Truth-Telling Initiative on Native American Issues
The Northwoods UU Fellowship is working to combat discrimination toward Native Americans, a serious problem in our state (and our nation). That discrimination rests on centuries of social, political, economic, and legal traditions that have ranged from a disregard for the rights of Native peoples to outright genocide. Yet most Minnesotans lack a basic knowledge of the history of discrimination that continues into the present day. In our society’s origin stories, Europeans’ and European-Americans’ actions are glorified, and the conquest and murder of Native peoples are explicitly or implicitly justified, devaluing the lives and cultures of all Native people. NUUF seeks to challenge those stories and to tell the truth about the discrimination in our past and in the present day. Without truth-telling, reconciliation and the elimination of racism will continue to elude us.
Over the past several years, NUUF members have worked to combat discrimination against Native Americans through truth-telling activities, including encouraging the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and promoting the change of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. These efforts began in 2011 with the congregation’s “Resolution on the Condition of the Original Native American People,” in which members pledged to “acknowledge the wrongs done, past and present, to the Indigenous Peoples of North America…[and to] to tell the truth to current and future generations through the dissemination of accurate historical materials about Native American losses, which are both historical and ongoing….[and] to right current and previous wrongs, including economic redress; and to work toward a future of equal rights and opportunities.”
Since 2011, the congregation has worked to raise awareness and educate the public through a host of different measures, including the creation of an audio program on the Doctrine of Discovery (broadcast on KAXE community radio and disseminated on CD); sponsoring visits by Native American storyteller Anne Dunn at a local school; distribution of relevant books to local libraries and schools; creation of the “Traveling Truth Telling Tour,” a collection of books by Native authors that was made available for periods of time to multiple churches and libraries around Minnesota; support for Native environmental efforts; and the Goodbye Columbus initiative.
The congregation’s most recent effort in this area is “Goodbye Columbus,” a campaign to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day in the State of Minnesota. This campaign is intended to be a vehicle for changing the stories we tell about our history as a state, in order to combat the racism prevalent in many areas. As part of this initiative, congregation members created the “Goodbye Columbus” website (http://www.goodbyecolumbus.org) and Facebook page to improve visibility and raise awareness; communicated with state legislators on multiple occasions about HF 1858, a bill to establish American Indian and Indigenous Peoples Day; created and distributed relevant bumper stickers; networked with other racial justice organizations; presented on the issue at other churches; and created and disseminated a draft resolution for March 2016 caucuses. This was passed in precinct caucuses in multiple counties around the state and was included in the DFL’s 2016-2017 Action Agenda. The congregation continues to work on this initiative. For more information or to participate in these efforts, please contact us
The Northwoods UU Fellowship has adopted a section of Minnesota State Highway 87 since 1991, doing annual roadside clean-ups.