Mainly aimed at North Americans but the principles apply to other nations.
Immigration – an issue very much in the news for which many people including politicians, the media, church people and others get ‘hot under the collar’.
Most people forget that virtually all Americans are immigrants of one sort or another. There are those who came ‘voluntarily’, seeking a better life. Others because of persecution of one form or another. And then there were those forced to come, whether they wanted to or not.
But, everybody forgets that there were people already living in what is known today as North America – the Native Americans.
Total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone population: 2.9 million or about 0.9 percent of the US population – it used to be over 20 million (most killed by diseases brought over by Europeans)
Native people die at higher rates than other Americans from
– tuberculosis: 600% higher? alcoholism: 510% higher? diabetes: 189% higher
– vehicle crashes: 229% higher? injuries: 152% higher? suicide: 62% higher
– Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide among all ethnic groups in the US and is the second-leading cause of death for Native youth aged 15-24
– The rate of aggravated assault among American Indians and Alaska Natives is roughly twice that of the country as a whole (600.2 per 100,000 versus 323.6 per 100,000)
– 1 out of 10 American Indians (12 and older) become victims of violent crime annually.
Most of the problems the Native Americans have experienced over the past three centuries have been due to settlers not recognising their nomadic lifestyle and the almost genocidal treatment brought about through conquest, bringing European illnesses, destruction of their animals and massacres of whole tribes.
Many Native Americans have successfully integrated into American society and there has been a re-assurgency in the use of indigenous languages and the teaching of their history and culture. But, there is still much discrimination by the States and others as well as their identities being assimilated in ‘Americanism’. The media has not shown any interest in their plight, nor has the much of the Church.
An example of this is that none of the tribes own their land and therefore, it can be exploited for oil and gas exploration – see the following article: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-tribes-insight-idUSKBN13U1B1
The Church itself has a mixed history of its treatment of Native Americans, but today, the many Christians among them are developing culturally appropriate forms of worship and taking leadership of their congregations. (see http://chief.org/ )
What are we going to do about it?
Maybe the Church could lead the way through repentance for the way it has treated Native Americans, asking them for their forgiveness. It could also make sure they are involved as equal partners in national collaborations like Mission America and the National Association of Evangelicals as well as local outreaches and social programs.