Methodist Church Takes Another Step Towards Returning the Dakota People’s Sacred Red Rock

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is moving forward with efforts to return the Dakota peoples’ sacred Red Rock, (in Dakota, In-Ya Sha or also spelled Eyah Shaw). It is one small step towards acknowledging the historical trauma and genocide inflicted on Native peoples by the U.S colonial enterprise, one in which the UMC participated.

Early Methodist ministers settled in the area along the Mississippi River near In-Ya Sha. When the Dakota people were exiled after the War of 1862, the Methodists continued preaching there. The rock evolved into a symbol for Methodist church camp. The Red Rock camp name persists today, but the rock itself sits in front of the Newport UMC.

Conversations have percolated for several years about returning In-Ya Sha. This March, Dakota elders made a formal request, asking the UMC to return it. In response, UMC Bishop Bruce Ough promised the church would do so.

Sign next to Eyah Shaw in front of Newport United Methodist Church.

But details needed to be worked out.

In the latest update,  Newport UMC congregational leaders voted in July to honor the Dakota elders’ request, according to a Star Tribune story.  The Dakota people “can and will determine the future location and care of the Red Rock,” the resolution said.

That was a big step, but not the last one. Continue reading

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A Litany for Those Not Ready for Healing

Hundreds of people gathered tonight at Luther Seminary for a Service of Prayer and Lament honoring the life of Philando Castile. After the service, many of those attending walked a mile and a half to the intersection of Larpenter and Hoyt in Falcon Heights where Philando was shot dead by a police officer who had pulled the car over for a broken tail light.

There were many moving parts of the service. One reading in particular spoke to the fact that privileged communities too often want to  jump to an intellectual conversation about healing and reconciliation. They bypass getting in touch with the deep grief of injustice and the stories of those who have been hurt. (We have heard this challenge from Native American leaders, too.)

The reading was called “A Litany for Those Not Ready to Heal,” by Rev. Yolanda Pierce, an Afro Christian scholar. It was a beautiful reading for Philando. It also would be a profound reading for Healing Minnesota Stories to adapt for our work. Here are a few lines.

Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound.

Let us not run to offer a Band Aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction.

Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, …

Instead … let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.

Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage, and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends ….

Click on the link above for the full text. Thank you Rev. Pierce for this wonderful reflection.