What’s Your Response To ​Dr. Richard Twiss’ Questions?

By Kenny Jahng

regalia bustle

History can be a tricky thing. By studying it, though, we can learn much about humanity and about ourselves. In the Bible, we can encounter many different cultures and lifestyles to which the word of God was carried. Even in the book of Acts, the word of God spread throughout the New England region across cultures, ethnicities, and languages. Many of us might not know very much when it comes to discussing Native American Ministries Sunday, a Special Sunday in May. But, the important thing to understand is that we can choose a different path than that which our history depicts with the Native American People. The United Methodist Church, Native and non-Native, are working together to create a new history. One that respects the culture, and loves God.

The New History

Dr. Richard Twiss, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, asked: “Will we be allowed to develop new ways of doing church that honor God’s purposes for the creative expression of our cultures? Will new ministry partnerships and coalitions form? Will you help be apart of this wonderful process of reconciliation, restoration and release?” On Native American Ministries Sunday, we have the opportunity to respond to Dr. Twiss’ questions with a resounding YES! This is a Special Sunday where our generosity as a church equips and empowers Native American pastors, congregations and seminary students to do what only they can do: authentically worship and serve Jesus.

Informed by History, and Choosing to Give

It’s true. We do have a complicated history with the Native American people. And today it is still painful for many. In all honesty, many Native American communities have been marginalized, live in extreme poverty and have lost the land they were forced to live on. High school graduation rates and quality of housing falls much lower than the national average in Native American communities. How do we, informed by history and called by Christ, offer them living hope? We do it by pouring into the Native American pastors, congregations, and seminary students who need resources to strengthen their skills to equip their congregations to be agents of transformation in their local communities. And that is what we do, together, on Native American Ministries Sunday. Join us by giving generously on ​Native American Ministries Sunday​. Join us as we say yes.

conam indigenous

Boston Indigenous Peoples’ Day Protest

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Park Street station on Boston Common October 11th, 2020 in the afternoon and marched to the downtown waterfront to denounce Christopher Columbus and show their support for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

One of our committee members was there showing their support and shared these photos from the protest.


Maine replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

On April 26, 2019, Governor Janet Mills signed into law a bill to enact Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Maine joins a handful of states that have now changed the holiday. The bill was sponsored by Representative Benjamin Collings of Portland. It passed with bipartisan support in the Legislature. Representatives from the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Nation, and the Houlton Band of Maliseets were present at the signing of the bill.

Abolish Columbus Day!
Let’s work to abolish Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

CONAM Table at the 2019 New England Conference

NECONAM had a table at the 2019 New England Conference Annual Session. These are photos of our display.


Indigenous Peoples’ Day

On October 14 2019, Maine and Vermont will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day. This is a great step forward for indigenous people in New England and beyond. New England CONAM is recommending local churches in the entire conference and the New England Conference to stand together with this movement. As part of our Acts of Repentance, we can provide an example to those in our communities that we stand with those indigenous communities around our conference.

What we learned in school history books is only part of the story. Columbus initiated his transatlantic slave trade in 1494 when he send dozens of Taínos to Spain. Then in 1495, Columbus ordered some 1600 Taínos rounded up and 550 of them sent to Spain as slaves. From the beginning, Columbus was not on a mission to discover, but a mission to exploit and conquest. Taínos were forced into a tribute system and forced to find gold. If they failed, the Taínos were punished. This punishment took some ugly forms, from cutting off hands to being chased down by attack dogs. The wood cut below depicts a brutal scene of what the Taínos endured.

A woodcut by Theodor De Bry, in the 16th century, based on the writings of Bartolome de las Casas.

In the book The Conquest of Paradise, Kirkpatrick Sale depicts the scene where Columbus’s men encountered a group of Taínos in March 1495 in Hispaniola.

The soldiers mowed down dozens with point-blank volleys, loosed the dogs to rip open limbs and bellies, chased fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike, and [according to Columbus’s biographer, his son Fernando] “with God’s aid soon gained a complete victory, killing many Indians and capturing others who were also killed.”


Too often, the Columbus story only depicts Columbus planting a flag on “San Salvador”, children learn the three ships names, but that is about it. The Taínos don’t have a voice in most history books that are in schools today.

How do we change the narrative? We start by educating those around us with the other side of the story. We have provided some resources below for those who would like to educate themselves or provide another voice at the table.


Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years edited by Bill Bigelow
All the Real Indians Died Off And 20 Other Myths by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Columbus: His Enterprise by Hans Koning
Christopher Columbus and the Conquest of Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Abolish Columbus Day!
Let’s work to abolish Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

MMIWG Awareness

Four out of five Native women are affected by violence today. #MMIWG is to shine a light on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. The infographic below gives some high level statistics regarding this issue.

MMIWG Infographic

Urban Indian Health Institute published a report in 2018 regarding the U.S. related data.

In Indian country, families sometimes wait days for the authorities to respond, and frequently lead the only search parties. What’s worse, sometimes the record of that missing indigenous person isn’t documented, leaving questions unanswered for decades, leading to gaps in information, missing person cases unsolved and perpetrators roaming the streets.

Debra Haaland

Not Invisible

Native American women and girls face an epidemic of violence and indifference in the US. Over recent decades, thousands are believed to have disappeared, but the exact number and their fates are unknown because there is no single federal database tracking the missing.

Red Dress Project

The REDress Project, focuses around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. It is an installation art project based on an aesthetic response to this critical national issue. The project seeks to collect 600 red dresses by community donation that will later be installed in public spaces throughout Winnipeg and across Canada as a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us. Through the installation the artist hopes to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence. The image below is a portion of an installation at the National Museum of American Indian in Washington, DC.

Red Dress Project at NMAI

Wabenaki Food Security

Recently, New England CONAM donated funds to help indigenous tribes within Maine to improve food security. During this COVID-19 crisis, many people are not able to work, without a safety net to catch them. The pandemic has hit BIPoC individuals harder than other populations.

You can be part of this call to action by:

1. Making a donation to the REACH Community Response Fund at Call to Action: Wabanaki Food Security

2. Sending a check directly to one of the Wabanaki communities’ food pantries:

  • Penobscot Nation Food Pantry, 12 Wabanaki Way, Indian Island, ME 04468
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point Food Pantry, PO Box 343, Perry, ME 04667
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township Food Pantry, PO Box 301, Princeton, ME 04668
  • Aroostook Band of Micmacs Food Bank, 7 Northern Rd., Presque Isle, ME 04736
  • Houlton Band of Maliseets Food Pantry, 88 Bell Road, Littleton, ME 04730

3. Making a donation to Eastern Woodlands Rematriation in support of Wabanaki food sovereignty making an payment:

  • Online at
  • By sending a check to Why Hunger, 505 Eighth Ave, Suite 2100, NY, NY 10018
    Put Eastern Woodlands Rematriation in the subject line.
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