Doctrine of Discovery Lament at General Convention
By: Sarah Eagle Heart
In 2009, the Episcopal Church became the first church to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery with several churches following our lead, including the World Council of Churches in February 2012. In order to educate our church on resolution D035 “to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery,” this event brought stories of indigenous peoples to churchwide leaders by Indigenous Ministries officer Sarah Eagle Heart, with Social and Economic Justice officer the Rev. Chris Johnson and Lifelong Christian Formation officer Ruth Ann Collins. The story offerings came from several areas of the church to demonstrate how the Episcopal Church’s involvement in the Doctrine of Discovery has led to issues Indigenous people face today.
The event was held in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott hotel in Indianapolis, the same room used for all of the worship at General Convention 2012. However, for the lament, chairs were set up in concentric circles in the middle of the huge room. In the center of the circle was a large table covered in purple cloth and votive candles in thick glass blocks. There were over 200 people sitting around the circle, including five vested bishops, and many other bishops, clergy, and lay people of the church. The six presentations were layered with prayers, scripture reading, songs, silence, and the “drum.” The drum – a group who sings and plays – was the Red Leaf Singers from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. The music team included Ron Braman (Eastern Shoshone), piano and voice; and Hovia Edwards (Shoshone-Bannock), a Grammy-nominated flutist.
Another very important partner in educating the church on the Doctrine of Discovery has been the Native American Council of Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati. Without them, none of this work would’ve been possible.