"My heart is heavy and yet I am laughing!"
I have been invited to learn about the Native American History through a process called "The Blanket Exercise". This interactive event is looking at American history and the European American relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of North America. Georges Erasmus, a prominent Aboriginal said that unless people understand their shared history, there can be no community.
When I (Monika) first came to the United States I had many people ask me how a wonderful country like Germany could allow someone like Hitler to come into power and allow such violence.
As I am looking at this journey I have to ask the same question and I realize how easy it is to allow injustices to happen, how easy it is to have good intentions and yet go so wrong. How it is possible to wanting to do good and yet hurt so many people in the process.
This week I am in New Mexico and Arizona listening to Indigenous Navajos share their stories of betrayal, hurt and pain. I heard from people my age who were taken from their families and put in boarding schools and not allowed to speak their native language.
I heard from people who were punished for saying their prayers in their mother tongue. I heard the sorrow in their voices, the hardship and pain it cost and the long journey of finding peace. We facilitated the Blanket exercise last night in a church in Gallup.
50+ people came to learn, among them European American and Native American community members, young and old. We spoke about the history of taking away the land of the original people, we heard about the diseases that killed many and the long marches, the stripping of their rights and the impact it had on their communities.
This emotional journey ended with a sharing time where each person could speak. What an experience!
As we continue the journey it is not just about the learning of our history to avoid the same mistakes in the future but also about the reconciliation that needs to happen. Only when we know each other’s stories can we build deep trusting relationships.