Episcopalians who are tribal members and supporters of Native people and ministry who feel called by God to honor, learn from, and collaborate with First Nations and indigenous people for the good of the Church and the world around matters of just and informed faith here in the Pacific Northwest.
The First Nations Committee of the Diocese of Olympia carries out, supports, and encourages ministries of education, celebration and presence by and on behalf of the First Peoples of this Diocese, for the good of all people. These celebrations, educational projects and actions of presence and witness are mindful of the contributions, past and present, of the First Peoples among us, including:
An Orientation to the Immediate Creation About Us
Four Directions Prayers
In keeping with an understanding that Christianity does not make sense without strong ties to the gift and sacredness of Creation, a practice of Four Directions Prayers helps us to remind and relocate ourselves in very specific ways each time we gather to pray as Christians. In these prayers, which need to be adjusted for the location in which we pray, we take note of where we are on the planet, and thank God for the particular gifts and peoples who are to the east, south, west and north of us.
A Sense of Communal Practice
Talking Circle (Youth, Elders, and others, together)
In keeping with an understanding that the whole body of Christ includes all the members with our many gifts and needs, a Talking Circle welcomes and honors everyone without distinction, granting a sense of respect and dignity for the words and contributions of the whole group — young, old and in-between. This practice has been shared with many diocesan groups as a way to bring people together across differences.
Links between Honoring, Generosity, and Stewardship
In keeping with the Christian value of stewardship as an expression of faith, many First Peoples have a practice of building bonds of relationship, trust, and mutuality through the giving and receiving of gifts. As signs that serve to help us remember each other and the events we have shared together, the giving and receiving of gifts helps to build up the community and turn material possessions into instruments of generosity and community building.
Participation, planning, and leadership of liturgical celebrations commemorating, (and providing resources for such celebrations for use by others) First Nations Holy Women and Men
David Pendleton Oakerhater, (Cheyenne) Deacon and Missionary, 1931
Enmegahbowh, John Johnson, (Ottawa), Priest and Missionary, 1902
Matoaka, (Pocahontas), 1617 (See her Collect below)
First Nations events, issues, New Jamestown Covenant, (1997) &
Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
Providing a prayer for the use of congregations at the time of the death of John T. Williams
Educational events, and presentations for the people of the Diocese of Olympia, including:
Powwow Etiquette Workshops
These workshops include a three-hour long educational gathering on the morning of some local powwow. In that time we learn something of the differences between First Nations social practices and those found in the wider cultures. Then following the training, we go as a group to a powwow where we are able to observe and participate in another culture and to reflect from a place of Christian faith on why and how that matters.
(Presence) Maintaining relationships and developing contacts locally, regionally and nationally with other Episcopal First Nations people and ministries: including,
In-person visits to various First Nations congregations/ communities around the Diocese, e.g. San Mateo,
Auburn, Nisqually Indian Church, Olympia, and La Iglesia de la Resurrección, Mt. Vernon,
Participation in events at the Chief Seattle Club, Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center, Nisqually Reservation
Active participation at both adult and youth levels for Province VIII, as well as the national WinterTalk gatherings, and the Native Ministries Consortium at the Vancouver School of Theology
We are working on ways to encourage and support new relationships with local tribes on the Olympic Peninsula, collaboration with the First Nations group in the Diocese of Oregon, a presentation to science teachers, and additional powwow etiquette workshops. Our ministries serve as a corollary to the work of dismantling racism by providing practical, hands-on experiences of the powerful role that cultures play in the life of faith. We are seeking additional opportunities to help the people of this Diocese appreciate more deeply what is lost when cultures are destroyed or ignored. Showing the movie “Princess Angeline,” a documentary on the life of Chief Seattle’s granddaughter, and offering a venue for theological reflection on the history of our region is one step in this process.
The Rev. Canon Arienne Davison
Canon for Multicultural Ministries