Indigenous Peoples Day resources

Looking for ways to mark Indigenous Peoples Day/Columbus Day on October 10? The UUA’s Multicultural Growth and Witness Staff Group has 10. They include the following:

• Find out whose land your congregation’s building was built on.

• Lobby your public officials to rename Columbus Day. South Dakota calls it “Native Americans Day.” Dane County, Wisconsin, calls it “Indigenous Peoples Day.” So do the cities of Berkeley, Sebastopol, and Santa Cruz, California.

• Connect with nearby Native communities

• Engage with “Immigration as a Moral Issue,” the 2010–2014 Congregational Study/Action Issue.

The whole list is here. There is also a section on Justice for Native Peoples about issues that face them and how to connect with them.

Alex Kapitan, Congregational Justice administrator, said his office is making a special effort this year to engage congregations with this annual day. “We want to be more intentional about encouraging congregations to celebrate this holiday and to make it more of a solid part of the liturgical calendar.”

He added, “Indigenous Peoples Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate indigenous resistance.”

Common Read of ‘Josseline’ continues

“How far would you go to feed your children?” That’s one of the questions raised in the book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands, about the struggles that face Mexicans and people from Central America as they try to cross the border between the United States and Mexico in an effort to survive.

Several hundred die each year, including 14-year-old Josseline, whose body was found in the desert in 2008. The Death of Josseline is a UUA “Common Read” this year, meaning that all congregations are encouraged to read the book, discuss it, and use it in sermons and in other ways.

The book is available in paperback for $15, with discounts for buying five or more copies, from the UUA Bookstore. Bookstore Manager Rose Hanig says they have sold more than 1,100 copies. Gail Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Adult Programs director, adds, “Winter is a great time for congregations to join the many other congregations where this book is being read. This is a book that begs for processing and conversation in a trusted community.”

Linda Laskowski, a member of the UUA Board of Trustees and the UU Church of Berkeley, Calif., has written about the book on her blog. Forsyth-Vail says the author of the book, Margaret Regan, will be at General Assembly next June to discuss the book and talk with those who took part in the Common Read.

Encounters: poetry about race and identity

Looking for a book that will launch discussions about race and ethnicity and provide insights into how we regard ourselves and how we react to others who are not like us?

Skinner House has just published Encounters, a book of poems “about race, ethnicity and identity.” Around 80 poems, mostly by contemporary poets, have been compiled by Paula Cole Jones. Jones is the founder of ADORE (A Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity), a former president of DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries), a consultant in multicultural competencies and institutional change, and Racial and Social Justice director for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Joseph Priestley District.

The book, published by Skinner House, is $14 and is available from the UUA Bookstore. Jones says poems from Encounters will be useful for Sunday morning readings, discussion topics for religious educators, and as springboards for small group ministry and youth group discussions, as well as being helpful to individuals seeking to further their own knowledge around identity and understand more about people who may not be like them.

Encounters is full of stories about, well, encounters––the black man puzzled by a friendly greeting from a white teen with dreadlocks and a Confederate flag tattoo––the Japanese girl who wanted to look Caucasian––the white woman and black man eyeing each other on the subway.

“Encounters can help people become aware of stories beyond their own,” says Jones. “We tend not to know the intimate experiences of other people. These poets help us know what no one person can know. We encounter people, and sometimes we have very little knowledge of the depth and the kind of searing wounding that racialized society has done since its beginning. It helps us see what we’re up against if we’re going to heal ourselves. And heal the world.”

‘Building the World’ curriculum about transformation

Building the World We Dream About is a new UUA curriculum that supports the creation of multicultural congregations. The program seeks to transform how we relate to one another across racial and ethnic differences in our congregations and beyond.

Adult congregants engage in either 13 or 24 two-hour workshops. There are also take-home activities between sessions. The curriculum is available online at no charge as part of the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith curricula. For more information email Janice Marie Johnson, director of the Office of Racial and Ethnic Concerns.