An Open Letter to Pastor Kathy Nelson and the Dismantling Racism Committee of the Peace United Church of Christ in Duluth, Minnesota
Recently, I was told that your months-old invitation to me to preach to your congregation on February 5 has been withdrawn because of the alleged protests of two unidentified “native men”, who claim that I, a Euro-Canadian, am not competent and have no right to speak about the genocide inflicted by my people on aboriginal children.
I’ll leave aside, for the moment, the perplexing question of how two unnamed people who are not from your congregation can unilaterally censor and ban a guest preacher on the basis of innuendo and hearsay – especially within a liberal church that prides itself on its progressiveness. Let’s look instead at the heart of the accusation against me, which is that I am “trying to speak for native people”, to quote one of these faceless, alleged critics.
It’s not a new charge, but like all lies, it’s one devoid of any substance.
A man who confronts the rape of women isn’t trying to speak for victims: he’s attempting to stop and uproot male supremacy and violence. I don’t have to be a Jew, and certainly am not trying to be one, when I investigate and condemn Hitler’s slaughter of European Jewry. And America’s civil rights movement would have failed had not those from the white society stood arm in arm with black people and defeated Jim Crow laws.
Frankly, it’s only when those from the guilty culture open the lid on their own crimes that the latter have any hope of being dealt with: a truth that the Nuremberg indictments proved to posterity.
Despite my having been adopted into and given a name by elders of three indigenous nations, and my authorization by these elders of the Mohawks, the Anishnabe and the Squamish nations to investigate and speak publicly about the murder of their relatives in Christian internment camps, I have never tried nor claimed to speak for or represent native people, or the survivors of our home-grown genocide. For almost twenty years, I have done the opposite, and that is, to expose and confront the crimes of my own people, and my former denomination.
Since 1993, I’ve done so relentlessly, without pay or recognition, and in the face of enormous personal loss and unrelenting attacks by church and state.
I’ve personally interviewed over a thousand survivors of the residential schools holocaust, published their stories in books and film, brought their cases to court, counseled and stood by those native men and women when their own “leaders” refused to do so, presided at their funerals, and created a public storm aimed at mainstream Canada, all so that the survivors themselves could find their own voice and win justice on their own terms.
Anyone who has witnessed my work up close, or who follows my story, knows this to be true.
Sometimes, I’ve been accused of being “crazy” for doing this work, and daring to show that children died at the hands of publicly-funded Catholic and Protestant churches. Since none of the many documents, eyewitness testimonies, and forensic remains from Indian residential school graves that I’ve publicized are imagined, and since this evidence clearly confirms what I’ve been claiming, I’ll leave it to you to decide who is the one being “delusional” when my critics deny these realities, and choose instead to try to discredit me with name calling.
In truth, my most recent critics who contacted you are not among those who have witnessed firsthand what I have uncovered and who I am. Like those who stand to lose by my exposure of mainstream North America’s crimes against humanity, they seek to disparage me from a distance, using rumor, innuendo and outright lies to convince unsuspecting people that I am an unstable, nefarious creature, out to profit from and exploit battered residential school survivors – without ever offering any evidence.
Again, this is not a recent slander. It was actually cooked up in the summer of 1998 by David Iverson, a national officer with the United Church of Canada, along with Inspector Peter Montague of the “E” Division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Vancouver, who launched the dirty tricks campaign against me which is still in operation, as we can see from the recent fiasco at your church.
This black ops campaign to discredit me began after I had brought to light the complicity of government-funded aboriginal chiefs in the present-day sexual trafficking of their native children: “chiefs” who are indispensable to the Canadian government in signing away the lands and resources of their own people.
The homogenous thing called “Indians” is a colonial invention, and not all native people stand against the genocidal actions of church and state on this continent. Some, indeed, profit very well by their allegiance to the very system that slaughtered and imprisons their people. That’s always how the European scheme of Divide and Conquer has worked.
So it isn’t too much of a surprise when state-funded, affluent native politicians, who as children often helped abuse and discipline their fellow students in residential schools, come out so strongly against me and my efforts to expose the real story of these crimes. For in any North American equivalent of a Nuremberg Tribunal, these aboriginals, as well as “white” church and government officials, will be standing in the dock of judgment.
These collaborating Indians, including the Assembly of First Nations and other puppet groups, will have to explain at such a Tribunal why they never indicted Canada and Christendom for the slaughter of their own people – and why they personally profited off that slaughter, and the selling off and desecration of their peoples’ ancestral lands.
To quote one of my sponsors, elder Bill Squire of the sovereign Mohawk Nation of the Grand River in Brantford, Ontario:
It’s not the whites who are the big problem anymore, but our own leaders. The chiefs and band councils have not once helped us bring home the kids murdered at residential school for a proper burial. They are never there when we’re in front of the bulldozers, trying to save what’s left of our land. They’re paid by the feds to sit there and do nothing. The time for that is over.
Your precipitous action in suddenly excluding me from your midst will have an impact beyond simply censoring an inconvenient truth. For, as an adopted member of Bill Squire’s Grand River Mohawk community, I do not speak and act alone, but operate under the protection of that nation, as was affirmed publicly last year when I was given by them the name Rawennatshani, “He who warns the people with a strong and wise voice”. And so your decision to censor and stop my efforts to share the truth of the holocaust made against the Mohawk people is also directed against their nation, who are an affiliated part of our global campaign known as The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State. (www.itccs.org)
If we are to ever end the terrible legacy of racism and genocide, we must surrender the false divisions and labels that separate humanity, and discover again the common ground that unites us all. We, the settler nations who planned and committed the biggest genocide in human history, and who still conceal it, are precisely the ones who must take responsibility for it. That is my purpose, and the intention of our International Tribunal.
Unfortunately, your action in censoring this topic from your church because of an anonymous complaint is setting back any serious effort to hold our culture accountable under moral and international law. You have indeed avoided such accountability under the guise of a dubious “political correctness” – an absurd fallacy, really – that claims that only Indians can address this issue.
I have welcomed a broad-based aboriginal involvement in my work and our campaign from the beginning. Unfortunately, none of the “professionals” in the native world – Indian lawyers, academics, and politicians – have readily taken up this invitation, and challenge. On the contrary, these largely government-paid aboriginal elites have shied away from seriously confronting church and state for their crimes, or standing with the residential school survivors themselves. When these professionals begin to do so, I will take their remarks and criticisms of me and my work more seriously.
Until then, I urge you to take the hard but necessary step of looking at the evidence of deliberate genocide by your culture, and religion, and undergo the spiritual and social transformation that alone can bring about justice and genuine recovery from this horrible legacy.
I welcome you in this effort, for in truth, it is an exciting opportunity for we as the heirs of a dark tradition to cast off that legacy, and reinvent ourselves according to the Great Law of Peace: specifically, through the Two Row Wampum Treaty of Equality to share the land in harmony, that was offered by the indigenous nations to our ancestors when they first arrived on this continent.
As one who has been commissioned by the Onkwehon:we (Mohawk) and Haudenosonee (Iroquois) nations to share this Great Law with my own people, I offer it to you today in friendship, and I invite you to step out of the past, towards a new allegiance, and a new identity.
Rev. Kevin D. Annett – Eagle Strong Voice