E Ala E Mural At East Shore

E Ala E Mural At East Shore

East Shore is blessed to receive and display the “E Ala E” Mural in the Sanctuary. It is the culmination of a collaborative process between Guatemalan Social Artist, Melanie Schambach, and hundreds of contributors across the country. East Shore members and friends painted parts of the Mural as it accompanied the Red Road to DC Totem Pole journey over the summer, 2021.

We invite you to view the Mural accompanied by photographs and explanatory materials in the Sanctuary. The mural will be on display at East Shore through October, 2022. Don’t miss it!

For more information about the project as a whole, go to Melanie Schambach’s website: https://www.melanieschambach.com/redroad-e-ala-e-mural

For those who would like to try their hand at coloring some of the images, please note that Melanie has generously offered a free coloring book and coloring sheets available at her website: melanieschambach.com/ealaedownloads.

Supreme Court’s impact on Indian Country

Supreme Court’s impact on Indian Country

The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade has so many of us questioning the wisdom of our current Supreme Court. Their overturning of settled law in this, and other instances, threatens the hard-won freedoms for all Americans. It has also had unsettling impacts on some of the most marginalized in our country – the American Indian. Settled Law has always been touch-and-go in this arena and it is apparent we are in for more changes.

The U. S. government has a long and evolving history regarding its treatment of tribal nations and their sovereignty. Numerous treaties were made, and subsequently broken, by the federal government as it exchanged forced moves to reservations for the right of tribes to hold lands and hunting/fishing rights.

During the 1800s the federal government attempted to solve what it termed the “Indian Problem” as settlers continually moved west, encroaching into Native American land. One solution, The Dawes Act of 1887, authorized the president to “grant” a standard acre allotment to individual tribal members from tribal lands that were held in common. This acreage was to be held by individuals for 25 years before it could be sold to the highest bidder. However, the Dawes Act resulted in unallocated lands that the federal government sold to whites. The “granted” lands and the for-sale lands were checkerboarded together as a means to break up tribal cohesiveness. In addition, the “granted” lands were sometimes held by Indians unable to pay the taxes, so they lost their allotted lands.

In addition to the problems of land and tribal sovereignty, poverty reigned in Indian Country. Another factor was education of tribal children and forced boarding schools that began in 1860 with the first school being located on the Yakama Reservation. Some of these schools were run by Unitarians. One such example was a boarding school on the Crow reservation in Montana called the “Montana Industrial School for Indians” or “Bond’s Mission School.” In 1928, 41 years after the Dawes Act was implemented, the Meriam Report (official title: The Problem of Indian Administration) demonstrated the failed policies of the federal government about how it dealt with its “Indian Problem”. By 1932, fully two thirds of the land belonging to Indigenous people in 1887 was now owned by whites. In 1953, House Concurrent Resolution 108 gave Indians one-way tickets to low paying jobs in big cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle and New York. A large population shift occurred so that now more Indians live in the city than live on reservations.

In response to the failures pointed out in the Meriam Report, the Wheeler-Howard Act of 1934 (or the Indian Reorganization Act) was put into place allowing tribes to be self-governing if they chose. Some Washington State tribes that immediately opted in were the Colville, the Shoalwater, the Spokane, the Lummi, the Chehalis, and the Yakama Nations. This decision, until recently, has been a supporting factor in the federal government’s legal view of Indigenous lands. While it has been challenged (remember Billy Frank, the Fish Wars and the Boldt decision?), the Wheeler-Howard Act has held until recently. The US Supreme Court, in the Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerto decision this summer, has granted the State of Oklahoma the right to prosecute non-Indians doing harm to Indians on Indian reservations in Eastern Oklahoma. Before the decision, tribal police had jurisdiction.

Tribal entities, for example the Cherokee Nation, have poured millions of dollars into their police. Those police cooperate with local, state and federal governments, but they have had jurisdiction of all people on Indian lands. The Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerto decision directly threatens the sovereignty of Indian Country again.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was quoted in a recent Seattle Times as writing, “’As a matter of state sovereignty, a State has jurisdiction over all of its territory, including Indian Country.” In this statement, Kavanaugh discounted the court’s landmark Worcester v. Georgia decision of 1832, which held that tribal lands were separate from the states, describing that stance as outdated. In his dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch “wrote that Worcester v. Georgia correctly established that tribes retain their sovereignty unless and until Congress says otherwise.”

Today, I am writing about another decision on the Supreme Court docket for October. The case, Brakeen vs. Haaland (formerly Brakeen vs. Bernhardt) is being brought by the states of Texas, Indiana, and Louisiana. It alleges the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is unconstitutional. That Act says Indian children in distress are to be left with responsible family members or in the tribal community for their welfare. The concept is an attempt to stop some state agencies from taking Indian children and putting them in the care of white families. Reservations do not have Child Protective Service functions and without the ICWA, children become vulnerable to removal from their family’s home. Forty-three years as settled law, the ICWA keeps Indigenous children connected to their community and culture.

Madonna Thunder Hawk of the Lakota Law Center warns the Supreme Court is committed to undermining both individual and Indigenous sovereignty: “Their deliberations continue to rob Indigenous autonomy and self determination by taking away the very protections that shelter our young ones.” Local tribal law experts agree with her.

