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Indigenous People’s Day
Sunday, October 9 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am
Our Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to fully understand the legacy of colonialism, just as it calls us to respect and learn from indigenous peoples and support their struggles for social justice and religious freedom. Join UUs across the United States in honoring Indigenous Peoples Day and celebrating indigenous resistance. Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa will be preaching.
This service contains an interactive Mural Project! You can download and print the coloring pages HERE
How to Attend
We require masks in all buildings. We encourage all in person participants to be vaccinated. Read more about our In Person Guidelines here.
• To virtually attend, please Zoom in using room number 989 3107 9078, passcode: chalice.
• To phone into the service, call 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 989 3107 9078.
For those joining, please mute as soon as you enter the room, so everyone can hear. Please note, the services will be recorded, but at this time, there are no plans to share the recording.
Religious Education for children and youth happens during worship on Sundays. Children and youth arrive in the Sanctuary for the just a little bit and welcome in Sunday with a story and song. Then, they attend their own programs in the Education building. Learn more here!
Download and print today’s coloring pages here.
If you don’t have a chalice, but want to light one, check out our Making a Chalice at Home page.
Both virtual and in person services are followed by coffee hour.
Indigenous People’s Day
Today we commemorate and celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. As Unitarian Universalists, it is important for us to mark this day as a day of resistance and a day to celebrate indigenous people and reaffirm our commitment to the resolutions that we have adopted and make good on our promises to uphold those resolutions as members of the UUA as a liberation movement. As someone with mixed ancestry including Greece and Chile, it is always a blessing to find myself within a community that recognizes the difference between Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day. While serving First Parish in Brookline, I was honored to work side by side with the Mashpee Wampanoag people, in their struggle to have their tribe, their people, recognized as living, existing. Sometimes the struggle is just to be seen and recognized. In California my congregation partnered with the UU church in San Jose to work in solidarity with the Amah Mutsun Tribal band in support of their efforts to stop the desecration of Juristac, their sacred land, threatened by a mining company.
Today, I am proud to belong to this Beloved Community, who is living into our values and going beyond the land acknowledgment to work side by side with our local community indigenous partners, including the Lummi Nation and the House of Tears Carvers in particular. This mural is a testament to what is possible when we collaborate. It is a living work of art, a healing ambassador, a prayer containing the energy and the spark of life of more than 250 people who worked to create it. I was one of those people, not knowing that one day, I would be reunited with this beauty in this sanctuary. For me, it was the first time that I had been invited to share in this way with other indigenous people and allies. When people are of mixed heritage, we often get dismissed as being less than authentic. I have even been asked to produce my membership card proving that part of my indigenous heritage. It is a painful reminder of the Spanish conquest and the centuries of colonization that have forced indigenous communities from our lands, language, culture, religions, and ways of being. AND it is also a reminder that we are still here. We are still breathing, loving, praying, creating beauty, healing, dancing…I am grateful to be in this sanctuary with the mighty trees at my back, whispering in the voice of my ancestors…estamos contigo…no estas sola…we are with you…you are not alone.
For decades, we Unitarian Universalists have expressed our solidarity with indigenous people’s struggles for justice, for land rights, for water rights, and against the desecration of sacred lands.
In 2012 the UUA passed the resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and many of our congregations have moved to establish relationships with Indigenous people since the Water Protector uprising and convergence at Standing Rock in 2016. In 2020, marking the 400th year since the arrival of the Mayflower and the English invasion of Wampanoag territory, UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray convened a task force that worked to center Indigenous voices, counter white supremacist erasure, and lift up Indigenous resilience and resistance at GA. This task force proposed an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) to “Address 400 Years of White Supremacist Colonialism”, which was overwhelmingly passed by congregational delegates.
The Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) calls for congregations to “Research, identify, and acknowledge the Indigenous peoples historically and/or currently connected with the land occupied by congregations, and find ways to act in solidarity with or even partner with Indigenous peoples…Research, acknowledgement and development of relationships and solidarity with Indigenous people are an important part of resisting and countering the ongoing erasure of Indigenous people.”
In Portland in 2015, I was part of the General Assembly opening ceremony welcoming Lummi Nation leaders attended by almost 3,000 people. I was joined by Rev. Clyde Grubbs, Rev. Theresa Soto, Kate Elliot, and Rev. Lisa Huyck. We opened that ceremony with the following invocation and song:
“We gather in the presence of all that is most holy: the sky above us, the bright sun, the moving river, the great mountain, the love that moves in and among us, the Great Spirit of Life that holds all. We gather to bear witness. We gather to offer up our commitments to our beloved planet Earth and all her beings. We gather to make real change.
As we light our chalice, let us receive three breaths together. Breathe in…breathe out. I am here. Breathe in…breathe out. You are there. Breathe in…breathe out. We are together.
