany with his "basilea theo" or "fortress of God" mentality and his "Two Swords Theory" which said:

  1. The Church produces "good citizens" for the State
  2. The State protects the Church with her armies

Human rights according to the Church and State are not inherent but granted by sovereigns. All of this rationale was used by the Church to annihilate indigenous people all over the world. These countries believed that the land they were "discovering" was "terra nullius" or "the land of no one." Non-Christians were considered non-human. A non-human can be obliterated with no remorse.

Haida Elder Wilfred Price

After Annett finished tracing the philosophical roots of the Church's rationale for Genocide in Canada, Haida elder Wilfred Price started to talk about the Indian Act of 1876 and the B.C. Treaty process.Wilf was visibly "spent" as he tried to describe how it feels to talk about what has happened to aboriginals in Canada, how the environment is, how it is "always winter and never Christmas." That means that it is always cold and never warm with plenty of resources.

Wil talked about the Church/State hybrid that his people have lived under for 500+ years. He apologized to everyone for his lack of a systematic/cohesive presentation as he "rambled on last week" and "wandered all over the place" in an attempt to cover as much ground, as much history of his people in as much of a respectful fashion as he could.

He talked about the difficulty of speaking well, of not giving into anger, of being personally overwhelmed by the emotions that the storytelling evoked. He talked about seeing pictures of his father at age 10 being driven away from the reserve to the residential school on the back of a pick-up truck -- with the RCMP officer driving and the Christian minister riding shotgun.

He spoke briefly about the Aboriginal belief in Canada and elsewhere in North America that:

There is no difference between:

  • Church and State
  • Church and RCMP
  • Church and Devil

He talked about this belief in the minds of millions of NA indigenous people that the Church and the Law and Devil are all one entity. They are all in cahoots together and their aim is to kill off the rest of the Aboriginals and take what is left of the land.

Aboriginals cannot trust the Church nor attend their services because the Church is evil (insert any denomination here you like) and must be avoided. The Church is death. They are murderers. He also talked about the Haidaprophecy that if something doesn't change by 2007-2008, the Haida and the rest of the world will be no more because a cataclysmic event is going to destroy the earth (WW III is upon us according to Wilf and his elders.)

This prophecy is elsewhere in Native North America asmany tribes say that unless the four races--white, black, yellow, red, get together and solve the problems, world wide destruction is immanent. The Ojibwe say we have to choose between nature or technology. We are choosing technology and our destruction is upon us right now).

Wilf continued to talk about the systematic genocide of his Haida people, a people who before the European-Missions encounters were 30-40,000 strong. By 1876 they were down to 600 people through smallpox, war, murder and cultural genocide.

When the Potlatch was outlawed in1876 by Canadian Parliament, the Haida did not know it was illegal. It was only when the Rt. Rev. W.H. Collison landed on Queen Charlotte Islands and told them and made them to understand what would happen to them if they didn't stop doing the Potlatch because "the Potlatch instills disrespect for private property and must be forbidden", that they decided to stop. Within five years of the decision, all of their totem poles had been cut down and the ceremony which "transmitted the life of the people" was no more.

During the Potlatch, the clans gathered and met one another, there were new births and new deaths to celebrate and mourn, there was instruction in lineage, chiefs elected, marriages, betrothals, spiritual traditions taught, language taught, resources of the land shared.

When the Potlatch ceased, so did the people and their knowledge of one another as well as the universe.

Cultural death, spiritual death. Death and more death. Wilf says that no one knows who they are.

The Potlatch ceremony provided tribal identity, it gave names, it connected individuals to clans and to the land. No one remembers who is related anymore. Knowledge of the traditions is passing away. Like Lemkin says, genocide can kill an ethnic group slowly and for the Haida, this is true.

Wilf touched on how the Haida are slowly ebbing away as they collect their welfare checks at the end of each month from the Provincial/Federal government. So dependent have the Haida become on their "paychecks" (for that is what they call it now, although it is really a welfare check), that instead of logging a small growth of cedar that Weyerhaeuser gave them, they would rather keep cashing their checks and allow the net profit from the logging of $500,000 to go to "white people." They do not want to log or expend any effort to put this money in their pocket. Today, they just want to collect their checks and not be bothered.

Wilf was shaking his head as he named, by name, chiefs, elders, council people who are "bought off" by Ottawa and who are brilliant people who regularly fly to Ottawa to "take care of Indian business" but cannot get things done locally. They come to council meetings and fight and argue for three days over whether to accept or reject allthe items on the agenda, then they just go home having not been ableto discuss even one item, and have accomplished nothing locally for the Haida.

The Canadian government through the Indian Act of 1876 and through conquest has for many decades created a welfare-dependent people who are content to cash checks and not fight the big corporations. They believe they cannot fight anymore even though in 1985 Bill C31 was passed -- which prevented logging or any other industry in B.C. to take resources without first "consulting" with the Aboriginals.

