Resolution on the 500th Anniversary of Columbus (General Conference Mennonite Church, 1989)

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Resolution on the 500th Anniversary of Columbus (GCMC, 1989)


The year 1992 is the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the western hemisphere and his "discovery" of the people he named Indians. Thus began a history of the conquest and displacement of the native peoples of the Americas and the destruction of their cultures. Monuments, textbooks and popular films still portray the white conquerors as heroes and the Indians as villains. We anticipate that many celebrations of the 500th anniversary will reflect this racist attitude and distortion of history.

In the year 1992 we also will gather for the 46th triennial sessions of the General Conference Mennonite Church.

Those of us who were immigrant peoples now own land which was once the collective possession of the native peoples. We have been the beneficiaries, however indirectly, of their violent and unjust displacement. Injustice and racism continue to be directed against them. While some among us have spoken out courageously on these issues, we have too often been silent.

Therefore, be it resolved:

  1. That during this triennium following our resolution, "A Church of Many Peoples Confronts Racism," we seek ways to correct the distortions of history and racist attitudes regarding native people in North America.
  2. That we encourage our congregations to use the Multi-Cultural Worship Resource Notebook and the new educational material, Neighbors Near and Far: Native People in North America, and to invite speakers who can interpret native concerns.
  3. That we incorporate into the 1992 General Conference sessions (a) a public confession of our sin of silence about continued injustice, (b) an affirmation of the dignity and integrity of native peoplehood, and (c) a testimony that all of us stand together as God's people.
  4. That we request the Commission on Home Ministries, the Native Ministries Board of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada, and the Mennonite Indian Leaders Council to prepare action for 1992 and beyond, which will symbolize and make public our commitment to the above resolution.