conam indigenous

The 4 Cs of Cross-Cultural Outreach

Reverend Calvin Hill outlines the four “C’s” of Cross-Cultural Outreach and Discipleship from the Indigenous perspective in a recent article written for the UMC Discipleship Ministries website.

Rev. Hill gives clear instructions to decolonize our liturgies and rituals. He outlines the ways that Clarity, Consistency, Communication, and Compassion are needed.

Today’s Indigenous People do not want to maintain assimilation rituals. Many know the reality of spirituality and want expressions of spiritual formation that ensure the survival of creation.

Read the entire article at:

indigenous Wabenaki

Permanent Commission Statement on Failed Vote to Override Farmworker Minimum Wage Veto

July 25, 2023
Contact: Morgan Pottle Urquhart, 207-659-4064,
Ariel Ricci, 207-530-7437
AUGUSTA – The Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Tribal Populations issued the following statement after the Maine House of Representatives failed by a vote of 61 to 61 to override Governor Mills’ veto of LD 398,“An Act to Make Agricultural Workers and Other Related Workers Employees under the Wage and Hour Laws.” The bill would have established farmworkers as employees under Maine law, making them eligible to be paid the state’s minimum wage.  
“We are disappointed that this modest compromise legislation fell to the pressure of agricultural lobbying groups. These groups had a seat at the table at every stage of the negotiations –negotiations that stripped the bill of most of the provisions that would have provided real worker protections for the people whose labor puts food on our tables,” said Morgan Pottle Urquhart, Policy and Communications Director of the Permanent Commission. “When groups benefit from an unjust status quo, they have no incentive to change the system.”
“We grant minimum wage protections to workers throughout our country, yet deny these protections to farmworkers due to systemic racism and historic marginalization,” said Commissioner Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez, who also serves as the Executive Director of Mano en Mano, an organization that works with farmworkers statewide and immigrants in Downeast Maine to empower them to thrive. “Farmworkers are the backbone of the potato, blueberry and seafood harvests- the iconic products of Maine. They are an essential part of what makes our economy strong, and communities vibrant- yet they are not afforded basic rights. This bill had the potential to support farmworkers in a small step towards justice, towards redistributing power and resources, and towards making Maine a healthier place. Our community deserves more than the bare minimum – which was again denied today. We will keep working alongside our community to advocate for justice.”
The Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Tribal Populations was established in 2019, with the enactment of LD 777 and began its work in late 2021, after receiving its first funding with the enactment of LD 1034. The Permanent Commission has a mission to examine racial disparities across all systems with a goal of improving the status and outcomes for historically disadvantaged racial, Indigenous, and tribal populations in the state. The Permanent Commission is empowered to advise all three branches of Maine government and to introduce legislation. More information about the Permanent Commission’s work can be found on its website:

conam indigenous

Book Resources

Book Resources

The Committee on Native American Ministries has created this list of book resources to allow people to educate themselves on Indigenous culture, New England contexts of Indigenous people and some of the issues that face Indigenous people.

NEAC Book Recommendations

conam indigenous

Decolonizing Local Histories

This November, during Indigenous Peoples’ History Month, the New England Conference Committee on Native American Ministries is encouraging churches in the New England churches to challenge the histories in their towns and cities. Too often, city and town histories are white washed and Indigenous stories are lost or misrepresented. 

Stories are often told by the victor, and in most cases these stories are written by white individuals that lived in these places soon after the events they are writing about. This is a chance to learn more about the history of the town or city that you live in. As you read through accounts, think about what voices are missing from the story, how biased these stories may be. Think about the contributions made by the Indigenous people that lived or live in your area. Locate individuals who may know more about the real histories of the area, the stories that need to be told from an Indigenous view point. Reach out to schools to find out how they are teaching about the local Indigenous history.

We encourage churches and individuals to start the work of decolonizing history. This is important work. The more diverse stories there are at the table, the richer the understanding of that history can be. 

The principles of the decolonizing Indigenous framework. Adapted from “The Decolonizing Interpretive Research Methodology” in Decolonizing Interpretive Research: A Subaltern Methodology for Social Change, by A. Darder (2019). New York, NY: Routledge. Copyright 2019 by Routledge.

