Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings 1

I am the holy being of my mother’s prayer and my father’s song.


Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo has been named the country’s 23rd poet laureate. She is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and often draws on Native American stories, languages and myths. But she says that she’s not self-consciously trying to bring that material into her work. If anything, it’s the other way around.

“I think the culture is bringing me into it with poetry — that it’s part of me,” Harjo says in an interview with NPR’s Lynn Neary. “I don’t think about it … And so it doesn’t necessarily become a self-conscious thing — it’s just there … When you grow up as a person in your culture, you have your culture and you’re in it, but you’re also in this American culture, and that’s another layer.”

Joy Harjo Becomes The First Native American U.S. Poet Laureate
June 19, 2019. Heard on All Things Considered, Lynn Neary and Patrick Jarenwattananon at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019

In her book Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems, Joy Harjo presents steps for conflict resolution. Following is the first step, setting conflict resolution ground rules.


  • Recognize whose lands these are on which we stand.
  • Ask the deer, turtle, and the crane.
  • Make sure the spirits of these lands are respected and treated with goodwill.
  • The land is a being who remembers everything.
  • You will have to answer to your children, and their children, and theirs—
  • The red shimmer of remembering will compel you up the night to walk the perimeter of truth for understanding.
  • As I brushed my hair over the hotel sink to get ready I heard:
  • By listening we will understand who we are in this holy realm of words.
  • Do not parade, pleased with yourself.
  • You must speak in the language of justice.

Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

I was not familiar with land acknowledgement until this summer when I was blessed to work with Paula Palmer and others to present “Toward Right Relationships with Native Peoples” workshops. She taught us we needed to have a land acknowledgement statement which would be read at the beginning of each workshop. As you can see conflict resolution ground rules above are about land acknowledgement.

Following is from an Action Guide from Amnesty International.

This is a guide on how to acknowledge Indigenous territories at public events and meetings. Acknowledging the land is the process of deliberately naming that this is Indigenous land and Indigenous people have rights to this land. It provides an opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with the land and the continuous process of colonization that deeply impacts activist work. As Amnesty International calls upon the Canadian government to uphold its obligations under the UN Declaration on the of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we must recognize that those rights were stripped and denied using centuries of laws and policies based on legal doctrines such as “terra nullius”, which declared this land empty despite the presence of Indigenous peoples. Acknowledging the land becomes a small act of resistance against this continued erasure of Indigenous people and their rights.

Also from that Guide is the process for land acknowledgements. The Guide includes details about each step.

  • Name which Indigenous territories you are currently on
  • Explain why you are acknowledging the land. 
  • Address the relevance of Indigenous rights to the subject matter of your event or meeting or to your activist work in general. 
  • Put the answers for the above questions together as a statement.

NOTE: You and your group may know an elder or Indigenous person from the territory that your event is taking place on who would be happy to be invited to your event to conduct a Territory Welcome. Unless it is explicitly said not to, it’s important to pay folks for their time and work, and traditional protocol of that Nation might mean offering them a gift i.e. tobacco or sage.

Written by Ayendri Ishani Perera, Regional Activism Coordinator for Western Canada and the Territories

The following is from the Peace and Social Concerns Committee Report of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) that was approved this past summer.

To this day we have not come to grips with fundamental injustices our country was built on, the cultural genocide and theft of land from Native Americans, the enslavement of African Americans and the legal justifications of bestowing rights and privileges on white land-owning men. The consequences of these injustices continue to plague our society today. And will continue to impact us until we do what is necessary to bring these injustices to light and find ways to heal these wounds.

Several Friends recently assisted Boulder Meeting Friend, Paula Palmer, to lead workshops and discussions as part of her ministry “toward right relationships with Native people.” Part of the tragedy of the theft of Native land is that some Native people don’t have the concept of land as property, belonging to a landowner. Rather they have a spiritual connection to Mother Earth, that the land is sacred and not something that can be claimed as property by anyone. Being forced to leave their land broke their spiritual bonds with the land.

Native people have asked us to begin work toward reconciliation and healing. The first step needed is truth telling, recognizing that injury or harm has taken place. One of the important parts of holding “right relationship” workshops is to determine which Native nations were on the land before white settlers arrived. The following Land Acknowledgement for Iowa was approved by the Meskwaki Nation. We encourage Friends to read this acknowledgement statement when meetings take place on the land called Iowa.

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2019

Below is the Iowa Land Acknowledgement that was written for the “Toward Right Relationships with Native Peoples” workshops held in Iowa and Nebraska this past summer. David Wanatee of the Meskwaki Nation reviewed this statement for us.

Iowa Land Acknowledgement

We begin by acknowledging that the Land between Two Rivers, where we sit and stand today, has been the traditional homeland for many independent nations. These include the Ioway and the Otoe, who were here since before recorded time. The Omaha and the Ponca were here, moving to new lands before white settlers arrived. The Pawnee used this land for hunting grounds. The Sioux, Sauk and Meskwaki were here long before European settlers came. Members of many different Indigenous nations have lived on these plains. Let us remember that we occupy their homeland and that this land was taken by force. Today, only the Meskwaki Nation, the Red Earth People, maintain their sovereignty on their land in the state of Iowa. They persevered and refused to be dispossessed of their home. Place names all over our state recognize famous Meskwaki chiefs of the 1800s like Poweshiek, Wapello, Appanoose, and Taiomah or Tama. We honor the Meskwaki Nation for their courage, and for maintaining their language, culture and spirituality. May our time together bring respectful new openings for right relationship to grow.

This entry was posted in decolonize, Indigenous, Native Americans, Quaker, Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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