8th assembly/50th anniversary

Together on the Way
8.6. Appeal from the Indigenous Peoples:
"Why are we still waiting?"

"We are still waiting... for true partnership, for full recognition of our rights."

By the grace of the Creator and guided by our ancestors we, the Indigenous Peoples, celebrate our survival. We have survived in spite of the racism of genocide, colonization, assimilation and development. The earth is our Mother and is therefore sacred. We affirm our identities, cultures, languages, philosophies of life, spiritualities and the sacredness of our lands. These are linked to the balanced relationship with all of creation.

Historically and still today, the churches have compelled us to engage in an ecclesial and theological journey culminating in assimilation, uniformity and assent. The churches have not known or understood Indigenous Peoples, to the impoverishment of everyone.

Our lives, our spiritualities, our languages and our cultures as distinct peoples are constantly under threat. We are threatened by mining, wildlife conservation, deforestation, commercial long-line fishing, hydro-electric dams, militarization, nuclear dumping and testing, eco-tourism and other projects. Modern state boundaries are colonial constructions that fragment and interfere with the way of life of our peoples. Our sacred sites have been and are still being desecrated. These threats came with the colonizer and are perpetuated today by models of development that seek to exploit our natural resources without regard for future generations.

We acknowledge that the WCC and some of its member churches have made efforts towards understanding and working with Indigenous Peoples in our struggles, but much more needs to be done. The enrichment of the churches and the healing of Indigenous communities must begin with a viable and meaningful ongoing commitment to collaboration and partnership. This partnership requires a radical change of heart in the churches. There must be an acknowledgment that the churches have benefited from unjust political and economic structures that they have helped to create. Change must come not just because the churches have to but because they want to -- as a response to gospel imperative. We would urge that the member churches hear our stories again and experience from within them the churches' historic role in oppression.

We therefore challenge the WCC and its member churches:

We celebrate the 50th anniversary of the WCC, but we remind our sisters and brothers of the member churches of the need for the restoration of the land and the liberation of the oppressed.

Go to 8.7a. Responses from Evangelical Participants
Return to Together on the Way contents page
Return to Assembly Archive index

© 1999 world council of churches | remarks to webeditor