​While Mary Mitchell cooks a Potawatomi meal for Trail of Death participants, Lynda Hollinger-Janzen listens to Eddie Joe Mitchell's history of his ancestors. Photographer: Photo by Peter Anderson, fiercelyalive.com

By Cynthia Friesen Coyle and Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Tuesday, October 6, 2020

In acknowledgement of Indigenous People's Day on Oct. 12, we offer the final blog of a three-part series. Mennonite Mission Network participants outline some action steps based on what they learned during Mother Earth's Pandemic: The Doctrine of Discovery, an online conference. Read the first blog here and the second blog here.

As women who have committed our lives to following Jesus Christ, we desire to refute the Doctrine of Christian Discovery as a twisted biblical interpretation that is motivated by greed and lust for power. Some of our ancestors moved onto Indigenous lands after forced removals by the U.S. government. How do we start walking upstream against the current of the long history of our Mennonite denomination's blind cooperation with the U.S. government?

Learn. By listening to narratives from cultures whose voices have been suppressed, we can gain a broader and truer perspective.

Acknowledge the truth. Many Mennonite congregations are writing land acknowledgments, recognizing the people who lived where they now worship, as a starting point for moving toward justice and right relationships with Indigenous brothers and sisters.

Lament. "Our only path to healing is through lament and learning how to accept some very unsettling truths," write the authors of Unsettling Truths.

  • Charles and Rah introduce the concept of White trauma. "White America could not perpetrate five hundred years of dehumanizing injustice without traumatizing itself…we are called to an equality in our mutual brokenness and trauma…Institutions established by [White people] are so ashamed of their own past that they are unable to even publish accurate history."
  • Lament resources compiled by Mennonite Church USA.

Connect with the earth and the global community. In her presentation at the Mother Earth Pandemic conference, Tina Nagata from Te Ika a Maui (New Zealand) said that her ancestors were ocean people, living in harmony with water. "Before there was land, there was water," Nagata said. "Our bodies are made of 60 percent water." She explained that water is intended to be a connector that gives life. People travel from one community to another via water. However, the Doctrine of Christian Discovery has made rivers and oceans into boundary lines that divide people. "Water loves us," Nagata said. "She is waiting for enough of us to recognize her, so we can connect around the world."

Do justice. In James 1:22-24, the Bible tells us to not just hear the truth, but to act on what we hear. "…whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God… and sticks with it, … that person will find delight and affirmation in the action."





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​Cynthia Friesen Coyle is a graphic designer for Mennonite Mission Network.




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