How Making Friends with Indigenous People Changed My Life

Red Letter Christians | 4/23/2019 | Joshua Grace
smnth28 (Posted by) Level 3
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I’m a Polish-American settler. I didn’t choose the conditions of my birth or my original family. However, I do choose to actively undermine the systems and lies beneath those conditions of various levels of privilege.

Ignorance of our nation’s history, and the systems that our national narrative myth supports, only perpetuate injustice and maintain roadblocks to our greater healing. I was fortunate that in the process, my own Western worldview got challenged and I realized it needed to be overcome. I could not and probably would not have put the work in without supportive community — the Indigenous friends, teachers, and relatives who offered a healing sense of belonging.

Experiences - Relationships - People - Sense - Action

Experiences and relationships with Indigenous people cultivated in me a healthier sense of who I am, who I’m accountable to, and what action I must and want to take. In case you’re wondering, this isn’t a story of “I was stupid and now I’m smart” or “here’s how I got woke way back when.” It’s about the embrace and challenge of overriding my programming, which requires action.

I offer these words from my heart. I hope what I offer speaks to your heart.

Edith - Randy - Woodley - Friends - Months

I first met Edith and Randy Woodley back in 2012 while I was on sabbatical from pastoring. We became friends and a few months later I accepted the invitation to a Master’s degree program through NAIITS, an Indigenous Learning Community. Randy was my program director, professor, mentor, and friend. My first class (Theology & Ethics of the Land) held a retreat on Eloheh Farm in Oregon. My family spent time there together a few years later. We pitched in around the farm, ate food, held ceremony, and became relatives. Being a co-learner (that’s what Randy calls us) in that cohort opened up worlds for me. My best learning always comes through relationships.

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