October flew by and November snuck up quickly. With this new month comes thinking of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas. The end of the semester is on the minds of all students and faculty. Something that is not typically on individual’s minds is National Native American History month (NNAHM) or American Indian History Month (AIHM)—a month about remembering, celebrating and lifting up Indigenous people. It is a whole month devoted to honoring American Indian and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) and the richness of their diverse culture. This month is an opportune time for individuals to educate themselves on the AI/AN culture.
The Bridge Center is doing a book study in honor of this month with Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah’s book, “Unsettling Truths”. A book that reveals the ins and outs of discovery doctrine; how Christians have dehumanized Indigenous people in the past by taking land and saying it was because “God told them to.” Why does this matter? Why is it important? People are made in the image of God which means they have inherent dignity. The doctrine of discovery minimizes a human, a whole people group, really. Unfortunately, most Christians are not very educated, if at all, on this doctrine that the book covers.
The head of this book study, Jillian Simon, advocates that “it is important to continue to choose education even if it takes time and energy.”
Junior, Elena Lee agrees with this and would add that, “learning isn’t confined to the classroom.” Lee goes on, “I have a lot to learn from different authors, perspectives and peers.”
Senior. BreElle Van Zee joined the book study to become more educated on Native American history and to, “get more perspective.” Van Zee would add that she “joins every book study” because it is “such a good learning opportunity.” What does learning have to do with honoring this distinct class of people?
Simon would say that one “way of celebrating the diversity of creation is by learning about culture that is different from one’s own.”
This book study started on the first of November and meets every Wednesday from 7 to 8 p.m. It is not too late to join if you order the book on your own.
However, the book study is not the only way to learn about indigenous people. There is a class offered at NW called “The History of Native Peoples in America” that cover the origin stories of American Indians specifically and their culture, significance and how Christians can minister to that specific group of people. Lee takes this class and enjoys the field trips to the Mankato Pow-wow and the Pipestone National Monument.
The Dutch American History Museum in downtown Orange City offers a Native American exhibit. Grab a friend and a coat and check it out. Speaking of checking
Devil’s Tower, a national monument, holds cultural significance for several Native American Tribes.