Saturday, September 23, 2006

Indigenous Consultation Enhances Sámi Organizer's Belonging to Lutheran Family

Sámi have greater opportunities than many other indigenous people

Line Skum belongs to the Sámi people in Norway. She is dressed in a traditional Sámi bonnet, but she does not wear it every day during her work as a consultant for the Sámi Church Council.

During the Karasjok consultation she has kept her smile each day, no matter what has come before her.

"I'm very busy and have enjoyed working on this consultation which our Sámi people are hosting in Karasjok. Sometimes our planning for the part of the consultation have run behind time. But I am really delighted to work here and learn more about indigenous' culture questions throughout the world," says Line.

She thinks the Karasjok meeting has a special meaning for the Sámi people.

"It enhances my feeling of being part of the large international Lutheran family," says Line.

Answering a question about her being a Sámi, she says that it is not difficult belonging to this indigenous group in Norway. She also sees Sámi as having greater opportunities than many other indigenous people at the meeting.

La conférence renforce le sentiment d'appartenance de l'organisatrice Sámie à la famille luthérienne

Line Skum, consultante pour l'Église de Norvège, a été la cheville ouvrière de l'organisation de cette conférence. Habillée du traditionnel costume Sámi, un sourire éclatant aux lèvres, elle reconnaît que le planning a parfois été difficile à tenir, mais qu'elle a apprécié travailler à Karasjok et apprendre tellement des cultures indigènes du monde entier.

Pour le peuple Sámi, cette conférence a eu une signification particulière : "Cela a vraiment renforcé mon sentiment d'appartenance à la grande famille luthérienne internationale." Interrogée sur ce sujet, elle dit ne pas avoir de difficulté particulière en tant que Sámie en Norvège. Elle a eu la confirmation ici que les Sámis ont plus d'opportunités que beaucoup des autres peuples présents.

Incas' Predecessors in Andes Still Fight for Land Rights

Election of indigenous president in Bolivia a 'success' says bishop

Bishop Eugenio Poma belongs to the Aymara people, who have lived as heigh as 4,000 meters in the Andes in what is now Bolivia and, to a lesser extent, Peru for more than 2,000 years. They are the ancient Incas' predecessors.

Many Aymara associate themselves with the highly advanced civilization centered at Tiwanaku, and the ancient knowledge about life is being passed from generation to generation among them, he says.

Bishop Poma works for the World Council of Churches' program for Indigenous Peoples. He says it has been one of the leading NGOs supporting the work of indigenous people in many places.

"They are providing support and commitment to indigenous representatives at an international level in particular at the United Nations. There they affirm the spirituality of indigenous people and they are strengthening an ongoing process on land issues and self determination," said Poma.

Asked to list some success stories from his program he immediately cites the election of Bolivia's indigenous president in January. "It's been a long process of advocating and educating to get indigenous people to participate." He says Ecuador and Peru are working to do the same as Bolivia. "There was a woman from the Quechua people who wanted to be sworn into Peru's Parliament in the Quechua language, but it was not allowed, so there's still much to be done."

Poma identifies the main issues for indigenous peoples in South America as land rights and self determination rights.

"All of us have a strong identity. But we have to fight for everything else."

Les prédécesseurs des Incas continuent de se battre pour leur terre

L'évêque Eugenion Poma appartient au peuple des Aymaras, vivant à 4.000 mètres d'altitude, dans ce qui est l'actuelle Bolivie… il est en quelque sorte l'un des prédécesseurs des Incas. Il travaille actuellement pour le Conseil oecuménique de Églises (COE), qui a été l'une des ONG en pointe sur les questions des peuples indigènes.

L'une des plus grandes réussite de ce programme, à ses yeux, est celle de l'élection d'un indigène à la présidence de son pays : "Le résultat d'un long processus de soutien et d'éducation pour que les indigènes participent [à la vie démocratique]." Mais le chemin est encore long, les luttes pour la terre et pour l'autodétermination cruciales : "Nous avons tous une forte identité. Mais nous devons nous battre pour tout le reste."

