Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day
September 19, 2022 / By Sharon Schmit, CONAM
Often a holiday weekend is just an extra day off from work. We forget what the day is marking. This is not true for many Native Americans when Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday each October. Columbus, like other explorers of his time, operated under the Doctrine of Discovery, a series of Papal Bulls issued by the church in the 1500s which gave explorers permission to claim the “non-Christian” lands they “discovered” for their monarchy and to convert, enslave, or kill the people who were living there. The colonization which followed the “discovery” of the Americas continues to affect generations of Native peoples today.
For United Methodists, the second Monday in October has been recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day. An Act of Repentance & Healing of Relationships with Indigenous Persons was held as part of the 2015 Upper New York (UNY) Annual Conference. In the words adopted by the delegates present “be it resolved that ‘Columbus Day’ will no longer be recognized by the people of The Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.” This change has occurred throughout the country as individuals, organizations, and governments move away from honoring Christopher Columbus, who treated Native Peoples cruelly and inhumanely, and move to a place of honoring Native Peoples.
Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in your church is an opportunity to retell the story of the settling of the Americans and to continue the work of repentance and healing. Let us re-purpose this holiday to honor Native Peoples.
Click here for a liturgy to use on Sunday, Oct. 9 of this year.