This map depicts at least one interpretation of what Indigenous entity (tribe or band) lived or lives in the New England area. 

New England Indigenous lands map

Find an interactive map of Indigenous lands here

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Honoring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Back in May 2022, our committee created an important video to encourage people to wear RED to honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The video can be viewed here.

One of our members, Todd Warfield, worked with St. John’s United Methodist Church to create a Red Dress Art Display. Over twenty red dresses were put on display outside on the church grounds. Two dresses were displayed within the front entry way of the church as well to remind those worshipping that Sunday of the event and the cause. Individuals were provided a brochure explaining why this exhibit existed and how to donate toward Strong Hearts, which is an Indigenous organization that helps Indigenous women that are dealing with domestic and sexual abuse.

conam mmiwg

MMIWG Awareness

MMIWG Awareness

The New England Committee on Native American Ministries created a video for churches to use for Native American Ministries Sunday. It is designed to bring awareness to the issue of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and encouraging individuals to wear red on May 5th. May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. The video is available here.

conam indigenous

Justice Sought for Boarding Schools

Education is a crucial first step

The New England Conference Committee on Native American Ministries encourages everyone to read this important story by United Methodist News on the history and impact of Native American Boarding Schools.

Here’s the link to the UM News story:


Day of repentance called for Oct. 6

The Native American International Caucus of The United Methodist Church is calling on United Methodists to observe Oct. 6 this year as a day of truth and repentance for children who were victims of Indian boarding schools.

Read the press release


Act of Repentance – 2015

In 2015, at Annual Conference, the New England Conference held their Act of Repentance service. Jesus taught in parables, in stories, including the parable of the sower that offers images of the kind of conditions in which things cannot grow, in which things cannot flourish and increase and yield their most. And Jesus reminds us that we must listen deeply in order to learn and to change. In our opening worship, we engage in the beginning of an Act of Repentance regarding the Church’s history of the oppression of indigenous persons.

Pat Warrior Woman Parent, chair of the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM), speaks during the Act of Repentance service.

This service is not a one-time ritual that brings this tragic history to a close; rather it is part of the process of repentance that requires action beyond this day. For this worship, it is an act of listening, of acknowledging, and a commitment to continue learning, healing and “turning around” our actions and policies as a church and in our local communities.

During the Act of Repentance, the Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett recounted some of the history of Native Americans, the Trails of Tears (as he said there were more than one), the use of the Doctrine of Discovery to justify atrocities, the Indian boarding schools where mass graves of children have been found, and the fact that our founding fathers drew ideas from the democratic principles of the Haudenosaunee, the six nations of the Iroquois.

Rev Thomas White Wolf Fassett
Rev Thomas White Wolf Fassett

“If you don’t like history, you don’t have to,” he told members. “You’re not going to take a test; you don’t have to remember dates. But what we have to know is what this vast panorama looks like, what this sweep of history is. What is it to talk about history as theology? … Can we trace history and mark the places where people of faith influenced the outcome of these historic moments.”

And this history, Fassett said, is still alive today because laws that grew out of this past are still on the books and still influencing how people live – including the Doctrine of Discovery, which is still be referenced in current decisions by the Supreme Court.

The Act of Repentance, he said, is not just about the indigenous people of the Americas but those throughout the world who have faced similar challenges – including the indigenous people of Australia, who were not recognized as human beings until the 1960s.

The questions for United Methodists, he said, are “What is the circle of hope? How are we part of the circle? Where are we holding on to each other’s hands?”

“… we may be uncomfortable with that kind of proximity,” Fassett said, “It may be difficult for us to open our hearts … but How do we learn how to express “mitakuye oyesin” (pronounced matakquiase) or ‘all my relations’?”

Because “like it or not, we are all related,” he said.

There is a process developing among indigenous people – particularly in the Americas – to reclaim that sense of family and community.

The Lakota Sioux of the Dakotas are in the midst of a process for “developing community, of claiming family and understanding … how they are to be community together, and find unity (in order) to reconnect the sacred circle.” For native Hawaiians that connection is called ohana or family.