Two Choices: 'Live or Disappear', Says Sioux Campaigner

American Indians streaming to cities 'battle for acceptance'

North American Indians will not disappear despite what has happened to them in the past, says the director of Lutheran agency that assists American Indians living in Chicago, Illinois, United States.

"We will not disappear; a thousand years of practice has taught us to survive," says Marilyn Sorenson, a native of South Dakota from the Sioux Indians. Although she is a Sioux, she has some Scandinavian ancestors as well she said.

Through her work as a director of the American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Chicago, she hopes to make the lives of Indians who stream to the cities from reservations less harrowing.

Sorenson says that the guarantee for the survival of Indians in 21st century America requires their acceptance by the society around them and their confidence to come to terms with living in it.

A critical factor for North American Indians living in reservations is a dire shortage of qualified teachers.

"Our common goals are: Creating economic stability for the winding down of poverty and being recognized as people who have gifts for society," says Sorenson. She adds, "We are often considered as pagans because of our traditional faith."

Sorenson finds shocking the fact that among American Indians there are serious problem of drug and alcohol abuse, and they have a higher incidence of suicide than do all the other inhabitants of the United States.

"The role of the Church is bringing the Gospel to people in order to provide a hope," says Sorenson. "Indian centers in bigger towns (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or Denver) act to make easier important changes such as moving from reservations to cities."

"Nous avons deux options : vivre ou disparaître"

Marilyn Sorenson a une double origine : sioux du Dakota du Sud, et - comme son nom le laisse entendre - scandinave. C'est riche de cette double culture qu'elle remplit ses fonctions de directrice du Ministère pour les indiens d'Amérique et d'Alaska, au sein de l'Église Évangélique Luthérienne d'Amérique, à Chicago.

L'enjeu pour la survie des peuples indiens au 21e siècle c'est d'être acceptés au sein de la société. "Le rôle de l'Église est d'apporter l'Évangile au peuple afin de redonner l'espoir" face aux situations difficiles générées par la vie dans les réserves (drogue, alcoolisme, suicide, etc.)

Malaysian Says Indigenous Face Similar Struggles Worldwide

The Sámi people have a special situation says Dajak Lutheran

William Loh from the Basel Christian Church of Malaysia is clear in his message: “The LWF should be more concrete in actions that are needed to promote the living conditions of indigenous people. We face the same struggle world wide,” says Loh speaking at the Karasjok consultation.

Loh knows what it feels to belong to a cultural minority.
He belongs to a group of Dajaks, one of 64 groups of indigenous people in Malaysia.

He says the task is to keep the own tradition but at the same time to live peacefully and respectfully with others.

“We understand this situation in our every day lives. You should be able to pass your culture, identity and language to the next generation,” he notes, stressing that this does not mean closing the door on others.

“Our children have to learn other languages,” he acknowledges, noting they need to be receptive to the world around them.

In Karasjok, the purpose of the conference has been to discuss the concerns and challenges confronting indigenous peoples in different parts of the world today.

Loh, who is normally vivacious, contemplates deeply when asked what is the next step.

“I salute the Sámi people. They have an extraordinary situation.”

Les indigènes rencontrent des situations similaires à travers le monde.

William Loh, du peuple Dajak, membre de l'Église chrétienne de Bâle en Malaysie, la FLM devrait s'engager dans des actions plus concrètes en faveur des peuples indigènes, "tout autour du monde nous sommes engagés dans le même combat."

La tâche pour chaque peuple est de transmettre sa culture à la génération suivante, tout en lui permettant de s'ouvrir aux autres : "Nos enfants doivent apprendre d'autres langues."

Aboriginal People Shine at Olympic Games, and Then are Forgotten

Make Indigenous Poverty History, says Rachelle McIvor

Rachelle McIvor from Hopevale Aboriginal Community, Cape York, Queensland in Australia dreams of the day when every Aboriginal person will be proud of their identity and culture.

"The representation and involvement of indigenous culture at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, came to the fore from the time Sydney had bid for the Games, to the staging of the first Olympic Arts Festival," said Rachelle. "The festival was an attractive event in the cultural life of indigenous and mainstream Australia, giving indigenous Australians an opportunity to present themselves."

