:-:-:-:S.I.S.I.S. / Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty:-:-:-:
Church and State Still Ugly Bedfellows
S.I.S.I.S. Bulletin, 27 September 1997
"I have not come to get your lands... but to enlighten your minds. There is but one religion, and you have never worshipped the Great Spirit in a manner acceptable to him but have all your lives been in great error and darkness..."
"Brother: We do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own... we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while, and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will consider again of what you have said."
The Christian Churches have a lot of Indigenous blood on their hands. From the Conquistadores to the genocidal residential schools, the Christian Churches wrought havoc and cultural genocide upon the Sovereign Indigenous Nations of the Americas. In the present period this continues via the Christian Churches' continued active support of settler-state usurpation fraud and genocide. In Canada church-state constellations continue to systematically erode core structures of Indigenous identity, culture and sovereignty.
This church-state genocide manifests both in the continued "Christianization" of indigenous nationals into the Christian cult and "euro" worldview, as well as by the support and furtherance of state sponsored extinguishment and termination strategies such as the BC Treaty Commission. This is facilitated by the churches' continued influence within the state itself, as is the case of BC's Native Affairs Minister who is also a Minister of the United Church of Canada, and by church lobbys such as ARC (Aboriginal Rights Coalition) and Project North, whose exclusive promotion and fundraising for what traditional sovereigntists refer to as "the sellout agenda" have contributed to systematic suppression and deprivation of support for dissenting voices or those critical of continuing church-state genocide and neo-colonialism.
In the most recent edition of Island Christian Info, which describes itself as "a monthly tabloid with news and observations, through quality journalism, from a deliberately Christian perspective," a couple of items are interesting:
In the first, "Indigenous Team Shares Jesus at the Games", we are told of how 30 Christians worked the recent North American Indigenous Games "manning a busy booth at the Cultural village in Sidney, and sponsored a "youth-quake" event which drew several thousand". Also distributed were hundreds of "copies of the Jesus video... they went fast... Hundreds of bibles were also picked up from the table. Cree bibles were the first to go, as Cree speakers were the majority at the games. Bibles in other tribal languages, as well as English, found new homes with spiritual hungry aboriginals. As well as bibles, two titles on family life and sex were available at the booth, along with other literature.."
Even more alarming is "Christians in Aboriginal Negotiations - The Untold Story":
"A number of clearly-committed Christians, many of them aboriginal, are currently playing significant roles in First Nations matters in BC. Those roles emerge in various sectors of the extensive network of negotiations currently underway in the province. But, additionally, there appears to be substantial input from Christians in the economic development area. To many First Nations leaders, economic wellbeing for their people is as important in the short run as is the negotiation process in the longer term.
"The presence of Christian input in these processes is, to this point, not a well known story in non-native communities - Christian or otherwise. As a result, many non-native Christian British Columbians believe that native leadership is working to an anti-Christian, anti-white agenda. Endemic to that perceived agenda is the assumption that BC aboriginals want to subjugate the non-native descendants of those who crushed them in the 19th and early 20th centuries."
On the contrary, the article goes on to stress: "those Christians who are involved with First Nations groups in either negotiation or economic development would want to allay those fears". We are told that "Christian faith, not some secular or pagan vision" is the basis of involvement. What follows is a selected look at Christian influence deep within the ongoing BC Treaty negotiations. These include "the vice-chair of lands and resources negotiations" for the "ruling body of a First Nation community which claims traditional territory covering 10% of BC... one of the largest land claims in British Columbia." This individual we are informed was saved from "the influence of alcohol and other hounds of hell" by a "Terry Winter meeting in Whitehorse" and "the entry of the Vineyard movement into his community in the late 1980s.... It was the Vineyard movement that gave him the confidence to learn the negotiation process which led to his present job." Two Nisga'as are also profiled who "participated in group meetings about the well publicized agreement-in principle reached a year ago."
Also profiled is one of the "behind the scenes people in many of the current aboriginal processes... She has worked for ARC in recent years and moves, in September, to Vancouver School of Theology. There she will provide administrative support for VST's native ministries consortium, which is involved in theological education and explores Christianity, spirituality and the sacraments from a native perspective."
"In the course of her work, she may come across Paul Nettleton, a Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly who has just taken on the aboriginal economic development critic's role for the official opposition in Victoria. Nettleton, whose constituency is Prince George/Omineca, attends Nechako Christian Fellowship... the son of a Pentacostal minister, his aboriginal experience comes out of his practice in a Dene run Prince George law firm. A deep faith in Christ, along with the kind of relationship building which goes on in many Christian and aboriginal communities, forms much of the backdrop to the way he handles First Nations issues. When he is not in the legislative assembly in Victoria, he spends a fair amount of time in the Atlin area, working with Native groups as they track activities relating to the reopening of a mine in the area. He enjoys working out joint venture arrangements which see the bands receive economic benefits from the exploiting of resources in their areas..."
"Nettleton sees... a chief in the Vanderhoof area who has been active in The Gathering, as pivotal to a number of aboriginal/Christian initiatives in BC. The Gathering is an occasional charismatic event which draws together several thousand at a time for worship and teaching, in various BC locations."
The role of the Christian Churches in actively promoting and participating in processes described by Haida elder Lavina White as "the legitimization of the theft of our lands" demonstrates their persistence as a continuing feature of Canadian settler-state colonialism and genocide.
"When the white man came, we had the land and he had the bibles. Now we have the bibles and he has our land." -- old native saying
AN END TO CHRISTIAN COLONIZATION AND COMPLICITY IN GENOCIDE
Island Christian Info: http://www.cinevision.com/info
More information on the BC Treaty Process: http://kafka.uvic.ca/~vipirg/SISIS/Clark/BCgovt.html
S.I.S.I.S. Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty P.O. Box 8673, Victoria, "B.C." "Canada" V8X 3S2
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