In 2018, a District Court in Texas found the ICWA unconstitutional. The federal government and four intervening tribal nations had that decision reversed in 2019. In April, 2020, a review was issued that brought into question the definition of “Indian Child” and also found certain sections of ICWA to be unconstitutional. In September, 2021, the Department of Justice, the State of Texas, the intervening tribal nations (including the local Quinault Tribe) and several individual plaintiffs, all formally asked the Supreme Court to look at it. Since that request, the Oklahoma v. Castro-Heurto decision has sent shockwaves throughout Indian Country as settled law no longer seems to be sacred to the Supreme Court. They fear once again they will be losing their children.

Our local tribes are asking we vote for pro-sovereignty law-makers in upcoming local and congressional elections. We, as Unitarians, aren’t responsible for what Unitarians did to Indian children in the past, but we can be accountable to support them and our local indigenous populations now.

by Maury Edwards, on behalf of Indigenous Connections Team members (a sub-group of the Eighth Principle Ministry Team)

Indigenous Connections Update: Honoring Se Sealth

Indigenous Connections Update: Honoring Se Sealth

Over the May 28th weekend, an honoring ceremony for Lummi Elder & Carver, Se Sealth (Jewell Praying Wolf James), was held at the longhouse (Wexliem Community Center) on Lummi grounds near Bellingham. As an attorney and activist, Mr. James has been a leader nationally and internationally in securing treaty rights, protecting the environment and ensuring sovereignty for native American tribes. As head of the House of Tears Carvers and a long-time leader of the Lummi Indian Nation, he launched a series of Totem Pole Journeys beginning in 2002 to bring awareness and build community ties within and between indigenous and non-indigenous communities. Jewell James carved the “Red Road to DC Totem Pole” (RR2DC) that made its way to East Shore on July 11th last year. It subsequently traveled through 26 states to Washington DC where it was gifted to the Biden administration.

Several East Shore members volunteered to help the Lummi hosts prepare for the arrival of four canoe families and land protectors as part of the “Gathering of the Eagles” (Esqalph etse Kwelengsen), a week-long healing canoe journey to the San Juan islands for indigenous communities, held prior to the Honoring Ceremony. We prepared and served food to several hundred guests over two days, helped secure arriving canoes, and five ESUC members attended the honoring potlatch as representatives of East Shore. On behalf of our congregation, we presented Mr. James with two enlarged, framed photographs showing two RR2DC stops—one at East Shore and the other at Pike Place Market. We raise our hands to Jewell James and the Lummi for their leadership in advocating for the Salish Sea, orcas and salmon, the Snake and Columbia rivers and all life in the Pacific NW and Turtle Island!

This latest totem pole created by Jewell James represents Tahlequah, the orca who carried her dead calf for 17 days for 1,000 miles. Our resident orcas face likely extinction due to starvation if the Lower Snake dams are not breached soon to revive the salmon runs on the Snake and Columbia Rivers on which they depend. This totem pole highlights how the health of the Salish sea depends on healthy river systems and is part of a current campaign to mobilize political support for breaching the dams.

Carrie and Marilyn in the Wexliem Community kitchen with the cooks, Tina, Dori and George.

Securing the Chief Leschi family canoe (Puyallup) as they arrive on Lummi shores from the San Juan

by Marilyn Mayers

Red Road Mural Coloring Book

Red Road Mural Coloring Book

I wanted to share with the congregation the publication of the Red Road Mural coloring book. I feel tremendously grateful and blessed to have been invited to participate in the creation of such a beautiful expression of communal solidarity and interconnectedness. Now there are interactive tools available to make the stories in the coloring book and the communities represented come alive.

You can print the book at www.melanieschambach.com/ealaedownloads

You can can learn more about each individual image’s stories and the process as a whole at www.melanieschambach.com/redroad-e-ala-e-mural.

by Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlssidis Burgoa

Memorial Day Statement

Memorial Day Statement

This Memorial Day we are in mourning for too many. The first Memorial Day was held in Charleston SC in 1865 by former slaves to honor the Union soldiers who had freed them from chattel slavery, one of America’s original sins. This May 25 marked the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, one of many who have died unnecessarily at the hands of the police, an example of the racism embedded in our culture for over 400 years, which we have committed to work to dismantle.  We are mourning the mass murder in Buffalo, and now the mass murder of elementary school children and teachers in Uvalde, TX.  We are in mourning for America’s ongoing repeated mass murders and gun violence, and mindful that this nation stands out in the world for this reason.  We call on the U.S Senate to take action and pass gun violence legislation. That is clearly the will of the people, who want to protect our children.   We re-commit to doing what each and all can do to end gun violence and to protect children and the vulnerable and marginalized from violence and violation.  Each is a spark of the divine, and the hope and light of the world.  We do this best, together in the community of communities.


This Memorial Day we are in mourning for too many.  East Shore Unitarian Church will welcome our congregation and community to mourn with us this Memorial Day. All ages are invited to attend this time together. We will hold an interfaith vigil at East Shore Unitarian Church at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 30 for our soldiers, our murdered brethren, children, and against the culture of racism and gun violence. Join in person (masks required) or via Zoom Meeting 892 3341 3265, Passcode: Memorial


We Must Confront And Dismantle White Supremacy

We Must Confront And Dismantle White Supremacy

In response to the tragic shooting in Buffalo, NY, the East Shore Unitarian Church reaffirms its commitment to anti-racism and calls on the United States to confront its racist history and dismantle white supremacy.

Statement approved by the Board, May 19, 2022


To read the full statement from the UUA, click here.