Native Americans, the Mainline Church, and the Quest for Interracial Justice
Mainline Protestant denominations in the United States have apologized to Native Americans for their anti-Indian past, rejected the use of negative and demeaning Indian stereotypes, renounced the historic mission to “civilize and Christianize” indigenous peoples, and repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. But do these bold actions mean that the mainline church is prepared to stand in deep solidarity with Native Americans in their quest for self-governance?
In this timely book Dr. Hansen argues that refusing to continue past patterns of Christian conquest is only the beginning of a new Christian quest for interracial justice. Now Christians must take responsibility for helping to create a people-oriented society in which we are all minorities. We have been hampered in this effort by the lack of an adequate model for interracial justice. Adapting a four-part model for interracial justice developed by legal scholar Eric K. Yamamoto, Hansen divides his book into four sections: recognition, responsibility, reconstruction, and reparation. In Part One, recognition, he examines the roots of Christian anti-Indianism and its consequences. In Part Two, responsibility, he argues that postcolonial Christians must learn to read the exodus story with “Canaanite eyes,” and to do theology from the underside of history. Part Three, reconstruction, offers an analysis of the mainline church's apology to Native Americans and United Church of Canada apology to First Nations People, and compares them.In Part Four, reparations, he argues that Christians committed to interracial justice must use an economic model that values human well-being over short-term profits, and adopt a theology of the land that values people over private property.Then, and only then, will the church be ready to stand in deep solidarity with Native Americans in what is one of the most important civil rights movement of today--the drive for self-governance in Indian America.
Having taught and worked cross-culturally in South Dakota for many years, it is clear to me that the
greatest obstacle to human progress everywhere is the failure to understand historical and
contemporary contexts. This exceptional book provides those contexts remarkably well and argues
compellingly for right action, speaking to the hearts and minds of people of all faith traditions. It
should be required reading in seminaries and university courses and highly recommended to all
Charles L. Woodard
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English
South Dakota State University
A truly significant book. A wonderful accomplishment that promises to make a real contribution.
Eric K. Yamamoto
Professor of Law
William S Richardson School of Law
Univeristy of Hawaii, Manoa
David Hansen knows the white mainline church well enough to know that we have some confessing to do. At the top of the list is our shameful treatment of Native Americans, which is inseperable from our understanding of Protestant Christianity
Robin R Meyers
Senior Minister, Mayflower Congregational UCC Church
Distinguished Professor of Social Justice
Oklahoma City University