From WILLIAM EDELEN
Special to The Desert Sun
As one who has studied the Plains Indians at the Graduate level at the University of Colorado, and as one who is ordained in the United Church of Christ (Congregational) the farce of Friday nights “debate” combined with the ignorance of one of the participants sent my blood pressure to a new level.
The bigotry and obscenities inflicted upon the American Indians by Christian missionaries constitute one of the most repugnant periods of American history. But among the more enlightened elements of the Christian church there have been signs of maturing spirituality. I refer to the recent requests for forgiveness to the Native American people. The warm and touching apology from Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders of the Pacific Northwest reads as follows:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters: This is a formal apology on behalf of our churches for the destruction of Native American spiritual practices. Your spiritual power can be a great gift to us. We ask for your forgiveness and blessing.”
This was signed by the senior Bishops, or Executives, of the Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Congregational churches.
The United Church of Christ (Congregational), the church of my ordination issued another apology of their own:
“We bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the ongoing injustice and religious imperialism that have been so disruptive of the spiritual values of Indian life and culture. The effect of the Christian missionary legacy, and the Christian influence has been the disparagement and undermining of the Indian culture and a spiritual impoverishment. The missionaries were blinded by a religious ethnocentrism. The depth of this tragedy is now being realized. We take full responsibility for our part in the ongoing atrocity, and we express to you, our brothers and sisters, a deeply felt sorrow and penitent spirit.”