Elaine Enns is co-director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries in Oak View, Calif. With Ched Myers, she is author of Heaing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization.

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How Do We Heal Family Histories Entangled With Colonization?

by Elaine Enns 12-01-2020
Christians of European descent must face the hard stories of their past.
A photo taken in 1923 of the Mennonite church choir in Osterwick, Ukraine. There are 14 people in the photo, both men and women.

Photo courtesy of Elaine Enns

A FEW YEARS AGO, Ched Myers and I discovered this graffiti in my old suburban neighborhood in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, scrawled across a fence just a block from where I grew up:

“... as long as the sun shines,
as long as the waters flow downhill,
and as long as the grass grows green ...”

It is a venerable phrase from the Two Row Wampum of 1613, an agreement between the Five Nations of the Iroquois and representatives of the Dutch government in what is now upstate New York, which affirmed principles of Indigenous self-determination, rights, and jurisdiction. The phrase has been reiterated in most subsequent treaties between European settlers and Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Sixty miles due north of my old neighborhood is Opwashemoe Chakatinaw (named Stoney Knoll by settlers), nestled between the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers. A spiritual center for the Young Chippewayans, it was part of Reserve 107, assigned to this Cree tribe in 1876 under Treaty 6.