SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Respect and Tolerance for Native Americans
By Carol Christoffel


September 25, 2008

Thank God for the beginning of the truth-telling by Mr. Hoff and Mr. Giago. There is a great myth laced with misunderatanding and racism, that underlines much modern day Christian theroy. Many will claim that they are "sharing" as in dialoge, but really it is a monologe, as they are completely unable to acknowledge the gifts of another culture while dwelling on it's shortcommings.

Much of what some extremists are preaching from the pulpit about is ego-based and self-serving. Many think they need to "guide" the congregation on voting issues and have positioned themselves to be "kingmakers". Christ did not practice "kingmaking" or regime changes.

This country was based as much on Native contributions as it was on anything else. On the East coast the Natives had a great council of peace for close to 500 years. Our nation, a mere 200 years has been frought with conflict and it is getting more and more frequent.

Though Benjamin Franklin, our founding father, did not like Native Americans, he was impressed with the Great Peace lodge,(which was very democratically run) and adopted the Eagle holding sticks from it, changing the boughs of cedar to olive branches to "westernize" it. You can see the seal everyday on a quarter.
Most of the churches have done a great job of hiding the truth and silencing the victims of abuse. I estimate a good 70-80% of the Native Elders that I have met have witnessed or been victim to beatings, starvation, and sexual abuse in the Church-run schools both here and in Canada.

There is one big difference. Canada like Australia has acknowledged the abuse of aboriginal people and has apologized for it, while here in the United States, we deny it took place.(Canada's apology was early June of this year carried all over Canadian television, but only on N.P.R here.)

In 1994 or thereabouts Native Americans won the right to worship in thier own way. Despite this there has been and remains signifigant harassment of traditionals.

While it is true at some times some tribes engaged in bad cultural practices (because they stumbled on the path the Creator made for them), it is unfair to label and judge them by this.

Christianity has during its corrupt days in Medieval Europe, openly persecuted Muslims and Jews (who were thought to have secret horns of the Devil on thier heads, concealed by the tiny boxlike hat) and at a later date, women, herbalists, midwives et.cet. This was illustrated to me by my Jewish Art Proff who always pointed out the tiny horns sculpted into a famouse statue of Moses as evidence of Christian supperstition.Don't believe it?

Try looking for yourself in some art books, try Michelangelo for starters.

Our western society and the Church has sinned aplenty as the late Pope acknowledged. Christian churches especially cults that use the name of Christ are just as likely to do evil(See Yearning for Zion , Guyana, Waco et.cet for starters).

The Christ stated we should not be concerned with the "splinter in our nieghbor's eye, while there is a log to consider in thine own eye"

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

We need to respect the right of people to choose and choose freely, not under threat or pressure. If we want to remain a Democracy, freedome of religion is a must.

We must learn to work together with respect and tolerance and not try to make everyone over in our own Eurocentric ideation. The church has prostituted herself for political and earthly power. The Christian church needs to get back to Christ, his example(living among the poor, sacrificing self for commen good, be willing to glean the scraps left in the fields for the poor instead of living in rich adornments). Only when people can walk the walk and not just "talk" it will the Church have respect.

The Native people deserve an apology in this country also. When we can do that, the blessings will come.


Carol Christoffel
Zion, IL

About: "Travel widely, lived in Ketchikan, work with many tribes. Nurse specializing in environmetal medical issues."

Received September , 2008 - Published September 25, 2008


Related Viewpoints:

letter Religion and Native Americans By Tim Giago

letter Demise of Tlingit Natives is Religion By Don Hoff Jr.

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Ketchikan, Alaska