20 September 2009

Rededication of Menominee: an act of reconciliation & resolve


The Centennial of the Chief Menominee Dedication was an amazing event to witness. The words shared were moving and poignant. Prayers were said in Pottawatomie and English. Songs were sung recounting the sad tale of Menominee and in encouragement to view all things in a circle, a continuum of life as we are all connected to each other.


Chief Menominee was a Christian man whose land was stolen by our government and he was removed in shackles. His tribe of nearly a thousand were marched to Kansas, many dying en route. Soldiers burned their village and the chapel in which they worshipped our God. This black mark on our history is known as the "Trail of Death".



The rededication of the statue erected in 1909 began unofficially Thursday evening with a short time of prayer at the monument with the sunset blazing at our backs as we stood in the footprint of the destroyed replica chapel. The intent was to pray for reconciliation, healing and a resolve to end racism our community experiences today....to allow the rededication be a dedication of ourselves to never let this happen again, in any form, to any people. To pray for us to be instruments of God's peace and for peace to fall on that site the following day.



I trust something deeply spiritual happened on Friday. I pray that eyes and hearts were open to not only the injustice in 1838, but the injustice experienced today. I pray that a healing took place in spiritual realms...that the transgressions of our forefathers are washed over and any residue of that wrong-doing that hangs like a mist over our community has cleared. I pray that the Pottawatomie that were gathered from across this nation understood this rededication was as much about atonement as it was remembrance.

The song about Menominee must have gripped the hearts of those present, but it was the words of Father Petit, priest to Menominee's village, as spoken by a young man from our highschool, that may have impressed me most deeply.....and possibly caused some to cringe at their ringing truths:


Though I was sent here to bring the message of Christ to them, they taught me His ways simply by their placid life. They seem to be closer to God than some of our French clergy—and certainly they are closer to Christ than some of the Americans who are seeking their removal.

The natives take the word of God with them wherever they go, teaching others the catechism and speaking of the love of Christ. Their lives are like living examples of the lives of the saints who lived on sparse provisions day to day and spread the Gospel.

They are so unlike the savages that the Americans paint them to be! I know who the true savages are here in the United States. Many of the Americans have hearts as dry as cork and only think of two things: land and money!

The human tragedy of such inhumane treatment of the aboriginal peoples of this land is incomparable. And all of this “removal” was performed by a people that claim the words of the United States Declaration of Independence which boldly proclaims: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, of which are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

These red men, women, and children were denied their God-given right. How could a Christian people allow for such an act of cruelty? How could the majority of decent American citizens meekly stand by and allow fellow human beings to be “removed” as if they were nothing more than bothersome insects or unwanted animals?

Chief Menominee said, “Civilized man considered our races savage and yet he has treated us most savagely."

2 comments:

vanilla said...

Though we were unable to attend the ceremonies, your account makes it a part of us. Appreciate your pictures and commentary. Thank you.

hoosier reborn said...

Vanillia,
You should visit my friend's blog for his account of the event at "Down the Road" on the side bar. You would have enjoyed the event.