Fair Treatment for Native Americans
1998 Action of Immediate Witness
The United States has a unique legal relationship with Indian tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the United States, in treaties, in statutes, in court decisions, and in executive orders. However, the indigenous peoples of the United States continue to suffer grievously from economic, social, political, and spiritual injustice and neglect.
We fully support and encourage President Clinton's Initiative on Race and his call for healing all forms of racial abuse and neglect. Yet at the March 1998 meeting of the Advisory Board for the Initiative on Race in Colorado, the absence of representation by indigenous peoples on the Advisory Board and the reluctance of the Advisory Board and staff to engage the audience in direct dialogue on issues of concern led to Native American protests. These protests not only changed the course of that meeting dramatically, but also led to pressure on the President from many groups and individuals to rethink policy and action toward and on behalf of indigenous peoples.
The 1998 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association regrets the failure of the government of the United States to assert a vigorous and moral leadership in ending colonial practices and systemic, as well as individual, discrimination and abuse toward the indigenous peoples of the United States. The Assembly asks Unitarian Universalists in the United States to take action to urge the United States government to begin a program of reconciliation and renewal by way of the following:
- holding at least one Race Initiative hearing on an Indian reservation prior to the cessation of the current work of the Race Advisory Board;
- setting up a Presidential Commission on Indigenous Race Relations with a Native chair and majority indigenous representation;
- initiating through the Presidential Commission a process for apology, financial reparation, and healing for the historic injustice suffered by indigenous peoples in their relations with the United States government and the other citizens of the United States, finding inspiration in the Canadian government's recent action of apologizing to and allocating funds for its indigenous peoples;
- creating an indigenous desk at the White House to act as a liaison between the administration and indigenous nations; and
- receiving assurance of the President's veto of all legislation that would diminish the sovereignty and religious freedoms of indigenous nations.
The 1998 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association also calls on its member congregations and individuals to share this Action of Immediate Witness with other religious groups in their communities.