She notes, "However this was just one event, the celebration, the government's show for the world. The everyday life for Aboriginal people is different. We are not a part of national culture."

It is important for her to promote aboriginal culture, to make mainstream society inclusive. "If being Aboriginal a is not a positive thing in Australia, our kids can't be proud And it's not about creating a new contemporary Indigenous culture in Australia, but about finding a new way of being together (indigenous and non-indigenous Australian) in this nation.

Rachelle is involved in raising awareness about poverty among the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission. The country's Make Indigenous Poverty History campaign is one of that group's projects. It seeks to ensure the global campaign supporting the Millennium Development Goals does not overlook the poverty suffered by indigenous peoples in Australia.

"This campaign differs from the global campaign because we are losing our culture and it's about not having access to things mainstream society takes for granted," noted Rachelle.

She cites Australia's key economic indicators showing that Australia's indigenous peoples are living in poverty, their children are twice as likely to die in infancy, they suffer from more preventable diseases, have higher unemployment, lower housing ownership, lower engagement with education and are six times as likely to be murdered.

Poverty is a debilitating experience for many of her people but Rachelle is aware that without the meaningful participation of indigenous people this marginalization and exclusion will continue.

"We have reached the crossroads and now we, the Aboriginal Australian people have to decide what future they want for their kids. Is it the one shaped by the legal system of Australia or that based on Aboriginal traditional values."

Les aborigènes brillent aux Jeux olympiques et ensuite tombent dans l'oubli

Du point de vue de
Rachelle McIvor, du Queensland, les aborigènes ont été impliqués et visibles autour de l'événement des Jeux olympiques de Sydney de l'an 2000. "Mais cela n'était qu'un événement, la vitrine du gouvernement pour le monde. La vie quotidienne des aborigènes est très différente. Nous ne faisons pas partie de la culture nationale."

La jeune femme est engagée dans la campagne "Que la pauvreté des aborigènes ne soit plus que de l'histoire ancienne" qui s'assure que les Objectifs du Millénaire de l'ONU ne soient pas mis de côté en Australie, concernant son peuple. Les indicateurs de la pauvreté des aborigènes sont particulièrement nombreux : d'une mortalité infantile double de la moyenne du pays à un taux de chômage particulièrement élevé.

"Nous avons maintenant atteint un croisement et les aborigènes d'Australie doivent choisir quel avenir ils veulent pour leurs enfants. Un avenir formé sur le système légal ausralien, ou un avenir basé sur les valeurs traditionnelles aborigènes."

Maori Lutheran Does Haka at Arctic Circle Gathering for Indigenous Peoples

At 68 Ahi is still working and walking

Indigenous to the "Land of the Long White Cloud", Ahithophel Allen got known among the participants of the Karasjok conference for turning up with several Maori traditions, such as greeting in his language: "Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou" and his melifilous singing.

He became known also for his rendition at a cultural evening during the consultation of the Haka, a traditional Maori war dance, now performed before New Zealand's world-beating All Blacks rugby team begins battle in international rugby games.

Ahi still remembers the movements of the Haka, associated with hand-to-hand combat practiced in pre-colonial times. He demonstrated the synchronized action, timing, posture, footwork and war curdling sounds of the Haka with his own rendition.

A mean feat for a man born in 1938, remarked others present at the meeting.

Ahi had to leave home at the age of 15 to work as a post office delivery boy. That's why he was unable to get more schooling then. But still, it instilled in him the need to work hard to get ahead. That stopped him being afraid of putting his nose to the grindstone, and proof now is that he is working beyond the normal retirment age.

"I still go to work on foot and walk seven kilometers each day come rain, snow, wind or sunshine," says Ahi who lives in Christchurch the garden city on New Zealand's South Island.

He works as a coordinator at Ageconcern, Canterbury as well uses his singing voice at his local Lutheran congregation.

"We help elderly people who are not mobile due to ailments or age. We pick them up with minibuses to do their everyday chores," says Ahi who works on a partially-paid basis.