This BillC31 is a fiction and the corporations take the resources and then send council members 3 inches worth of paper after the fact and call it "consulting."The Haida continue as non-persons as do many of the Aboriginals in Canada. The conquerors never have to answer for anything while the Aboriginals are led to believe that when they come to the negotiating table -- they are sovereigns. Nothing is further from the truth. As Wilf's father said, "One cannot negotiate as a nation if the other nation limits the ability to be autonomous." For the Haida, they do not "own" their homes, only papers which say they have "possession."That possession is based on the province of B.C. to let them stay in their homes, for if anything happens on Haida-Gwaii ("gwaii" meaning nation) that the province or feds don't like, they are booted off. Any by-law made by the Haida Council or enforcement of that law on Haida-Gwaii can be overruled by Canadian law at a moment's notice for the Haida have no power in their own land.

It is still separation, annihilation, assimilation and apartheid for the Haida who live in Canada. They are forced to live as "confused chameleons" having one foot in their territory and one foot in Ottawa. As Wilf says, "we are forced to become two-faced, forced into shame and forced into silence."

The evening closed with both Kevin and Wilf admitting that Canadian society at large refuses to acknowledge what has been done to the First Nations of Canada. Annett asked everyone present why only 19 people had showed up instead of 190 or 1900 or more. Why is it that a majority of Canadians refuse to believe what happened to the Aboriginals of Canada, refuse to believe or acknowledge a Canadian genocide and holocaust? The answer to that question will be investigated next Monday night as the CAW fills up once again with concerned Canadian citizens and one American reporting for the readers of Round Dance and the Salmon House.

Next Weeks Topic: Genocide in New World- Jealousy, Power, Greed


NOTE FROM RAY: Elizabeth Levesque holds an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, has authored 2 volumes of the native/Christian devotional "Wisdom of the Chiefs" and has hosted 2 traditional Tlingit Potlatches for the Eagle Clan (Kaakwaantaan).

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

How Americans Explain Thanksgiving to the Indians Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A General Thanksgiving Declaration

In mid-winter 1620 the English ship Mayflower landed on the North American coast (at Plymouth Rock) delivering 102 Puritan exiles. The original Native people ("Indians") of this stretch of shoreline had already been killed off in great numbers.

In 1614 a British expedition had landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox, syphilis and gonorrhea behind. That plague swept the so called "tribes of New England", destroyed some villages totally.

The Puritans landed and built their colony called "the Plymouth Plantation" near the desired ruins of the Indian village of Pawtuxet. They ate from abandoned cornfields grown wild.

Historical accounts tell us that only one Pawtuxet named Squanto had survived. He had spent the last years as a slaveto the English and Spanish in Europe. The Pilgrim crop failed miserably, but the agricultural expertise of Squanto produced 20 acres of corn, without which the Pilgrims would have surely perished. Squanto spoke the colonists' language and taught them how to plant corn and how to catch fish. Squanto also helped the colonists negotiate a peace treaty with the nearby Wampanoagtribe, led by the chief Massasoit.

These were very lucky breaks for the colonists. Thanks to the good will of the Wampanoag, the Puritans not only survived their first year but had an alliance with the Wampanoags that would give them almost two decades of peace.

In celebration of their good fortune, the colony's governor, William Bradford, declared a three-day feast afterthe first harvest of 1621. It later became known as "Thanksgiving", but the Pilgrims never called it that. The "Indians" who attended were not even invited. The pilgrims only invited Chief Massasoit and it was Massasoit who then invited ninety or more of his "Indian" brothers and sisters to the affair to the chagrin of the indignant Europeans.

No turkey, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie was served, no prayers were offered and the "Indians" were not invited back for any other such meals.The peace that produced the Thanksgiving Feast of 1621 meant that the Puritans would have fifteen years to established a firm foothold on the coast. Until 1629 there were no more than 300 Puritans in New England, scattered in small and isolated settlements. But their survival inspired awave of Puritan invasion that soon established growing Massachusetts towns north of Plymouth; Boston and Salem.

For ten years, boat loads of new settlers came. As the Europeans' numbers increased, they proved not nearly as generous as the Wampanoags. On arrival, the Puritans discussed "whole gally owns all this land? "Massachusetts Governor Wintrop declared the "Indians" had not "subdued" the land, and therefore all uncultivated lands should, according to English Common Law, be considered "public domain."

This meant they belonged to the king.

In short, colonists decided they did notneed to consult the "Indians". When they seized the new lands, they only had to consult the representative of the crown (meaning the local governor). The Puritans embraced a line from Psalms 2:8, "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heather for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of he earth for thy possession."

Contrary to popular mythology, the Pilgrims were no friends to the local Indigenous People ("Indians"). In about 1636, a force of colonists trapped some seven hundred Pequot Indians near the mouth of the Mystic River.

English Captain John Mason attacked the Indian camp with "fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk." Only a handful escaped and few prisoners were taken. "To see them frying in thefire, and the streams of their blood quenching the same, and the stench was horrible, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice to the great delight of the Pilgrims, and they gave praise thereof to God.

"The Puritan fathers believed they were the Chosen People of an Infinite God and that this justified anything they did. They were Calvinists who believed that the vast majority of humanity was predestined to damnation. During this period a day of thanksgiving was also proclaimed in the churches of Manhattan.

The European colonists declared thanksgiving days to celebrate mass murder more often than they did for reverence, harvest or friendship.

In 1641 the Dutch governor Kieft of Manhattan offered the first "scalp bounty". His government paid money for the scalp of each "Indian" brought to him. A couple of years later, Kieft ordered the massacre of the Wappingers, a "friendly tribe". Eighty were killed and their heads severed. In their victory, the settlers launched an all out genocide plot against the remaining Native people.

The Massachusetts government, following what appeared to be the order of the day, offered twenty shillings bounty for every "Indian" scalp, and forty shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave and rape any "Indian" woman or enslave any "Indian" child under 14 they could kidnap.

The "Praying Indians" who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with "hostiles." They were enslaved or killed. Other "peaceful Indians" of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts and were sold onto slave ships.

Colonial law further gave permission to "kill savages ("Indians") on sight at will."Any goodwill that may have existed was certainly now gone and by 1675 Massachusetts and the surrounding colonies were in a full scale war with thegreat chief of the Wampanoags, Metacomet. Renamed "King Phillip" by the Europeans,

Metacomet watched the steady erosion of the lifestyles and culture of his people as European laws and values engulfed them. The syphilis, gonorrhea, smallpox and all types of "foreign" diseases took their toll.

Forced ultimately into humiliating submission by the power of a distant king, Metacomet struck out with raids on several isolated frontier towns. The expedient use of the so-called "Praying Indians" (natives converted to their version of Christianity), ultimately defeated the great "Indian" nation, just half a century after the arrival of the European.

When Captain Benjamin Church tracked down and assassinated Metacomet, his body was quartered and parts were "left for the wolves." The great "Indian"chief's hands were cut off and sent to Boston and his head went to Plymouthwhere it was set upon a poke on Thanksgiving Day, 1767.

Metacomet's nine-year-old son was destined for execution, the Puritan reasoning being that the offspring of the "Devil" must pay for the sins of their father. He was instead shipped to the Caribbean to serve his life in slavery.

In the midst of the Holocaust/Genocide of the Native Americans, Governor Dudley declared in 1704 a "General Thanksgiving" not to celebrate the brotherhood of man, but for:[God's] infinite Goodness to extend His Favors... In defeating and disappointing.... the expeditions of the Enemy [Indians] against us, And the good Success given us against them, by delivering so many of them into our hands...

What do Americans see when you say Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 22, 2004

The New MECCA - Multi Ethnic Cross Cultural Assimilation

A fan writes to me and says:

Dear Ray,

I wish you could see my church. It is truly multi-cultural. I'm really not into statistics but there are people coming to my church in Elmhurst, Queens, NYC from all over the world. It is a beautiful sight and a little piece of heaven. Tonight they are having "Bangra Ball"- some kind of dance form from India, for the singles- ages 23-74. I would have preferred Native American dances, but our singles pastor is Jimmy Chin, Korean or Chinese, so I guess he's thinking more Asian. There are some 150 Native American people in Elmhurst, according to the census, out of some 15,000 people, most of whom are Asian or Hispanic. There are quite a few of us in the church of NA descent but only my family, myself, my daughter and my sister are culturally involved.


RAY: Hi Sister -- and thanks for what you are doing and contributing in your church -- what a good thing you are doing! I am sure there are good things happening in MECC (Multi-ethnic Cross-cultural) churches all over North America. This is an urban phenomenon and whenyou get to suburban and rural (reservation) areas, this is really not sociologically possible. Even in the cities, there are churches thatare mono-cultural and have no plans and no calling to be MECC.

The difficulty we see is that the MECC concept is being imposed on many and it is being taught that this is the "right" way to do church and the "closest to the biblical requirements" of any other church form. This is both bad teaching and spiritually abusive to do so.

MECC is a fad (maybe a preference), not a biblical mandate. Yes we will all be together in heaven, and on occasion we cross cultural lines here. But we have 6000 languages spoken in the world today and many more cultures than that (meaning, for example, that many places may speak English but the cultures are different).

So if a group of urban people which to "mix it up" -- go for it! But don't let them impose their form and format on us and insist that their way is "anointed", "the highest form of biblical gathering", the "biblical mandate", or "the future model of the church on earth".

