This article was also published on IndianZ.com on Dec. 19, 2011
Truth Be Told
I am currently writing a book about the Doctrine of Discovery along with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah. There is a crowdfunding campaign to support the writing process with reward levels that includes SIGNED COPIES of the book once it is released! Click here for more information.
Monday, December 19, 2011
This article was also published on IndianZ.com on Dec. 19, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Now that the NBA lockout is officially over: A petition to NBA Owners and Players to regain the support of their fans.
I propose that for the first home game played by each NBA team, the owners and players pledge to donate all basketball related income and contracted salary. These funds will be pooled to be divided equally in 2 ways.
1. Provide a lump sum (bonus) payment to every hourly employee who lost their job, hours or income due to the lock-out.
2. Use the funds to evenly decrease the tickets price for all remaining regular season home games for each team.
I am thankful that the lock-out is over and I hope the NBA owners and players will remember what a privilege it is to be able to earn such a lucrative living from the sport they love. I also hope they remember that without their fans and the hourly employees supporting their league, none of this would be possible. And so I offer this simple suggestion as to how they best can go about saying "Thank You."
If you agree with my suggestion, I invite you to sign my petition at Change.org: A petition to NBA Owners and Players to regain the support of their fans.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Taking the 51st virtual Native American state conversation to Iowa, New Hampshire and the rest of the country.
Ya'at'eeh. I hope to write a more polished announcement sometime in the next few days, but I wanted to get something published on my blog as soon as possible..
As you are probably aware, I have been doing some speaking and writing on an amendment to the US Constitution that I am proposing to create a 51st virtual Native American state. I feel that this is a very important dialogue for our country to have, not only to give disenfranchised Native American communities a stronger and more unified voice in national elections, but also to continue the process of reconciling and healing our country's broken relationships with the indigenous peoples of this land.
Over the next 12 months, throughout the Primary and Caucus season, the Conventions and then the General election our country will be engaging in numerous dialogues with our current and future leaders and we will be thinking about things such as voting districts and the electoral college. I think this environment will provide an excellent opportunity to engage a national dialogue on the 51st virtual Native American state proposal. My proposal speaks directly to the order of the primaries and caucuses, making this a very natural springboard. So I, and the small but extremely dedicated team of people who have been helping me, have decided to give as much energy, effort and resources as possible to initiate this conversation on a national level.
Beginning with the caucuses in Iowa on January 3 and the primary in New Hampshire on January 10, I am planning to travel to several key states throughout the primary season to hold lectures, town hall meetings and other public (and hopefully media) events to engage Native American communities, colleges and the general public with this proposal. If you are interested in supporting us in any way throughout this process, you can start by clicking LIKE on the 51st virtual Native American state Facebook page.
I have never attempted to engage in such a large and public conversation before and and sure I will make many, many mistakes along the way. But throughout this entire process I will covet your prayers, your encouragement and your support.
ahe'hee'. (Thank you)
Monday, November 14, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
And then there is the silent noise that bombards us on a daily basis. Our eyes are strangely drawn to the billboards we pass on the city streets. We cannot help but read the sensational tabloid headlines stacked by the grocery store checkout lines. And then of course there are the text messages, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts that constantly stream through our phones and computers and into our lives. Everywhere we turn someone or something is blaring noise and demanding our attention.
Since moving to the Navajo Reservation nearly seven years ago my mind has been filled with many thoughts and my heart has been burdened with many questions: What does it look like to be racially reconciled within the United States of America? What does it mean for the Christian Church to be multi-ethnic and diverse when the underlying value for our country is assimilation? How can we raise up and empower Native American leaders for business, government and churches when the road to college degrees and ordination requires students to leave the reservation and assimilate to the Western culture, language and educational system? What can it look like for the indigenous hosts of this land to take their place in national debates on issues like Immigration Reform? How can the Native American community have a voice in the Electoral College?
I do not want to claim to be an authority on any of these questions. But I also want to acknowledge that I have spent much time praying, reflecting, struggling and conversing over each of them, as well as many others that I did not mention, and I would like very much to join the conversation where it is present and initiate dialogue where there is none.
But how is one heard? How does someone with a message rise above the noise to captivate the public’s attention and solicit their response? What does it look like to engage our churches, denominations and even our government in this type of public discourse?
There are many examples that I could follow that many people, organizations and institutions have employed in an effort to rise above the noise and be heard. I could seek out controversial stories, graphic images or misleading headlines like so many talk shows and news agencies do. Or I could use images of sex and violence, promises of wealth or guarantees of happiness like so many advertisers do. Or I could try and make my message ever present by injecting it into every possible context. Like a television or radio playing quietly in the background -- always on, yet never obtrusive -- my message would take on the subtle visibility of a well executed product campaign.
Each of these methods has been used very effectively, but, in the end, they are all adding to the same problem that each is trying rise above. I would also add that the goal of most of these methods is not to cause us to think, reflect or even converse. Instead the goal is to get us to react, jump to a conclusion, or even more simplistically, make a purchase.
In the mornings my daughter and I wake up early and walk to the top of a hill near us in order to watch the sun rise. As we walk up the hill we talk together but in the background we can often hear birds singing, dogs barking and occasionally cars passing by. But the most distinct and yet infrequent noise that we hear is that of a donkey braying. We don’t hear it every day, or even every week. It is infrequent and unpredictable, yet surprisingly consistent. But every morning we listen for it and each time we hear it my daughter exclaims, “Daddy! I hear my favorite donkey!!!”
