Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples: Local Discernment and Action

At New England Friends' Annual Sessions in 2020, we engaged with our need to work in a more focused and intentional way towards right relationship with Indigenous Peoples in our region.

Friends approved forwarding a Letter of Apology to Native Americans as well as a set of recommendations for further action to local meetings for reflection over the coming year, in hope that we may be able to live into full and heartfelt approval of this work at our Sessions in August of 2021. Both documents are available on the engagement resource page here.

Since August 2020, a number of local Friends meetings have begun engaging with the Apology and their own relationship to Indigenous Peoples in their area. Below you will find minutes, statements, and public actions by local meetings which we hope serve as a source of inspiration and fruitful connection.

If your meeting has been engaging with the Apology and would like to share your discernment or actions, please contact the Yearly Meeting Right Relationship Resource Group.

Local Meeting Minutes

Putney (VT) Friends Meeting

Apology to Algonquian Peoples 

November 1, 2020

As beneficiaries of colonization in New England and as members of the Religious Society of Friends in New England, we acknowledge our complicity in the treatment of Algonquian Peoples. We therefore wholeheartedly support the proposed Minute of Apology to the Algonquian Peoples by the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. We will continue as a meeting to discern ways to learn about and deepen our relationships to Native peoples and to make amends where possible and appropriate.

Concord (NH) Friends Meeting

December 13, 2020

Concord Monthly Meeting of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends honors the original inhabitants of this land and we commit ourselves towards both the education and action that will be required to bring ourselves into right relationship with the land on which we meet and the original people whose descendants continue to live among us.

Hanover (NH) Friends Meeting

July 26, 2020

Hanover Friends Meeting acknowledges that we worship, work and live on the homelands of the Abenaki people. We know this truth: that European and American colonial powers and people overran the Abenaki homeland settlements, changed the names of many places, deforested the lands, polluted the waters, and tried at times to extinguish the Abenaki. No full amends can ever be made. From time beyond memory, the Abenaki have been and still are here. We pay our respects to them and to the wisdom of their elders and their culture. May we prove ourselves worthy and faithful friends and allies.

Local Meeting Reflection and Learning

Concord, NH, Friends Meeting

January 24, 2021

On the recommendation of the local Sagamore, Concord Friends read and discussed Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimerer as a way to understand the world view of Native Americans. As the book is subtitled Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, they realized they would learn not only a philosophical approach life but also an approach to Earth care from the Native American perspective. Sara Smith writes, "The reading itself was deeply appealing, and the chance to learn from a new perspective, one that is more wholistic and full of loving care, called to us deeply. Our first meeting was a mix of curiosity from those who were new to the book, and joy of sharing such a meaningful experience by those who were familiar with it. We hope others will read it too. It is rare to find a book so enjoyable and one that is spiritually meaningful in a new way."

Friends Meeting at Cambridge (MA)

November 29, 2020

Cambridge Friends held a forum with the theme How Do We Walk the Talk of Justice: Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. It was presented by Friends for Racial Justice and Peace and Social Justice Witness Committees of Friends Meeting at Cambridge.

Public Action

Northampton (MA) Friends Meeting

December 16, 2020

The clerk of Northampton Friends, of behalf of the meeting, wrote a letter to the local paper asking to change the image on the Massachusetts state flag, which is a sword over the figure of a Native American and the Latin motto which translates to "by the sword we seek peace." See the full letter to the editor here