Minute of Support for Indigenous People

Sunset by Kathy Barnhart

The North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends repudiates the Doctrines of Discovery: the religious basis for European colonization around the world. We acknowledge and regret Friends’ role in the ensuing genocide, land theft, and forced assimilation of the peoples indigenous to this continent, including Friends’ role in operating and legitimizing compulsory schools for Indigenous children. We affirm the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We commit to courageously and compassionately listen and face the learning required to comprehend settler colonialism and establish rapport with Indigenous people. We intend that these relationships will guide us to develop thoughtful, grounded actions to oppose the ongoing systemic dehumanization and material dispossession of the original peoples of the land on which we live and worship. Spirit calls us towards truth, racial healing, and transformation, following the Indigenous wisdom of respect for the earth and all its beings.

We see this Minute as one expression of the 2019 NPYM Uprooting Racism Minute.

We call the Meetings and Worship Groups of NPYM to commit as led, to each of the following actions:

To self-educate about the history of Indigenous life before European contact, the arrival of settler colonial peoples, and the current effects of colonization specific to one’s region. We encourage Friends to compensate Native people who provide us with their expertise, and to learn how to interrupt anti- Indigenous behavior and language.

To self-educate about Quaker involvement in compulsory day and boarding schools for Native children, where language, religious, and cultural assimilation were violently enforced, and where kidnapping, torture, and preventable child death were common. Transgenerational trauma from the violence of coercive family separation and from these schools persists today.

To provide opportunities for collective lamentation: times and/or spaces to acknowledge, grieve, and integrate these truths, with the guidance of Spirit.
To recognize that integrity requires us to uphold the self-determination and sovereignty of Native nations. Friends acknowledge that it is not the place of non-Indigenous people to define or decide the priorities or realities of Indigenous people, and that ‘right relationship’ requires respect for Indigenous people’s autonomy and leadership.

To act in solidarity with the reinvigoration of local Indigenous cultural knowledge and wisdom. For example: language restoration; land, air, water, and wildlife stewardship; food and medicine; wildfire management techniques; spirituality; mental and physical healthcare; programs for youth; and Native-led healing work.

To explore the sources of our properties and wealth, and invest in Native nations or Native-led projects that support Indigenous rights, health, or autonomy. These investments could include sharing property, paying rent as suggested by tribes, or returning the land. Example projects include efforts to protect missing and murdered Indigenous relatives; federal recognition of tribes; supporting
treaty rights; legislation repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery; ecological protection movements like Standing Rock or coal train opposition.

To identify ways in which the commitments made in NPYM Minutes are finding life in our Meetings, within each annual State of the Society report and/or to NPYM’s Anti-Racism Working Group and/or at an event hosted by the NPYM Peace and Social Concerns Committee. By sharing, we expand the collective sense of what is possible.