A Moment for Mission
"We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing." — 2 Thessalonians 1:3, NRSV
A group of Native American young people from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference raised their voices about Native-themed mascots and other issues important to their communities during the Youth 2019 national gathering in Kansas City, Missouri.
"We wanted to leverage the gathering … to shine a light on pressing Native issues and to create awareness on how young United Methodists can be our ally and support our Native young people," said the Rev. David Wilson, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference superintendent.
Three Native youth were selected for a panel on the mascot issue, preserving Native languages and the sacredness of water.
Alyssa Underwood, 16, a member of the Comanche Nation and a high school junior, shared a video she helped produce that explores how racist mascots and stereotypes affected her as a Native youth.
"You put me in a box to contain me, to absolve your guilt," Underwood said on the "Know My Truth" video, which has had more than 25,000 views through social media. "I am not a character; I am not a mascot. I am human. I have infinite value and worth."
In addition to saying no to Native American-themed mascots or names in sports or commercial products, Underwood suggested young people do their homework and get to know Native people in their own communities.
"It is helpful to recognize that one Native American voice does not speak for all Native Americans," said Underwood. "Approach conversations with several people for diverse opinions."
— Adapted from "Native Young People Speak Up at National Gathering," Ginny Underwood for UM News, Sept. 5, 2019
Loving God, thank you for our brothers and sisters in the faith. Encourage and help us to listen and learn from one another. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost — God of redemption and reconciliation , we come to you this morning, hoping for a peek at the Divine in our lives. We are reminded that, like Zacchaeus, Jesus calls to us across the divide of our failures and offenses, beckoning us back into the family. While there is no price set on this reconnection, when we accept that reality, we cannot contain an outburst of generosity. May our gifts be used to right wrongs and to draw others to the life-transforming love of Jesus. In his holy name, we pray. Amen. Luke 19:1-10
November is Native American Heritage Month, also called American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month—a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. It is an opportunity to raise awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and today and to share ways in which tribal citizens work to conquer these challenges.
In 1990, U.S. President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month, thereafter commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month. Native and non-Native people observe the month in different ways. Some host festivals, performances and dances to honor Native American culture, while others conduct panel discussions aimed at educating people about their history, challenges, principles and practices throughout the years.
United Methodists celebrate the many contributions of Native Americans to our community and to our church, not only during Native American Heritage Month, but every single day.
— Adapted from National Congress of American Indians website and other sources