Today in Sara Bessey’s 40 Simple Practices for Lent, she invites participants to go to Native-Land.ca and educate ourselves about the Land we live on.
For me this is a reminder of a few things:
(1) Who owns the Land? We seem to think we own it if we bought our house or our landlord if we rent. A person owns the land we live on. This is a Western mindset. It is one set upon domination and individualism vs stewardship. We go back to Genesis 2 and say, “God told us to have dominion over the land and rule it.” That is not what God said. God was inviting humanity to be caretakers, stewards of the Land; to recognize that the Land was gift from God, belongs to God our Creator. We are gifted with it for our lifetime, our time of ‘ownership.’ We do not own the Land. It belongs solely to the Creator of this Universe, to the Sacred, to God.
The Jubilee year in the Hebrew Bible brings that forth. Every 500 years the Land went back to its original owner, all debts forgiven, the slate wiped clean, a new start. A gift from God.
Who owns the Land? This question brought forth for me my childhood education in public school on the east coast. We learned all about the Pilgrims and how they came ashore. We learned how generous the Native Americans were, how they shared their land and food with the English. Never in my elementary school or public school teachings were we taught that the English stole the land from the Natives. They took ownership, a concept that Native Americans did not have at that time. They then kicked the Native Americans off their Land.
When we think about Land ownership we are being asked to remember privilege and racism and how those two came together to suppress and oppress the Native population, bringing some tribes close to extinction/genocide. It is important, at least for me, to use the word genocide. The Trail of Tears and other historical moments of ‘moving’ natives to more appropriate lands was steeped in racism and as effort to rid the US of the Native population (genocide).
As we think about the history of the Land we are on, it is important to acknowledge the pain, the oppression, the injustice, the theft that happened, especially here in the US. No land in the United States was acquired other than through stealing, taking, privilege.
As a white American my heritage is filled with moments like this. Although I myself did not do the action, I am benefitting centuries later from the actions of my historical people. For me, as I contemplate the Land I live on, the Petroglyphs and their ancient historical value as a trade route, I recognize the harm done by White Man and how that harm continues today — to Land and to the Native population. I confess to the Sacred the role of White Man asking that not to be my experience, my expression of my own whiteness.
Today, I honor this Sacred Land I live on. It is Sacred. The Petroglyphs have a powerful place in the history of the Native Cultures. It saddens me when I walk through this Sacred Land and notice defacing of Petroglyphs, defacing and marking up of rocks as if the person was trying to make their own. I witness how privilege, disregard for the Sacredness of Land, this white heritage continues to cause harm.
I weep in my heart of hearts, crying out to the Sacred for transformation, for healing of this wound hundreds of years old.
I weep for this Land who has lost its practice, its role in the life of its people.
I weep for the people, the Pueblos who have lost their land so that we could creat Albequerque.
And I hope that one day each person’s heart will be transformed and see the Sacredness of the Land all around them.
I hope that one day each person’s heart will be aligned and aware that the only Owner of this Land is our Creator.
May we all take time to learn about the Land we live on.
May we all take time this day to honor its heritage, to honor those who lived upon it before us — its ancestors.
May we all take time this day to offer a gift, an offering, a prayer of healing to the Land we live on.
May we all take time to thank our Creator for this beautiful creation.
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.