Yesterday was my 60th birthday. It was also Columbus Day. I'm not sure which event deserved more attention.
The issue that is swirling through my mind has nothing to do with my birthday. It has everything to do with the fact that our nation sets aside a day to remember Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America. We seem to conveniently ignore the fact that people had been living here for thousands of years.
The state of South Dakota is the only state that has replaced Columbus Day with a Native American Day in 1989. The city of Berkeley, CA, observes Indigenous Peoples' Day. This is it?
Methodists travelled with native Americans on the trail of tears to express their solidarity with this outrageous act. But they also were on the other side. And in 1864 a Methodist pastor and colonel in the U.S. Army, John Chivington, led a 700-man army and killed 70-163 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho people. Two thirds of them were women, children, and infants.
As United Methodists we have not always been on the right side of history or lived by the principles set forth by John Wesley or holy Scripture. It seems to me that we still have work to be reconciled with native people in this country. One part of this work could be the creation of a Native American Day.
To learn more about this issue you can go to http://www.bia.gov/DocumentLibrary/HeritageMonth/index.htm.
Our United Methodist Native American Comprehensive Plan can be viewed at http://www.gbod.org/site/c.nhLRJ2PMKsG/b.4751535/k.9027/Native_American.htm.