Un luthérien Maori offre un Haka aux peuples indigènes réunis sur le cercle arctique

Originaire de la "Terre du long nuage blanc" (Nouvelle-Zélande), Ahithophel Allen est vite devenu connu des autres participants de la conférence pour ses salutations Maories, sa voix mélodieuse et chantante. Lors de la soirée culturelle, il est aussi devenu célèbre pour le Haka traditionnel qu'il a offert. Cette danse guerrière est surtout connue via l'équipe nationale de rugby des All-Blacks qui continuent d'effrayer leurs "ennemis" avant chaque match par cette combinaison de cris, de gestes et de grimaces.

L'agilité de "Ahi", 68 ans, lui vient probablement de ce qu'il continue à parcourir à pieds 7 km chaque jour pour aller travailler - ce qu'il fait depuis l'âge de quinze ans! Coordinateur de l'association Ageconcern, dans sa ville de Christchurch, il vient en aide aux personnes sans mobilité à cause de l'âge ou de la maladie. "Nous les accompagnons, en minibus, pour leurs tâches de chaque jour."

Music Is Not a Hobby, It Has Something More for This Teacher

Desire to work with indigenous took her from Paraguay to Brazil

Craciela Chamorro started her introduction with a song. Soon all the participants at the Karasjok consultation were singing with gusto.

"Music is not just a hobby, it really is something more. I can not play a musical instrument but I love taking part in sing songs. But I prefer to practice before I sing, "she said.

Craciela was born in Paraguay. Now she lives in Brazil where she works as a university teacher where her students are a group of indigenous people.

Her first experience of teaching a group of indigenous people was in Germany, in 1999.

When she went to Brazil she organized the same course she had taught previously when she was there.

"At the beginning we had nearly 200 applicants from indigenous people, but only 60 places at the university, "she said. "I really feel that it is necessary for the indigenous people to get some education in theology, indigenous' issues, their own languages and many more things."

Sharing the experience of other participants through the Karasjok consultation she noted that, it was useful for her to gain knowledge about the situation with the Sámi people in Norway.

"When I teach students it's an egalitarian situation for me, but during the consultation I have a great empathy and increased my depth of understanding from the participants from all over the world."

Pour cette enseignante, la musique est plus qu'un hobby

Craciela Chamorro, enseignante au Brésil, née au Paraguay, a entonné une chanson au début de sa présentation. "La musique n'est pas pour moi juste un passe-temps, c'est vraiment plus." Forte de sa première expérience d'enseignement universitaire en Allemagne, c'est aujourd'hui au Brésil qu'elle transmet à plus de 200 étudiants d'origine indigène leur histoire et leur culture.

Elle a beaucoup appris des histoires entendues à Karasjok, surtout des Sámis de Norvège, qui peuvent apporter beaucoup aux autres peuples indigènes, par les nombreux pas qu'ils ont parcouru dans la reconnaissance de leur peuple.

From Familiar Namibia to Unknown, Icy Arctic Ground

Sharing stories gives San new tools for life in isolation

We walk carefully towards the inviting lávvu. The traditional Sámi tent is a couple of hundred meters down the icy road. Hand in hand we both hope we will not fall.

Emma Gamros from Namibia is placing her feet on snow for the first time. Her nervous laughter fills the cold Nordic air, wary of a fall. Since she arrived in Karasjok she has experienced how it is to be fully included in a group of like minded people.

"I feel very fortunate to belong to the San community. I just wish other Namibians could respect us as an integral part of the community", Emma declares.
"In Namibia the San people are not accepted. Many Namibian communities don’t even recognize us as proper human beings," rues Emma.

She relates how at many levels, the San people don’t have anything. They struggle to get water, electricity, food and more importantly land to live on in their customary way. In the indigenous conference in Karasjok Emma has yet to meet someone who lives under similar conditions. The deprivation the San people suffer from doesn’t seem to have an equivalence.

Emma find that the stories she has heard from her brothers and sisters have taught her how better to communicate the issues of Namibia’s San people who are said to be one of the oldest people on earth. "The togetherness, warmth and love arms us with new tools to face the struggle as indigenous people in Namibia."

