Thursday, November 19, 2009
A Program on Racism in American Indian History at Native American Fellowship
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Anti-Racism Native American Style
When Peggy and Larry Larney came to Tinney Chapel tonight it was to present the Native American version of the North Texas Conference Anti-Racism Team’s signature story of institutional racism in the cultural DNA of America.
Institutional racism is defined as racial prejudice coupled with a misuse of power by institutions, which may include the government or even the church.
This is a story that’s difficult to digest unless you have already heard the Anti-Racism Team’s two-day account of America’s systemic racism directed to other minorities, especially African-Americans.
Both stories begin with the premise that America was actually invaded, not “discovered,” by Columbus and the European colonists who followed him. There is one unsettling difference in the Native American account, which is characterized as a campaign of annihilation and genocide, fueled largely by a lust for the land that once belonged to the Native Americans whose concept of ownership was radically different.
Included is an account of some 371 treaties between America and the Native Americans, not one of which has been fully met. In short, this is a story of an entire population that was, over time, deceived, defeated and disenfranchised from its own culture in the name of America’s dream of Manifest Destiny.
In this story, time is not on the side of the Native Americans, who are eventually reduced to a struggle for survival, an abyss from which they only begin to emerge and regain some of their pride and heritage, along with a modicum of dignity, when they manage to piggy-back on the success of other minority protests.
But, Peggy Larney cautions that the fight is far from over, as Native Americans must continue to be vigilant against efforts by the government and others to reduce the benefits that still remain for Native Americans.
The Larneys say that the Native American Fellowship organization is unique in the North Texas Methodist Conference, and urged members not to lose heart in the continuing battle for justice.
The Larneys point to several sources of research, including the book, Giving Our Hearts Away, by Thom White Wolf Fassett, a publication of the United Methodist Women (1-800-305-9857 or http://www.missionresourcecenter.org/wdstore/resources/GivingOurHeartsAway_update.pdf
Peggy Larney is a full blood Choctaw, originally from Oklahoma, but who has lived in Dallas since the 1960s and who worships at Tyler Street UMC in Oak Cliff. Larry Larney is a full blood Seminole, also originally from Oklahoma.
While tonight’s message was not pleasant, it is not an unfamiliar one to members of Native American Fellowship (NAF), which meets every third Thursday in the Family Life Center of Tinney Chapel UMC, 449 County Road 4620, Winnsboro, TX 75494.
Ronny Ellison (903-365-2427) is the founder and President of NAF.