“This is happening in Native nations … around the world where we are struggling to find community,” Fassett said. “If we are thinking and Rethinking Church, why not be thinking about how to reclaim the sacred circle and claim community and claim family, emotionally, and claim unity in the context of the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

Members were invited to take rocks from the “rivers” around the Armory to bring back to their churches as “messenger and witness” to the repentance and actions promised here this day. Among those promises were the commitments made by members of the Conference Cabinet.

Pat Warrior Woman Parent, chair of the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM), also spoke during the Act of Repentance.

The Cabinet spoke of their commitment to going beyond the words of the Act of Repentance to actions that the conference will take to build relationships with Native peoples.

Cabinet members committed as individuals to:

  • Learn all we can about the history of Native and indigenous peoples in our area and beyond.
  • Share what we learn with others. Spread the word, talk with family, friends and co-workers about history; help educate town leaders, civic organizations and community members; host educational awareness events.
  • Continue to explore our own privilege, prejudices and assumptions about Native peoples.
  • Look for ways to become an ally to Native and indigenous peoples.
  • Learn about who we are and from where we have come, and honor our own heritage.
  • Speak up.

And on behalf of the Conference, they agreed to:

  • Build relationships with Native peoples based on equality within the conference and beyond by listening and learning rather than teaching and leading.
  • Build trust by respecting Native expressions of Spirituality by involving Native Americans in planning and/or leading activities such as Native American Sunday for our local church worship services, Native American Camp experiences at our camp and retreat ministries, and educational opportunities.
  • Help keep Native culture alive by providing opportunities for children and youth to experience and explore the indigenous culture.

As a Conference:

  • Affirm the commitment to empowering the presence of Native and indigenous people in the life of the New England Annual Conference.
  • Strengthen awareness and support of Native American Ministries Sunday in the New England Conference.
  • Strengthen and be supportive of the New England Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM).
  • Support General Advances and churchwide funding for 22 Native ministries
  • Commit ourselves to resourcing and development of new Native and indigenous ministries
  • Commit to developing relationships of mutuality with Native peoples in local contexts.
  • Continue to provide education for non-Native people about why the Act of Repentance is important.

In partnership with Native ministry leaders and resource people throughout the Connection, the New England Conference will support:

  • Developing new Native and indigenous leaders across the Connection including an increased number of people nurtured for service in congregational, annual conference, jurisdictional and central conference, and general church ministries, including the episcopacy.
  • Support General Church initiatives related to land and treaty rights, support for tribal sovereignty and cultural preservation; better health care and education for Native people and the safety of Native and indigenous women.

The offering was received for the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM).


Reflections on Carlisle

by Todd Warfield

I am a member of the New England Conference Committee on Native American Ministries and as such I get to attend regional meetings. This year, our yearly meeting was held in Carlisle, PA. I knew we were going to tour the Carlisle Barracks, which is where the Carlisle Indian School was in the late 1800’s through early 1900’s. For those who don’t know, Indian boarding schools became a way to deal with the Indian “problem”. In the beginning, Army Lt. Richard Henry Pratt was in charge of 72 Indian prisoners who had been fighting the Army in the southern plains. Pratt transported these Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo prisoners halfway across the continent to St. Augustine, Florida. (Ironically, St. Augustine had been the first Spanish settlement in North America.) It was a terrifying experience for the transplanted Indians. The experiment seemed to work. By April 1878, 62 of the younger, more easily educated Indians joined the Hampton Institute in Virginia – a “normal school” or teacher training institute founded by abolitionists for blacks. Pratt’s savage warriors were on their way to becoming teachers. Pratt publicized the success of the experiment through a series of “then-and-now” photos showing the “savage” versus the “civilized” Indians. Pratt coined the phrase “Kill the Indian, save the man”.

A before and after photo from Carlisle Indian School
A before and after photo from Carlisle Indian School

   Most notable was the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. Lt. Pratt convinced parents and tribal elders to send their children by train to a far-off place. Pratt believed this would break the students quicker of their ties to their traditions. Students were prohibited from speaking their native languages. Instead, they were supposed to converse and even think in English. If they were caught “speaking Indian”, they would be severely beaten with a leather belt. Between 1880 and 1902, 25 off-reservation boarding schools were built and 20,000 – 30,000 Native American children went through the system. That was roughly 10 percent of the total Indian population in 1900.

