November 27, 2009

Lenape tribe, Collegiate Church reconcile

NYC Protestant church apologizes to Native Americans for how they were treated 400 years ago

By Verena DobnikMembers of one of America's oldest Protestant churches officially apologized Friday—for the first time—for massacring and displacing Native Americans 400 years ago.

"We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land," the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides. "With pain, we the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events."

The minister spoke on Native American Heritage Day at a reconciliation ceremony of the Lenape tribe with the Collegiate Church, started in 1628 in then-New Amsterdam as the Reformed Dutch Church.

The rite was held in front of the Museum of the American Indian in lower Manhattan, where Dutch colonizers had built their fort near an Indian trail now called Broadway, just steps away from Wall Street.
Comment:  In July, the Episcopal Church repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. But this may be the first Christian church to formally apologize--not counting the Catholic Pope's non-apology "apology."

True, apologies don't mean much unless they're matched by concrete action. But as an indicator of change--a measure of what people are thinking and feeling--they're worth noting.

For more on the subject, see Mormons Won't Apologize to Indians and Bishop Apologizes to Miwoks.

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