"Whether we are indigenous peoples in North America, Hawaii, Aotearoa New Zealand or Peru, the issues confronting us are the same as they ever were -- survival -- that is, overcoming our various historic legacies whether colonial or not; rebuilding -- our cultural bases of language, tradition, custom often from the remnants; contributing -- of the best of who we are into the complex and dynamic civil societies within which we each now participate". "[A]nd yet, somehow in spite of all that was and still is to be resolved, wouldn't you also agree that even with the odds against us (and these 'odds', are not inconsiderable) is it not true, that we, as the indigenous peoples of God, do nevertheless continue to survive, to overcome, to gather together, to flourish (admittedly at very different levels) and above all else to be a people of healing and hope ? Now would you also agree with me that the reason for our 'hopefulness' is precisely because we are a people of God ? It is surely this sense of belonging, of connection, of bondedness one to another as Christians across the diversity of God's creation that keeps us ever hope filled. Sure it is because I am indigenous that I can identify and empathize with all that you have experienced in terms of colonial injustice but it is not always the case that our non-Christian relatives express any sense of hope as we engage in the politics of indigenous struggle. More often than not what we hear are expressions of hopelessness, powerlessness and unrequited anger, even talk of revenge. This where we are needed to introduce the discourse of theology, the language of outrage at any and all injustice, tempered by the attitude on non-violence and mediated by the language of forgiveness and grace of reconciliation". "Now friends, this little 'aside' does not absolve us as indigenous Christians of seizing the initiative for ourselves and seeking to ensure we are in future the best theologically educated peoples on earth !" "I think we as indigenous peoples have yet to realize just how much we are able and needing to contribute to the creation of better global societies. We have become so intensely and understandably focused on healing ourselves that we are almost oblivious to the wider global contribution we have always been poised to make. Maybe now this is what the Spirit is urging us to consider ?" "So what are some examples of indigenous knowledge and traditional ways of knowing and being ? Well, isn't it true that we claim to be especially loving and respectful of our elders ?" "This I suspect is how we must now contribute to the global task of preparing 'the way' for others to follow -- 'the way' as I see it, is God's way, not our way, the indigenous way or any other way. Our first call as God's people is surely to discern the 'way' the Holy Spirit has already taught us so well to understand, 'thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. The 'way' in this sense has already been prepared for us -- there is only one mission and it is not ours to ourselves, but ours for God's sake and in God's name -- and that mission must begin with ensuring that we ourselves, are prepared for the challenge of listening to the Holy Spirit and then possibly of being prepared for entirely new ways of being God's beautiful indigenous peoples -- with greater generosity, with greater vulnerability, with greater impatience for justice, with even greater compassion for those who suffer. Imagine what a privilege it would be 'for us' to serve those less fortunate in all parts of God's world, to alleviate the pain of those displaced, oppressed, brutalized, impoverished. Wouldn't it be something for those already somewhat disadvantaged to take the lead in modeling something profoundly important about Christ like servanthood and sacrifice ?"
"A paper presented to the National Aboriginal Consultation of the United Church of Canada held at Sudbury[Laurentian] University, 5-10 July 2005".
Author is Maori Anglican lay woman theologian and principal of St. John's Theological College in New Zealand.