When she goes home Emma wants to continue the fight for her people. There are great challenges: illiteracy, poverty and the alarming prevalence of street children in her town, Gobabis. Emma calls for the Church to get involved and to give the San people a voice.

De sa Namibie familière au cercle arctique glacial et inconnu

Ses pas sont incertains sur le chemin couvert de cette neige qu'elle découvre pour la première fois. Mais elle a aussi découvert ici la joie de faire partie d'un groupe de personnes partageant les mêmes idées. "Je me sens très privilégiée de faire partie du peuple San, j'aimerais juste que les autres Namibiens nous considère comme une part intégrale de la communauté. Certaines communautés Namibiennes ne nous considèrent même pas comme des êtres humains."

Dès son retour en Namibie, Emma souhaite continuer à se battre pour sa communauté qui manque de tellement de choses. Elle repart pleine d'encouragements à la suite de cette conférence : "Etre ensemble, avec chaleur et amour nous arme avec de nouveaux outils pour lutter en tant que peuple indigène en Namibie."

German Missionaries Brought Christianity Says Batak from Indonesia

Youth can't understand liturgy in their parents' language

"Christianity came with a German missionary in 1860. So we have a very young church," says Patia Panjaitan from Jakata Selatm in Indonesia.

In his area of northern part of the Sumatra island Christians are the majority while Muslims are minority. One of the best known German missionaries who brought Christianity to the area was Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen.

He is a member of the Batak, one of 300 tribes in his country and is a member of the Batak Protestant Congregation where he also is involved in welfare work for his own community.

The population in Indonesia is around 245 million people, says Panjaitan, speaking of the world biggest Muslim nation where more than 80 percent are followers of Islam.

"There are five pastors and four churches in my town. The liturgy is in the Batak language and there is a problem the youth can't understand it. Therefore, we have services also in the main Indonesian language," laments Panjaitan noting that the values of young people change fast in the 21st century.

His congregation has 1,500 members, all of whom are Batak.

"In Batak tradition we like to give God something, so God can reciprocate," says Panjaitan. "Even if we are very poor, we give money or something to the pastor, so he can give his sermon as a gift from God."

"Ce sont les Allemands qui ont amené le Christianisme"

Patia Panjaitan, de l'une des 300 tribus Batak du Nord de Sumatra en Indonésie, parle de sa communauté soulignant combien c'est une jeune Église, le premier missionnaire allemand débarquant sur l'île en 1860. Dans la région où il vit les chrétiens sont majoritaires, dans ce pays musulman, le plus peuplé du monde (80% des 245 millions d'habitants).

Il souligne combien la transmission est difficile, alors que "les valeurs des jeunes changent si vite en ce début de 21e siècle. La liturgie est toujours en langue Batak, alors que les jeunes ne parlent plus cette langue". Il pointe cependant combien les traditions bataks sont encore vives au sein de sa paroisse de 1.500 personnes : "La culture du don est encore très présente".

Theology Professor Tries to Reconcile Lutheran and Native American background

'Poverty is No. 1 problem' for American Indians

Rev. Dr "Tink" Tinker bristles when he is asked what his name means.

"Does it make any difference?"

Tink belongs to the North American Osage Nation. He is a professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at the United Methodist Church's Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, United States of America. There he teaches American Indian culture, history, and religious traditions, cross-cultural and Third-World theologies.

His concerns about American Indians are rooted in his own personal identity and history. Raised by a non-Indian Lutheran mother and a Native American father, Tink growls that he has spent much of his life exploring his identity.

"I've tried to hold this tension between these two identities between my mother and father. These are two different worlds. I spent the first part of my life following the path of my mother, now I follow my father's path."

He begins each encounter in a gripping fashion, that sometimes surprises his listeners with its edge, illustrating the relationship between Christian and non-Christian Indians." A well-known Indian singer from an Episcopalian denomination died. Indians came to the funeral to pay their respects and brought with them a traditional chest, singing and performing traditional practices over the body of the deceased. They came before everyone else so as not to offend any Christian with their celebration. While singing, they noticed a priest waiting in the doorway. They immediately stopped, but the priest began the same song again."

