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The unique reality of Native American Christians

The unique reality of Native American Christians

Native American Christians often find their practices and beliefs to be misunderstood and mischaracterized, according to a report from Minnesota Public Radio:

During worship, the Rev. Robert Two Bulls covers the altar with a star quilt. Instead of burning incense, he opts for sweet grass.

Rev. Two Bulls is a fourth generation Episcopalian. He’s been a priest for 13 years. Yet he’s frequently asked if he truly wants to be a Christian.

His answer is always the same.

“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” he said. “That’s kinda what it boils down to, you know.”

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Paul Woodrum

As a kid I would frequently spend summers with my aunt and grandmother and in later years visit with my parents in Albuquerque, NM. When I sometimes attended the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. John I would wonder why, with all the Native American and Mexican artists available in the area, everything at the cathedral looked like (and probably was) straight out of the A–y catalog. Years later it was explained to me that this was deliberate. White Episcopalians wanted it to be quite clear they were Anglos and neither Native Americans nor Mexicans nor, I guess, were those people or their local culture welcome. I hope it’s changed.

Ann Fontaine

If you want to read about day to day life of Episcopalians and their priest, follow Leave It Lay Where Jesus Flang It. Blog by Margaret Watson.

Weiwen Ng

Those of us who are not Native American – the vast majority of us – need to remember one thing: Christ, also, is an Indigenous person. Israel was colonized by the Romans, and Christ would empathize personally with their plight.

I think non-Native Christians should step back and let Native American Christians develop their own unique expression of Christianity if they want to. To the extent that we can incorporate specific elements from Native liturgies into the rest of the church without appropriating those elements, we should. I am thinking of things like burning sweet grass as incense on Columbus day. Commission stained glass or other religious art with Native elements (see picture 1), as an addition to existing art. Use Native American drums, on occasion.

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