Bear Creek Query Discussion

As I wrote again recently, many Quaker meetings discuss queries as one way to explore our beliefs and practices together.  I described Bear Creek meeting’s practice of inviting those who live at a distance from the meeting to participate by sending their responses to the queries to the meeting, and that blog post included my response, even though I was able to attend meeting yesterday.   I had found I appreciated being able to take the time to consider the queries when I participated using the long distance opportunity from Indianapolis.

Yesterday we discussed this month’s queries related to social and economic justice.  I was interested to see how the actual discussion would go at Bear Creek.  What follows are my personal reflections and not the approved response of the meeting.  There will be an approved response of this discussion when it is written and considered in a future meeting for worship with attention to business.

Out of the silence the advice and queries related to social and economic justice were read.  That was followed by reading the queries that had been sent to the meeting, including mine, and those from Liz Oppenheimer, and Eldon and Karen Morey, all from Minnesota.

Then those present spoke as they were led.  There was discussion of poor wages.  And quite a bit of discussion about problems with healthcare, including experiences of family members who work in the healthcare system.  When we consider the queries we strive to speak from our own experiences.

Then I spoke along the lines of my written response, some of which was similar to the written responses submitted by others.   My growing conviction is that many of our social and economic problems are symptoms of the deeper injustices that we have failed to face.  And that we will not make any progress on the large number of injustices in the United States until we face two fundamental historical injustices:  taking the land and genocide of Native Americans, and the enslavement of African Americans, for several reasons.

One is because the mindset that allowed those things to happen persists today.  Many people who identify themselves as white believe they (1) are superior to people of color and (2) have the right to extract resources from Mother Earth without regard to the damage done as a result, or the squandering of limited resources.  Until that mindset is changed, the injustices and abuses will continue.

Secondly, those of paler skin color continue to receive many benefits, whether they ask for them, or are even aware of them in many cases.  Besides continuing to be unfair to people of color, that is also damaging to white people, and their own integrity.

Third, as a matter of healing all concerned, Native Americans and people of color deserve to hear that white people recognize these injustices, are sorry they occurred, and want to stop them.

The meeting then turned its attention to what we can do.

Fortunately many members of the meeting have had years of experiences related to Native Americans, particularly related to an annual gathering at the Kuehn Conservative Area just a few miles from the Bear Creek meetinghouse.  Prairie Awakening is a native storytelling and dance event that will occur this Sunday, September 10th.  Here is the schedule: Prairie Awakening Schedule- Poster 2017

There were several suggestions of ways the meeting could help with this event as a response our discussions.  Besides spreading the word about the event, and attending ourselves, there are opportunities to volunteer help at the event:

Prairie Awoke Celebration
Volunteer Opportunities
Sunday, September 10

Pre-Celebration Prep 2-5 pm
Arena: post 4 direction flags, chairs / tables for arbor and
announcers stand, Sound System, Lights
Parking barricades and signs, Set up Welcome tent
Poles for lanterns – trails to parking lot
Construct Dallas’ bonfire east of tipi
Picnic tables / Garbage cans to concessions area

Event Parking ( 2 hrs. shifts )
Stationed at barricade– direct to pasture
4-6 pm / 6-8 pm / 8 to closing

Welcome Tent– T-shirt Sales ( 2 hrs. shifts )
4-6 pm / 6-8 pm / 8 to closing

Jack-of-all-Trades ( 1 hr. shifts )
Runner-arena announcements, Water to drummers, Check nature center, garbage cans

If you can help, please contact Chris Adkins- Environmental Education Coordinator / Naturalist- DCCB, 515-202-2552, chris.adkins@dallascountyiowa.gov

There was also discussion about financial support for this event, both by the meeting and individuals.  We learned that the continuation of this event is at risk because of possible changes in financial support and shifting priorities of the Dallas County government.  There has been some preliminary discussion of creating a foundation to continue this event, which the meeting expressed an interest in.

According to the program, some people from the Meskwaki settlement will participate.  Following are some photos I took, with permission, at the recent Meskwaki Powwow.

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