Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
NEW YORK The Episcopal Church will join with other religious voices in repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery at the 11th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues beginning on Monday, May 7 through Friday, May 18.
Native American Episcopal Church Members Form a White Earth Circle
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will participate in an ecumenical delegation which is hosting a service and panel presentation on Monday.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the UN's Economic and Social Council that has met annually since 2002 to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.
This year's special theme is "The Doctrine of Discovery: its enduring impact on indigenous peoples and the right to redress for past conquests (articles 28 and 37 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery in 2009.
May 7 Ecumenical Panel
Prior to the official opening of the United Nations Permanent Forum on May 7, an ecumenical panel, sponsored in part by the Episcopal Church, will address "Churches Disavow the Doctrine of Discovery Calling for Poverty Alleviation and Healing." With a focus on education, land rights, reconciliation, healing and practical next steps, panelists include:
Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori;
Sarah Augustine, Director of the Suriname Indigenous Health Fund;
Professor Robert J. Miller, law professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, Chief Justice of the Grand Ronde Tribe (Eastern Shawnee), author of Native America, Discovered and Conquered and co-author of Discovering Indigenous Lands; and
Dr. Erma Vizenor, Tribal Chairwoman of the White Earth Nation.
The panel is co-sponsored by the Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion, World Council of Churches, Mennonite Central Committee, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, The Grail, Gray Panthers, UFER - International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples, Suriname Indigenous Health Fund, NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Salvation Army, World Christian Student Federation, and Office of the Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations.
Noting that this panel is a collective moment of healing and reconciliation that benefits all indigenous peoples, Sarah Eagle Heart, Episcopal Church Indigenous Ministries Missioner, commented,
"The opportunity we have before us, is likely one that we will not have for a long period of time, a time where worldwide indigenous communities are listening because the theme of the UN PFII is the Doctrine of Discovery. We must be prepared to share with indigenous communities that we truly seek to acknowledge and lament the pain of our history. We can be a voice that strives to help all realize we want the same thing at the end of the day to right some wrongs and help the people. While we cannot change our history and cannot right every wrong, we can help build a future that endeavors to work together. We need to build trust in order for any community building endeavor to work and not many indigenous communities know that The Episcopal Church has supported tribal rights since 1976."
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posted May 5, 2012 8:50 am edt