On Wednesday June 6th 2012 we attended a special gathering hosted by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe in Mt. Pleasant Michigan. The purpose of the gathering was for Honoring, Healing and Remembering. This was a gathering to honor the memory of the Indian children of the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial School. Those who were abused and died there, and the families affected, even to this very day. And to acknowledge the pain and suffering felt there–so that healing can take place.
As I listened to the Elders share the memory of the abuse and pain afflicted on the innocent children incarcerated there–I could only silently weep. Sometimes Native parents would come to pick up their child only to discover, upon arrival, that their child had died earlier in the year.
I was born and raised in Michigan and could hardly believe my ears as I listened and looked into the faces of the Elders as they choked out their memories. It was a time to “weep with those who weep.”
“We are forgiving the unforgivable” one Native Spokesperson announced.
In the American church today there is a lot of hype and triumphalism preached from the pulpets and televisions every Sunday. A lot of talk about rejoicing and overcoming but little about tragedy, grief, weeping and sorrow–a very real part of our humanity.
Jesus wept as he stood before the grave of Lazarus and listened to the expressions of sorrow from the family. It moved and troubled him as he felt the very real pain of our human existence. Their sorrowful faith moved him to action.
There is a time to weep.
America and its churches need to take the time to mourn the loss of thousands of Indian children in the over 500 boarding schools that inflicted emotional, physical, sexual and cultural abuse upon its Indigenous Peoples. Government boarding schools often run by churches, Mt. Pleasant school was run by Methodists. We heard that the American Indian Boarding schools became a template for Canada and Australia.
I know that Jesus was there on Wednesday weeping with us all at the misrepresentation of his love. The only solace I can find is that when he suffered on the cross it was to absorb the injustice and pain of sins like this.
Like the prophets of old expressed their lamentations let us grieve the loss of these children.
“For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my spirit;
my children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.” Lamentations 1:16
Miigwech Bizandowiyeg (thank you for listening).