Columbus Day

We Christians will not experience a reorientation of our identity until we are willing to go through a profound thinking of our history. We will never truly deal with the worst parts of our history by denying or minimizing them, but only by facing them honestly, humbly, and fully. That is what the Bible calls repentance.
In Kent Nerburn’s “Wolf at Twilight,” a Lakota elder powerfully articulates to a young Caucasian writer what historical repentance looks like: “When you look at black people, you see ghosts of all the slavery, and the rapes and the hangings and the chains. When you look at Jews, you see ghosts of all those bodies piled up in death camps. And those ghosts keep you trying to do the right thing.” But the stories of the Native Peoples are still minimized and marginalized, he explains, so “when you look at us, you don’t see the ghosts of the little babies with their heads smashed in by rifle butts at the Big Hole, or the old folks dying by the side of the trail on the way to Oklahoma* while their families cried and tried to make them comfortable, or the dead mothers at Wounded Knee or the little kids at Sand Creek who were shot for target practice.” Until we hear those stories and feel their import, the Lakota elder suggests, others remain the other, not us, their kind, not our kind…. But if we bring our secrets into the light, according to the Good News we proclaim, we can be redeemed, re-identified ….” (79-80)

I devote a chapter in my new book to Columbus (Chapter 9). That’s the source of the quote above.
*If you haven’t seen Randy Woodley’s piece on the Trail of Tears, be sure to check it out here: