November is National Native American Heritage Month The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum all join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. We here at Messiah do, too!
"At the time that colonization began, the area of Southwest Washington was occupied primarily by the Chinook and Cowlitz tribes. Additionally, countless tribes from across the Pacific Northwest came to this area to trade with one another by using the Columbia River and its adjoining waterways as an intricate network of trade routes.
For millennia, their communities thrived while maintaining a balanced, sustainable relationship with the natural world. These values were passed down from generation to generation and are still practiced by indigenous groups today, including the Cowlitz and Chinook." (City of Vancouver webpage.)
One common way to acknowledge the rich heritage of our Native fore bearers is through spoken "Land Acknowledges" at the beginning of gatherings, such as our worship services. We will offer a land acknowledgements prior to worship for each of the Sundays of November in honor of American Indian Heritage Month.
In the mid and late 1800s many Pacific Northwest Tribes were forced off their lands and moved to reservations. Some signed treaties surrendering their ancestral lands - while moving to reservations - in exchanged for the U.S. governments promised that they could retain the right to fish and hunt their ancestral lands. The Cowlitz were not among those tribes that signed such a treaty and so have historically not been recognized as a tribe by the U.S. government. This was rectified in 2000 when the U.S. government decided to recognize the tribe. The Cowlitz Reservation was established in 2010. The 152-acre reservation is located near Ridgefield, in Clark County.
You can read more about the Cowlitz in their own words at the Nation's website. "We, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, are the Forever People. Since the beginning of time we have nurtured our community bye stewarding the land and the rivers, investing in our people and culture, and promoting self-determination and prosperity for future generations."
As stated above, we will acknowledge our Cowlitz ancestors and their stewardship of the lands through the following acknowledgement to be read each Sunday in November.
"It is vital to honor those who came before us and acknowledge the long history of what is now southwest Washington State. This area has been home to ancestors of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe for thousands of years. The land, with its rich resources, enabled the Cowlitz People to flourish, and they stewarded the land with their traditional culture. Today we voice our appreciation for the persistence of the Cowlitz People and the important role they play in our region as together we steward the land for all our descendants."
Pr. Dave Brauer-Rieke
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