There is enough trouble in trying to have a church on the Yakama Reservation with fourteen different tribes and strong families from different lines "competing" in various ways. Sprinkle in some whites and hispanics and there is plenty to do without forcing whites to be mexicans, or mexicans to be Yakamas or Yakamas to be white.

Some might say "oh but how beautiful it would be if they could all worship in each others' ways", but frankly, that is exhausting and confusing! We should not have to exhaust ourselves to follow Christ -- co-dependently attempting to appease and please every cultural community!

Most people that I have talked with about MECC are very gung-ho about "their way" and it is best not to get in their way. Armed with only a few scriptures, they justify "their way" by guilting the mono-cultural churches and native sacred gatherings that I am often part of.

The first church I started was Spanish-speaking. After about 3 years they added an English-speaking congregation but did not force worship together. They shared the building and did some things together, but did not try to "force conformity" and call it "biblical unity". From that one mono-cultural Spanish church, 20 more Spanish Foursquare churches emerged, and not due to any partnership with white churches.They were free to follow the ways of the Hispanic community and were quite successful.

It was not the white Foursquare churches that decided to add Spanish songs to their service and become multi-cultural. It was the Spanish-speaking reaching the Spanish-speaking. Apparently something worked since the Hispanic pastor I installed when I left is today the Supervisor of Fourquare's National Hispanic District.

When you see an MECC church, usually it is run in a very Western way with Western (white or black) leadership, Western Bible College or seminary-trained pastors, usually connected to Western denominations, following Western preaching styles, tithe collecting, and emphasis on buildings and programs.

What they use to demonstrate "multiculturalism" are music specials, and sometimes speakers and special events. But for the most part, it is really just a mainstream church serving up a combo platter. Sure there is Chinese food, Mexican food and pizza on their spiritual plate, but the restaurant is still owned and run by the majority church.

Culture is God's way of communicating to the many peoples He has made. If someone wants to try and work with 10 groups at a time, fine. But one culture will dominate in leadership, education,finances and control. The other cultures will get to do the entertainment and the specials. I have attended a national MECC leaders' conference -- I am not making this up.

To me, Jesus said to go preach the Good News to every "ethne" (people group). He did not say, "blessed are the efficient ones who can save more cultures with less pastors". So I am continuing on the same path of encouraging small gatherings that form around natural cultural characteristics. We are still one Body in Christ, but let us not be afraid to be who we are, who we were made to be.

And let us not be afraid to acknowledge that we need the other parts of the body, but if you are the heart or the eyes, don't try to be the foot or the arm. We are trying to be the Bride of Christ, not the Bride of Frankenstein!

Thanks for listening!

+Ray - if you want to research MECCA on your own...

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Yanomamo Declaration Against Eating Missionaries

In the middle of the jungle a church was born. 350 years ago, the Haleluya began to worship God in a new way that had come to their founder. They have never had a missionary nor a Bible to teach them, yet in all our encounters with them, the express a biblical faith. My friend preached to them a while back. Since they have no written language, they created a song that included the teaching points of his sermon. When has someone in your church written a song about one of your sermons?

My friends have spent much time with the Haleluya church. They Haleluyas have never been welcomed by the Brazilian church because the Brazilians have been too busy stealing their land, abusing their girls, and building wherever they want. But the Haleluyas stay in the jungle, praying for deliverance.

Every day, without alarm clocks, these people rise at 3 AM and pray until 6 AM. When someone is sick, they all fast together for three days. Maybe what post moderns really want is this savage religion -- any takers?

So now, as the Brazilian evangelicals find out about the Haleluyas, the church will ask, "well do they believe in the Bible?", the Four Spiritual Laws (4 Leis Espirituais)?, the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed ()? or anything written by Max Lucado or Phillip Yancey? How orthodox are they -- do they subscribe to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral?

Of course for a people cut off from the wider church, these won't be easy questions to answer. They will have to have a written language first. Of course the Evangelical church doesn't seem to care about the Yanomamo Declaration Against Eating Missionaries, which would no doubt save their lives in certain areas.

I hope the church is big-hearted and merciful enough to make a place for the Halaluya Church and all the other emerging churches just now coming out of the jungles of obscurity. With God's help, me and Liz will go to the annual Haleluya church celebration of 2000 to 3000 believers some November. No outsiders have ever been invited. We are very excited to go when the time comes.

We we able to collect a box of protocol gifts -- all kinds of jewelry and crafts made by native North Amricans. These were taken this month as gifts to the Macuxi and Ingarico people gathering there. (We are not sure what they will do with the earrings since these people do not pierce their ears...) It is their first contact with Native North Americans. Thanks for helping to make all this possible. Thanks for you prayers, and thanks for listening...