Tink works unpaid for the Four Winds American Indian Survival Project in Denver, which provides support for Native Americans. It allows them to have spiritual and ceremonial practices rooted in their ancient traditions and helps them to reestablish their community. He said the project is critical to those who have come over decades from reservations to metropolitan Denver, where there are more than 30,000 Indians in Denver.

"Those living in urban areas face many problems, but poverty is the most important thing. The unemployment rate is over 50 percent, while among people living in reservations this rate is even above 80 percent. Children brought up in such a poverty, without role models, give up school and live without hope."

You can read more about Georges "Tink" Tinker using this link: Illif School of Theology.
You can also read part of George Tink Tinker's next book on the subject "Christology and Colonialism: Jesus, Corn Mother, and Conquest". (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to access this link - pdf/143kb)

Un professeur essaie de réconcilier le luthéranisme avec sa culture indienne

"Tink" fait partie de la nation indienne Osage d'Amérique du Nord. Il enseigne à l'Illiff School of Theology de l'Eglise méthodiste unie. Dans son enseignement des cultures et traditions religieuses indiennes, il essaie de réconcilier les deux cultures dont il est issu. "J'ai essayé de tenir en tension ces deux cultures, celle de ma mère et celle de mon père. J'ai suivi la voie de ma mère pendant la première partie de ma vie, maintenant, je suis la voie de mon père."

Le professeur Georges "Tink" Tinker, élevé par une mère luthérienne non-indienne et un père indien, cherche aujourd'hui à aider ceux de son peuple à renouer avec leurs traditions. Il souligne cependant que la pauvreté est le plus grand fléau auquel doit faire face son peuple aujourd'hui.

Vous trouverez, plus d'information sur Georges "Tink" Tinker en suivant le lien: Illif School of Theology.
Vous pouvez également lire sur ce sujet des extraits du prochain livre de Georges Tink Tinker "Christology and Colonialism: Jesus, Corn Mother, and Conquest" (en anglais seulement. Utilisez Adobe Acrobat Reader pour ouvrir ce fichier - pdf/143ko).

The Telling of Stories During Bible Study

Each of us comes from a story; are you listening?

Donna Bomberry enters the podium early in the morning. It's time for Bible study, time to hear about indigenous gifts and our walk with God and one another.

Together with the words from the Church in Canada, Donna talks about how each of us comes from a story.

The challenge to the Church and to us is whether we are listening for the stories to be told.

”Each one of us comes from a story, are you listening?" says Donna who is Cayuga, one of Six Nations Iroquois of the Grand River in Ontario, Canada. Donna works for the Anglican Church of Canada.

Donna reminds us how we all come with many gifts to share in our walk with God and one another.

“The walk goes towards justice, healing, reconciliation and new life. As indigenous people, the spiritual gifts are also indigenous. They are to be used within our different communities in this walk. We are to use these gifts to enlighten the world we participate in.”

Donna issues a couple of questions for the group to reflect upon.

"How are we to share our gifts to the community we live in, and what does indigenous people have in common, in spite of all their diversity?"

Towards the end of her message she says that these indigenous gifts, the ones that are to be used in the community we live in, really make up our spirituality.

Raconter des histoires pendant une étude biblique

L'étude biblique de Donna Bomberry est l'occasion pour chacun de raconter son histoire. Pasteur de l'Église anglicane du Canada, elle considère que "le défi pour l'Église est d'offrir un espace où ces histoires peuvent être entendues."

Dans la marche vers la justice, la guérison, la réconciliation et une vie nouvelle, les peuples indigènes ont aussi à offrir leurs dons spirituels : "Nous devons les utiliser dans cette marche commune qui est la nôtre. Nous devons utiliser ces dons pour illuminer ce monde auquel nous participons." En binôme, les participants ont cherché à répondre à ces questions : comment pouvons nous partager nos dons avec l'ensemble de la communauté à laquelle nous appartenons? Qu'avons, peuples indigènes, à offrir en commun, malgré notre diversité?