If you have ever heard a donkey’s bray you know that it can be an extremely loud sound that quickly becomes annoying. It usually goes on for several seconds and sounds about as pleasant as an untrained performer with laryngitis who is attempting to sing opera. Yet as my daughter and I watch the sunrise we pray and frequently her prayer includes the words, “...and Jesus I thank you that I can hear my favorite donkey.”
My daughter knows this donkey. She listens for his bray, and she is filled with joy every time she hears it. Now if we owned a herd of donkeys and every morning they sounded as loudly as this one donkey, then I do not think my daughter would receive his braying with such glee. Rather she might pray that Jesus would shut those donkeys up so she could get some sleep. But the infrequent and yet consistent braying of this single donkey is welcomed by our entire family, and every time we hear it we listen and even celebrate.
For some time now, I have been considering how I can engage a larger audience with the topics that I listed above and which the Creator has placed on my heart. Several years ago I started a blog, but my posts were extremely infrequent and resembled a collection of published articles more than a blog. I was not engaging in a conversation as much as I was publishing my finished thoughts. So then a few years ago I opened a Facebook account, and I probably update my status between 2 and 5 times a day! I frequently have people comment on or ‘LIKE’ my status updates, but I assume that there are just as many of my ‘friends’ who have hidden, or at least learned to tune out my constant blabber about Starbucks coffee, Chipotle burritos, sunrises and even my own children.
Neither of those attempts to communicate more broadly has come close to satisfying my desire to engage my community, our churches, the country and our leaders in a constructive dialogue. So I am going to try once again. But this time I think I will pay attention to some of the lessons that can be learned from this donkey that my daughter loves so much.
First, I want to have a distinct, clear and recognizable voice. As far as I can tell, there is only one donkey residing on our hill while there are many dogs, cows, cats and birds. One reason the braying is so welcomed is because it is different and not easily mistaken for the sounds from the other animals that we hear all of the time.
Second, I want to have a short and understandable message. The donkey does not make a beautiful sound and if it were to go on for longer than a few seconds it would very quickly become irritating. But I have learned to trust that the brays will be short and therefore welcome them as I am reminded that our hill is larger and more diverse than what I see on a daily basis.
Third, when I do speak (or write) I want to be loud enough to be heard, even from a distance. My daughter rarely sees this donkey that she loves so much. The primary reason she know he exists is because his bray breaks through the serene silence that typically accompanies the sunrises that we watch. Because he is far off, he is not as loud as the cars that occasionally drive in front of us or the dogs that sometimes bark at us, and we do need to cease our talking in order to hear him. But when we do, his voice is easily heard.
It is my hope, that if I do these three things well, then I will not need to entice people to listen by exploiting controversial topics, flashing violent images or making empty promises. Instead I want keep the conversation going and my audience interested, engaged and hungry for more by the infrequent, yet surprisingly consistent, sound of my voice. I aspire to be like this donkey, who, at least for my daughter, has redefined the loud, annoying and obnoxious noise of his bray into a sweet, familiar and cherished sound.
(A version of this blog post was also published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.)
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
One of the buzz phrases I have heard in many social justice circles regarding the issue of immigration reform is “Comprehensive and Just Immigration Reform”. But I have taken a slight twist on that idea and have used it to advocate for our Native American communities by pointing out that “immigration reform will be neither comprehensive nor just unless it includes the voices and perspectives of the Native American peoples.
Right now I am not even advocating for any specific policy or stance. Instead I am merely observing that the voices of Native American are largely absent from this conversation. And so I am trying to speak to 2 separate audiences.
To our Native American communities I want to communicate that this is an important and historic dialogue for our country and our land and that we, as indigenous peoples, can offer a unique and invaluable perspective. We are the original inhabitants of this land and for the first time in centuries we have an opportunity to shape the dialogue regarding who should and should not be allowed to be here. So I want to encourage our people to step up and take our place in this conversation.
And to non-Native communities I am trying to point out the irony of trying to reform a policy on immigration without the indigenous inhabitants of the land participating in the conversation. I have witnessed and am convicted that merely our presence at the table where immigration reform is being discussed fundamentally effects and alters the conversation. This is because our Native American community is a visual reminder of our country’s unjust history regarding immigration policy, and that is even before we begin speaking and offering our distinct perspectives on the land and our relationship to it. And so I want our country and our leaders to pause, and notice that the Native American community is not actively a part of this conversation and then to intentionally invite us to the table.
I do not believe that either community can resolve this issue alone. And even together we are not going to get it perfect. But both voices are necessary if we want this reform to be more comprehensive and more just than our current policy is now.Facebook:
I am trying to create some meaningful space where our Native American communities can begin to hone and articulate our thoughts and opinions on immigration reform so I started a Facebook Page regarding this topic.
Here is an article by the Gallup Herald, a local weekly news publication. They interviewed me and published an article regarding a Native American Perspective on Immigration Reform.
This was one of the first events I spoke at where I advocated for the inclusion of the Native American community in the national dialogue on Immigration Reform.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
At each of the previous gatherings that I have attended, the WCGIP has followed a similar protocol with the leaders and elders of those lands (Hawaii, Sweden and Israel). This year I not only had the opportunity to observe and be welcomed through this process, but I also had the privilege to participate and give one of the speeches to the Maori king and his people.
This event did not include a time of worship and it all took place even before we had registered for the conference and had properly greeted each other. But the more I experience and reflect on this type of protocol, the more I understand how this is a part and even some of the foundation of our worship.
This protocol is a very clear reminder to me of who I am in these foreign lands. A guest. And having that mentality with the people of the lands where I have come to worship, is a wonderful reminder of who I am before our creator. His creation.
(This article was first published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship)