Land Acknowledgment Activities 2022
Priorities for land acknowledgment activities in fall 2022 were recognizing the continuing effects of unjust treatment of Indigenous Peoples, hearing Indigenous voices, and including youth and adults in activities and as presenters. Sharon Hoogstraten‘s portraits of contemporary Potawatomi dancers invited the congregation to engage in four Sundays of activities.
On September 18, the topic of reparations for past injustice was introduced in morning worship with a sermon by Karl Shelly. In a Second Hour video presentation, Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs of the Mohican Nation expanded on the biblical and theological foundations for reparations to Indigenous Peoples and challenged Christians to respond.
The following Sunday, Anna Paetkau shared learnings from the Climate Riders’ encounter with Cheyenne People in Wyoming. In the afternoon, about thirty youth and adults biked to local sites of Indigenous history with guidance from Rich Meyer and Luke Gascho. To connect with contemporary realities, participants learned of the steps taken by Goshen Community Schools and Bethany Christian Schools to replace offensive Indian-themed mascots.
On October 2, the Connections Class confronted the continuing trauma of the Potawatomi Trail of Death in a documentary featuring Kelli Mosteller and exhibits at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center in Shawnee, OK. After lunch, a group of twelve Eighth Streeters and sixteen from five other Mennonite congregations traveled by church bus to Twin Lakes, IN. From the Chief Menominee monument, the pilgrims followed the route that the Potawatomi People were forced to walk from northern Indiana to Kansas in 1838. At sites on the first two days of that historic trek, participants joined in lament, “Standing where you walked, we remember you….We lament that our ancestors did not dwell in peace.”
On October 9, Goshen College track and cross-country athletes shared their summer learnings on Apache sacred land in Oak Flat, Arizona. Confronted by the imminent destruction of this land for a copper mine, the students invited us to join an Apache-led initiative of prayer and movement to protect the sacred land. Eighth Street signed an Amicus Brief in support of the Apache case which is on appeal in federal court.
The fall series concluded that afternoon with a benefit concert by the men’s ensemble, Open Fifths. Over four thousand dollars was sent to the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery for the support of new Executive Director Sarah Augustine.
As a member of the Coalition’s Repair Network, Eighth Street is committed to moving beyond education on Indigenous concerns toward reparative justice. Sixty percent of Eighth Street’s budgeted donation to the Coalition supports the annual Indigenous Repair Partner, Apache Stronghold in 2022-23.
Donations of $3,246 to the October Shalom Gift were sent to the Bodéwadmi-Myaamia Trail marking project. These funds will be used to maintain the informational website and to create signage marking locations on a trail used by Indigenous Peoples through what is now Elkhart County. According to the 1830 surveyor’s map of Elkhart County, the trail passed about fifty yards east of the current church parking lot.