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In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program
Participants discuss social justice issues affecting Native American peoples and consider ways to support the efforts of local Native American groups.
Remind the youth that Lydia Maria Child made advocating for Native Americans a priority in her later life. Explain, in these words or your own:
Now, more than a hundred years later, Native Americans are still marginalized in American society. As a group, Native Americans suffer high levels of poverty, illness, addictions, poor education, and reduced life expectancy. Efforts to solve these problems have had limited success. For many years the efforts were focused on making American Indians as much like white people as possible, encouraging or even forcing them to reject their native cultures, languages, and religions. Since about the 1970s, there has been a higher level of consciousness about respecting the identity and rights of self-determination of the many Native American tribes in the United States. This positive development grew out of the successes of the African American Civil Rights Movement and the civil rights efforts of Native Americans themselves, such as the work of the American Indian Movement. The current plight of Native American cultures results largely from the abuses of white people (European settlers and their migration westward across the continent) and the actions and policies of the United States government in its efforts to annihilate or assimilate (absorb) Native Americans.
Distribute Handout 5, Unitarians Worked to "Save" Ute Indians. Have participants read the story. Then, lead a discussion:
Lead the group to brainstorm actions they could take to help. Suggest that educating ourselves is a first step, and educating others could be the next— perhaps by sharing the history in Handout 5 with the congregation. Challenge the youth to think of a creative way to share this story. Commit to arranging with congregational leaders for the youth to present the story as part of a worship service or at another multigenerational gathering.
Encourage the group to learn the history of Native people in your own area. Could the youth work with others in the congregation to support a local Native community's justice-seeking efforts?
Share the books and other resources you have gathered. Invite youth to jot down titles they find interesting, so they can find the books at the local library. Point them to the Internet for more information.
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Last updated on Monday, October 31, 2011.
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