Decolonizing Quakers

I’ve been writing lately about a series of webinars titled “Working Toward Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples.” Information about the webinar topics and registration for this series can be found at the end of this blog post.

The series is co-sponsored by Pendle Hill, Decolonizing Quakers, Canadian Friends Service Committee, and Friends Peace Teams/Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples.

You might not have heard of Decolonizing Quakers. What follows is the description of “Who we are . . .” found on the group’s website,

I am honored to have been invited recently to join the steering committee for Decolonizing Quakers. I usually avoid joining groups and committees for a number of reasons, the most basic being I want to be free to respond to leadings of the Spirit. But I know and respect the work of some people on the committee and am glad to be introduced to the rest. And the work of this group aligns with my path over the past five or six years, as I was blessed to have many opportunities to get to know, and work with Quakers and Native Americans. Much of that was related to protecting water and working to reduce the multiple ways fossil fuels are damaging Mother Earth.

I believe a great many people feel a sense of urgency at this time of turmoil, as our economic and political structures are unraveling, and believe we have an opportunity to build a better world. These webinars and the other work of Decolonizing Quakers and Indigenous Peoples can help build beloved communities for us all.

Who We Are . . .

We are a group of North American Quakers seeking to:

* Learn and act upon the truth of Quaker history with Indigenous Peoples, to acknowledge the wounds resulting from this history for all peoples impacted, and to engage in actions that move toward justice and recognize the dignity of all those concerned;

* Support each other and connect with other concerned Friends practically and spiritually as we work to raise awareness within our local communities and in the broader Quaker community;

* Offer support, information, and resources for non-Indigenous Quakers to help them discern and develop right relationships with Indigenous people, within and beyond the Quaker community;

* Lift up the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a moral and legal framework for justice and right relationships;

* Acknowledge, honor and respect Indigenous ways of knowing that offer non-Western/ non-colonial approaches, including understandings of the environmental, social, economic and spiritual conditions that threaten us all;

* Walk respectfully in ways that increase cultural integrity and justice for Indigenous nations and communities, and for the Earth.

How “Decolonizing Quakers” Came to Be

Decolonizing Quakers is an organization that had its origins in a conference at Pendle Hill in May 2018 entitled “Truth and Healing: Quakers Seeking Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” which involved Quakers of multiple ethnic identities and some Indigenous people who did not identify as Quaker. At that conference, a Friend voiced a leading to explore forming a North American organization of Quakers to continue the work that was identified as ours to do institutionally and individually as Quakers.

A steering committee formed in the months following the conference to discern a way forward.  Recognizing that those initiating this effort were largely of European descent, the steering committee is making efforts to reach out to involve Indigenous and other Friends of color, Friends from the various branches of Quakerism, and Friends from across our geographical territories.  

The steering committee has met monthly since July 2018 and has wrestled with a statement of purpose that has evolved as its members have acknowledged a complexity of issues: 

* The North American experience shares commonalities with the dismissal and attempted erasure of Indigenous Peoples worldwide and particularly with English-colonized countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. 

*  Descendants of colonized peoples and colonizers alike have necessary work to do that is separate but interconnected.  It involves our mindsets, cultural patterns and systems of domination.  

*  Some of this work needs to proceed independently without bringing about further injury on Indigenous people, by placing a burden on them to educate European-Americans. Yet the work has to proceed in relationship with and following the leadership of Indigenous peoples. 

*  The work of decolonizing, both the educating and the healing, intersects with the need to address the legacy of slavery, continuing racism, and the continuing oppression of women.  It is also a matter of urgency to the survival of the human species and the health of the Earth as Mother of us all. Part of our struggle is to define a mission and purpose that can remain sufficiently focused to be effective and at the same time recognize that it is only a part of a broader vision of healing.



Working Toward Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples

The series begins on August 10, and continues on the second and fourth Mondays in August, September, and October, at 7:30 – 9 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S. and Canada) via Zoom


(Link here to full descriptions and leader bios).

1. Sovereignty and Tribal Government Relations in the United States and Canada
With Jerilyn DeCoteau and Will David
August 10, 2020 – 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time

2. Implementing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
With Sheryl Lightfoot and Jennifer Preston
August 24, 2020 – 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time

3. Cultural Appreciation vs. Appropriation/Misappropriation
With Dan and Mary Lou Smoke, Freida Jacques, and the Rev. Dr. J.R. Norwood
September 14, 2020 – 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time

4. Solidarity, Guidance for Engagement
With Kenneth Deer and Chief Dennis Coker
September 28, 2020 – 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time

5. Healing from Intergenerational Trauma
With Elicia Goodsoldier and Cante’ Waste Win (Good Hearted Woman)
October 12, 2020 – 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time

6. Truth and Healing
With Marie Wilson, Denise Altvater, Esther Anne, and Penthea Burns
October 26, 2020 – 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time

People from all over Canada, the U.S., and other countries are invited participate in the webinar series via Zoom. Participants are also invited to form small group discussions (perhaps within your meeting or congregation) between the webinar sessions. Additional resource materials will be posted on the Pendle Hill website to support these discussions.


Co-sponsored by Pendle Hill, Decolonizing Quakers, Canadian Friends Service Committee, and Friends Peace Teams/Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples.

Register for the entire series – August 10th & 24th, September 14th & 28th, and October 12th & 26th – or for each webinar separately:

Basic Fee for the whole series – $125
Fee Plus for the whole series – $140
Subsidized Fee for the whole series – $100
Individual webinars – $25 each

Indigenous persons are invited to register for this program as our guests without charge.

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

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