Come, let us witness together.”
Five members of the Chinook people of the lower Columbia River area opened the event by singing “The Changer,” a traditional song, whose lyrics can be translated: “Come here this way, Creator, thank you. All will change their minds now.”
Lummi Nation Councilman and treaty rights activist Jay Julius spoke about the ongoing environmental degradation in the Salish Sea, “I want to make it clear that sympathy is not what we seek. Today I hope to provide some inspiration and some courage. My hope is that after today, each of our tomorrows has more purpose.”
Jewell Praying Wolf James, a Lummi Elder and climate justice activist, has led totem pole journeys that carried poles he carved to Native and non-Native communities affected by mining and fossil fuel extraction projects. He said: “We’re here to work together to form an alliance and protect the earth for the next generations,” He also kidded the audience, saying, “I didn’t realize Unitarian Universalism was such an old religion. I thought it was created by hippies. You seem like you love the world, you’re kind of like flower children.”
When it was my turn to speak, I expressed my gratitude: “Councilmember Julius and Elder James, thank you for the gift of your words to us. Let us please take a moment of silence to honor the gift we have received and hold all that has been spoken in gratitude.
Like Lummi Nation, Unitarian Universalists care deeply for the Earth and for all the life that dwells here. Part of our sacred covenant is respect for the interdependent web of life. For decades we have been engaged in many struggles from that deeply spiritual place. Yet we can—and must—do more. As people of faith we need to be leaders in this moral struggle, and that the solutions we work for must be grounded in partnership with front lines communities like Lummi Nation, and their leadership. For too long our movement has looked only at a single piece of the larger puzzle, instead of grounding ourselves in the intersections of environmental degradation with racism, classism, ableism, and more.
Today, we commit to respond in new ways. Today we make new commitments to our Earth, to solidarity, and to collective action.”
I now invite us to recreate that ritual:
We begin with gratitude for the blessings of the direction of East, and the element of Air. Please turn to the person next to you. You are invited to express your love and gratitude for the Earth by completing the phrase “my heart sings when…” Take just a minute each to share “my heart sings when…”
Thank you. Please hold all of these words of gratitude in your heart.
We are grateful for the blessings of the direction of South, and the element of Fire. We acknowledge that we carry grief and pain for what is happening to life on Earth.
Everyone please, turn again to your partner and this time express your grief and pain by completing the phrase, “My heart breaks when…” Please share: “my heart breaks when…”
Thank you. Please hold all of these words of grief and pain in your heart.
Now let us be grateful for the blessings of the direction of West, and the element of Water.
Please turn to your partner and express your sense of interconnectedness by completing the phrase, “What moves me to take action is…” Please share: “What moves me to take action is…”
Thank you. Please hold all of these words of motivation and calling in your heart.
Now let us be grateful for the blessings of the direction of the North and the element of Earth.
Please turn to your partner and share “The seeds of change that I am planting are…”
Thank you. Please hold these words of commitment to continue our shared journey towards justice and liberation for all.
The Rev. Clyde Grubbs, Cherokee, UU minister, and my mentor said, “This struggle is not just about one coal plant on sacred lands. It’s a global struggle to save all creatures on earth and in the water and in the air. As people of faith, we are called to lead this struggle, we are called to commit ourselves completely to a revolution in values, and it will take all of us to do it.”
Beloveds, we are not alone in this. We are all together, facing our pain together, committing to making change together. Sharing our grief makes it manageable. Each of us has some small thread of healing we can bring to the web, and we can weave together all of our little threads, and we see that somehow we have healed a whole big part of the web of life.
Let’s try it.
I invite you to face the mural and if you would like, for as long as it is comfortable, to hold up your hands:
I invite you to repeat after me:
We acknowledge the odds we are facing. [We acknowledge the odds we are facing.]
We acknowledge our grief and pain. [We acknowledge our grief and pain.]
We grieve for the missing and murdered women/ and we honor their memory with our work.
We acknowledge our deep love of Earth and the whole web of life. [We acknowledge our deep love of Earth and the whole web of life.]
We want to heal Earth. We want to heal the web of life. [We want to heal Earth. We want to heal the web of life.]
Each of us can do something, no matter how small. [Each of us can do something, no matter how small.]
Spirit of Life, you who rise greening in our hearts as well as in the sapling tree, Help us to know you as a love so large that it holds all of our grief, all of our anger, all of our fear. In all of our pain, we are ever safely held.
Help us know you as the connections between us and every other being in this world.
Help us know you as that which calls us into right relationship with every other being, beckoning us always toward love and compassion, sharing and justice.
Help us remember the commitment we have made together today. Help us keep it.
Help us serve you in all we think, all we say, and all we do,
Today, and all the days of our lives. Amen. Ashe. Blessed be.