Lessons Learned on July 4th, 2020 – Part II

We are meditating on July 4th, 2020. The chairman of the Lakota nation asked the president not to come to sacred Lakota grounds and not to spread the coronavirus.  His requests were ignored.  Numbers of indigenous peoples protesting non-violently near the event were carted off to jail.  All this underscores the other shadow besides slavery in American history:  The trampling of the indigenous peoples and the stealing of their lands. 

Several groups led by Native American activists protested in South Dakota on Friday as US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visit the state for an Independence Day celebration event at Mount Rushmore. Video from Bloomberg QuikTake News.

All this history was reinforced by the president’s words guaranteeing more domination will come and statues of previous heroes of the confederacy ought to remain where they are.

An American president seems to be more and more claiming title to being president of the confederacy—in 2020.  Is he imagining himself riding the ranges to pursue goals of keeping white people and white supremacy elevated forever amidst statues of confederate heroes—all of whom are traitors to the country at large—eternally in place? 

Such a president may be doing all of us a big favor by laying out cold the real ‘value system’ behind a political party (whose leaders still support him fiercely) that is more committed to racism and the squelching of voting rights and the denial of climate change and the denial of coronavirus than it is to the promise of the constitution. 

A young Tarahumara girl selling baskets and jewellry in the Copper Canyon. Photo by Ruth Hazlewood on Unsplash.

People who march are reminding us all of that promise for which we celebrate July 4.

The most famous and powerful reality TV star in the world, now a failing president, is teaching everyone how deeply racism still lurks in the human heart and the many institutions of a country that was asleep to much of its shadow-filled history until he came along and took the lid off and shed light on the true state of the American union.

The tearing down of the Serra statues in San Francisco and beyond bears witness to the greater truth of the concentration camps that “saint” Serra erected 150 years ago to enslave native peoples of California.  A reality that has been covered up for hundreds of years with sentimental postcards of restored missions and narratives of his saving Indians on behalf of a perverse version of Christianity foisted on indigenous peoples the world over in the name of empire and cross.

As tribal governments call on President Trump to cancel his Mount Rushmore Independence Day celebration, we look at why Native Americans have long pushed for the removal of the monument carved into the sacred Black Hills and designed by a sculptor with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. From Democracy Now!

One way to move beyond this perverse history toward indigenous peoples is for Pope Francis, whose words about honoring indigenous cultures are often very lofty, to immediately denounce the Document of Discovery foisted on the world by two popes in the late fifteenth century that in effect justified the taking of slaves from Africa and the genocide toward indigenous peoples the world over. 

A public burning of that document is long overdue.  For the pope to do so in the public square of the Vatican and beam this event around the world would be a good beginning to reconciliation.  That and asking a genuine apology.

See Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest, pp. 192, 224, 443f.

Banner Image: Indigenous peoples lead demonstration on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C. Photo originally posted to Flickr by Mobilus in Mobili.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you know about the Doctrine of Discovery?  What are you doing to pressure the Vatican to finally denounce it?

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6 thoughts on “Lessons Learned on July 4th, 2020 – Part II”

  1. Avatar
    Isabelle Alice Claps

    This 4th of July has been so hard. It took me a while to recognize that what I was feeling was deep, searing grief entangled with guilt. I did not celebrate in any fashion, rather I stayed home, puttered and reflected on what I felt and the history of racism and dominance in my country, the USA. I traveled back in time, the founders of my nation were behaving badly by today’s yardstick, yet they were in line with their contemporaries/peers. The history of Europe is rife with domination, exploitation, slavery. The history of the exploration of the globe is filled with domination, exploitation, slavery. And this led me to put a huge weight of responsibility on the Roman Catholic Church. I feel affirmed to learn of this horrific document and pray and support a huge, public, globally streamed destruction of it and condemnation of its intent. I am on a journey of discovery, not always something to celebrate, and you have been a great guide. Thank you.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Isabella, you are right to point out that some of the founders of our nation did behave badly and so has the Church as well, but we need not be discouraged because of the spiritual guidance of people like Matthew Fox. Follow him on the four paths of Creation Spirituality and life, for that matter. As you follow you will know awe and wonder, pain and suffering, creatvity and transformation of self and society.

  2. Avatar

    I am also not a Roman Catholic but would take action against this reprehensible policy if I knew how.

  3. Matthew Fox

    The canonization of Serra will go down in history as the worst event by far of Pope Francis’s papal tenure. Now is the time to speak up and speak out about this patron saint of inquisitors (he was one), of racists, of colonialists, of chieftains of concentration camps–for that is what he created in the California missions. It’s long past time to take a stand against sadism in the name of religion. Please consider adding your voice to any or all of these petitions:
    Governor Gavin Newsom: Replace U.S. Capitol’s Serra Statue with Native Leader: https://act.faithfulamerica.org/sign/serra-statue-capitol/
    Native Americans’ Petition to Pope Francis to Revoke Doctrine of Discovery: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/doctrine-of-discovery
    Change.org Petition to Pope Francis: Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery: https://www.change.org/p/the-vatican-time-for-the-vatican-to-apologise-repudiate-the-doctrine-of-discovery

  4. Avatar

    Matthew, I thank you for your voice and for elevating this whole issue to my consciousness. In the last few days, I have been quite troubled, have been doing more reading about this document. My whole understanding has shifted in a monumental way which I cannot put into words. Thank you for lifting this up, and for your recommendations on what to do next.

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