The General Conference of The United Methodist Church affirms the sacredness of Native American people, their languages, cultures, and gifts to the church and the world, past and present. As people of faith, we celebrate and honor Native American peoples and commemorate their histories and cultures. We call upon the world, and the people of The United Methodist Church to receive and affirm the gifts of Native Americans, including American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Together, we are those created in God’s image (Imago Dei).
We invite all to seek to fully understand the history of this day, respect and learn from Indigenous peoples, and support their struggles for social justice, religious freedom and inclusion of their traditional knowledge. Learn more.
Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations. See the full White House Proclamation on Indigenous People’s Day.
Fifteen Ways to Honor Indigenous Peoples Day
1. Recognize the original indigenous people who’ve lived on the land you occupy. This land is holy ground. A tool that may be helpful is https://native-land.ca/. Then tell us about the tribes you’ve discovered here, https://forms.gle/AG1thDsFtgBhskuP6. Learn more with this Blanket Exercise video.
2. Craft a Sunday service around Indigenous Peoples Day. As you plan your service, invite those within your congregation who are Native people to participate in the planning and the service itself. Work to find out the pre- and postcolonial history of the land you are worshiping on and the Native peoples who have lived there. Another resource from Native American Sunday may also be helpful.
3. Build and strengthen connections to nearby Native communities. Make plans to attend an event hosted by a Native group, organization, or cultural center. Find out how your congregation can be of assistance regarding the issues nearby groups are working on or struggling with. See an informative site for those in Maryland.
4. Study the Doctrine of Discovery and work to eliminate its effects. The United Methodist Church condemns the Doctrine of Discovery as a legal document used for the seizing of lands and abusing the human rights of indigenous peoples. The United Methodist Church will work toward eliminating the use of the Doctrine of Discovery. See the UMC Video Series “Stealing the Earth” the Doctrine of Discovery Stealing the Earth Part 1: What is the Doctrine of Discovery?
5. Provide age-appropriate education on Native lives and cultures as part of your congregation’s religious education programming. Take active steps to counter the dominant message that Native peoples are history by offering examples of present-day American Indian life, art, etc. Resources include: Giving Our Hearts Away: Native American Survival by Thom White Wolf Fassett (a resource sponsored by United Methodist Women); On This Spirit Walk: The Voices of Native American and Indigenous Peoples by Henrietta Mann and Anita Phillips; and the “Return to the Earth” project of the Mennonite Central Committee. These are all study guides to culturally relevant American Indian traditions that provide an opportunity for The United Methodist Church to engage in its commitment for Restorative Justice. .
6. Hold a movie screening with a discussion afterward. There are a plethora of films that can generate rich discussion. Check out VisionMaker Video, a video catalog by Native American Public Telecommunications of films by and about Native folks (see, for example, the film Columbus Day Legacy).
7. Host a congregation-wide common read and book discussion. Possible titles include: An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz; A Little Matter of Genocide by Ward Churchill; Off the Reservation by Paula Gunn Allen; Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown; Reinventing the Enemy's Language edited by Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird; The Woman Who Watches Over the World by Linda Hogan; and Soul Work edited by Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Nancy Palmer Jones.
You can also find books on the particular tribes in your area — check out a listing of books by tribes from Native Languages of the Americas. For more reading suggestions, visit Bringing the Doctrine of Discovery Back Home.
8. Engage with “Immigration as a Moral Issue.” Indigenous peoples of Central America are a big part of today’s desperate wave of migration to the United States. Find out how the United States has continued Columbus’s violent legacy of colonialism against Central American peoples. Check out the study guide from Multicultural Growth & Witness.
9. Begin building the World We Dream About, a transformational Tapestry of Faith curriculum on race and ethnicity. This program allows participants to take concrete steps to heal, individually and as a congregation, the ways in which racism separates us from one another and spiritually stifles each of us.
10. Take action for the rights and needs of Native peoples. Visit https://bwcaction.org/establish-the-truth-and-healing-commission-on-indian-boarding-school-policies-act/
12. Journey with Ella Mae and meet her niece in the D.C. area on Oct. 12– Learn more about her and her aunt’s story here.
13. Pray for and support Native/Indigenous ministries, community groups, and businesses. In addition to giving on May 1, consider making a monthly or quarterly donation to Native American ministries and scholarships in your area. Or you can give to the denomination-wide Native American Comprehensive Plan here.
14. Learn about the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative and support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act, https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/us-boarding-school-investigative-report-released and https://boardingschoolhealing.org/truthcommission/ 1
15. Share the Oklahoma City Public School lesson plan for Thanksgiving with your youth in preparation for Thanksgiving Day.