   Visiting the grounds at Carlisle was an emotional experience for me. I could feel the presence of those who went here. We toured the Hessian Powder Magazine, a small brick structure, which some Indians were held in solitary confinement. We toured the parade grounds and saw photos of different trade classes from that era. At the end of our tour, we visited the graveyard where some of the Indian children were re-buried from elsewhere on the base. Words cannot properly describe the emotions that washed over me when we were in that graveyard. We had some tobacco to spread and I prayed over several stones.

Praying over the graves at Carlisle
Praying over the graves at Carlisle

Andrew Windyboy (Cree) was interviewed back in 2008 and his interview is available on YouTube ( I would recommend watching it to hear the story from someone who went through the school.

Unknown graves in Carlisle Indian cemetery
Unknown graves in Carlisle Indian cemetery

Finding ways to fulfill our vow to stand with Native Nations

Patricia Warrior Woman Parent, chair New England Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM), shares this piece on how United Methodists in New England can fulfill our vow at the 2015 Annual Conference to stand with and support our Native American brothers and sisters.

“And so this is Christmas – and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.”

So wrote the late John Lennon many years ago, a question of challenge to the complacent who have, about those who have not. I was thinking of this song as I put together my thoughts for this piece.

At our 2015 Annual Conference, we repented and made a vow. As a church we asked forgiveness of the Native American community for our collective part in marginalizing them, robbing them of their land, their dignity, their culture and their children. We made a vow to stand with First Nations on issues that concern them, and to stand against the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, a law of our land since John Marshall was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the problems for us as European descendants is that we are so steeped in our heritage of privilege and “knowing what is best” that we don’t know just how to go about standing with Native people in a way that will build trust instead of adding to the suspicion with which those who came before us are viewed.

How, how, how do we go about this? It takes a lot of time, yes, but it takes something else as well: It takes quietly acting, just doing it, and letting those with whom we stand see us there, asking nothing, and offering ourselves.

We have found some incredible examples in North Dakota recently. If you don’t know about Standing Rock and the Water Protectors, I strongly urge you to check it out and learn all you can.

The world is now meeting there. They have been since summer 2016. The Lakota people stood up and said, “NO!” to big oil when their water supply was threatened by a pipeline that would only supply more oil for sale overseas. They were alone. Yet they stood. And then other Native Nations started arriving. Then other countries around the world. The Conference of the Dakotas decided to honor their vow as well. The world is still at Standing Rock.

On the day that money for Penobscot people from Maine arrived from your New England Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) (yes, they are there as well), two cord of wood and 20 yurts from Mongolia arrived as well.

However, the example I want to give to all of us is that of 4,000 veterans; 4,000 veterans who rode buses, drove, and, yes, walked 200 miles to meet at Standing Rock to stand between the people and law enforcement who let loose attack dogs on children and fire hoses on people in freezing weather. They also retrieved stolen canoes and tore down razor wire.

Some of these were veterans of Vietnam, and one of them told the Lakota that he came home from Vietnam knowing shame because of how he was treated. He thanked the Native people for giving him honor.

And one day, the veterans met with the Lakota and took a knee before them. Their spokesman, John Clarke, veteran and son of a veteran, told of how we have taken land, participated in genocide, and still continue to do so, and then he asked for forgiveness and offered them all to be servants of the Native people.

I watched this ceremony, and I wept. THIS is what we all need to do. These veterans, although they have returned to their homes, are ready to go back whenever needed. They didn’t talk about it, they didn’t ask what the Lakota needed – they came. This is our example.

Your CONAM can only give funds to Native Nations in New England, but individuals can find out what is needed at Standing Rock – warm clothes, wood, generators. They are using barbecues – maybe they need briquettes.

And we can find out about issues closer to us by checking out newspaper articles, websites for the local nations, and by asking your CONAM for assistance in getting out and doing. Be there first – and let your actions speak for you – for us.

The old saying goes, “Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

Let’s all get walking.

Aquiene (peace),
Patricia Warrior Woman Parent

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