IAMSCU concludes Symposium on “Native American Rights”

The IAMSCU Human Rights Network promoted the “IAMSCU Colloquium on Human Rights and the Indigenous Peoples of North America” which was held on December 11-12, 2023, at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta, GA, in the United States. The event celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which was proclaimed on December 10, 1948) and focused on Indigenous Rights, based on the International Convention on Indigenous Rights approved by the United Nations in 2007. This event continued on other recent IAMSCU discussions on this theme. The impulse for this series of events was given by the process at Iliff School of Theology, which addressed the terrible legacy of a book in its library, covered with the skin of a Lenape human being. This topics was first discussed at a Human Rights event in Stockholm, Sweden, and then again in London, UK.

Prof. emeritus Dr. Tin Tinker (Photo: Kimberly Lord)

Led by Thomas Wolf (former President of Iliff School of Theology and of IAMSCU) and Professor Tink Tinker (Professor emeritus of American Indian Studies), the colloquium learned from the experience of Native American Peoples in the United States and considered how Methodist-related educational institutions can learn from the experience at Iliff School of Theology to effectively address the legacy of colonialism and racism in their history and structure. The final program of the colloquium made room for all these topics and include many Native American leaders representing various organizations, including Emory University, Garrett Seminary, the Native American International Caucus, scholars from various educational and church institutions.

Leaders of the Natie American International Caucus, NAIC: Ragghi Rain, Tsalaghi; Suanne Ware-Diaz, Kiowa; Cynthia Mosley, Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape; Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin, Lakota Yakima (Photo: Kimberly Lord).

One important goal of the event was to bring together various Native American and Indigenous leaders who will be engaged in conversation and presentations while leaders of educational institutions and church organizations listen and learn. There were opportunities to share meals, share stories, and share liturgical moments according to Native American traditions, which promoted the fellowship among participants.

The program included representatives from the United Methodist Native American Comprehensive Plan, the Native American International Caucus, and other individuals and groups committed to Native American education.

Prof. Dr. Robin Minthorn and Prof. Dr. emeritus Tink Tinker (Photo: Kimberly Lord).

In the conclusion, the participants in the colloquium recommended continuing initiatives in various layers such as having institutions acknowledge the strong connection of Native Americans to their original land, challenging IAMSCU to have greater international Indigenous representation, focus on Indigenous students at Methodist-related institutions – especially in the context of Higher Education –, and continue the conversation about how institutions are connected to Indigenous places, land, People, and their communities, always being mindful of the different contexts of Indigeneity. IAMSCU leaders expressed their commitment to continue this dialogical and learning process, including Indigenous Peoples from Methodist-related educational institutions in other parts of the world.