I’m off to Maryland again at the end of the month (25th Nov – 2nd Dec). Part of this time will be taken up with a further gathering of folk I met with for the Consultation mentioned in my last blog. Alistair Petrie (see www.partnershipministries.org for more info) and his wife Marie will be joining us – he has been heavily involved with the Transformations Ireland ministry and has also over the years been very supportive of what I have been doing regarding the Ulster Covenant and now Native American reconciliation issues and in particular the Doctrine of Discovery (again, see past blogs).
It has been sometime since I last blogged – in part this as been due to the pace of the journey Dorothy and I are on: especially, ongoing family commitments to aging parents and seeking to not move ahead of God. The later, I must admit has not always been easy after 30 years of ministry (mostly here in Ireland) in which we took the initiative. By that I mean we were for 13 years in a medical work, the first 7 years of them were pioneering in nature i.e., if we didn’t travel and make it happen, it didn’t grow! For the other 23 years being part of team ministries, which sustained full programs, held conferences & prayer days, had property upkeeps, periods of travel, etc., built in – kept us busy!
Now I find myself for the last 4 plus years in a position of carrying something in my spirit regarding Native American reconciliation, just as profoundly as the carrying of the Ulster Covenant/Irish reconciliation issues. The big difference is that God has made it very clear that we are not to take the initiative: this is not about us; it has to be in the opposite spirit of our forefathers who went to America uninvited; He will make the connections and invitations. If I am honest this has not always been an easy one to embrace! But, the reality is – I cannot make it happen! The sheer size of: the issues, the USA and the Atlantic in between, don’t help!! Equally it has been wonderful to see how faithful God has been: financially, in travel, in the relationships He has led us into and also in watching over our families.
Meanwhile I continue to read, research, write and gain a greater understanding of the issues connected to our reconciliation journey: the root Doctrine of Discovery, the negative things our ancestors brought from England, Scotland, Ireland during the 16th – 18th centuries to the Indian Tribes; the fruit those negative seeds produced following the birth of the United States of America; seeking to embrace God’s heart. Interestingly, the laying down of ministry here in Ireland has meant the laying down of an identity, a voice and influence. Over the past number of weeks God has been speaking into this through several people who have suggested that now I can identify in some small way with how the Native people must feel on their land. Definitely something to ponder!
Since my last trip to Maryland my research has taken me to study the Quakers who established their colony in the Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland area (many of them coming from Ireland) and also the Lenape (Delaware) and Conestoga Tribes on whose land the colony was established. This research was initiated in part by conversations with Mike Berry (see previous blog) and one of the speakers at our gathering, John Norwood from New Jersey. He is the pastor of Ujima Christian Church and also serves as a tribal councilman with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation and as chairperson of the tribal government affairs and relations committee. John began our consultation by welcoming us unto his tribal lands. Along with others I had the privilege of doing protocol with him.
Below is one of many issues I came across that is worthy of consideration:
The Lenape and the Walking Purchase, (Aug. 25, 1737).
The Lenape (Delaware) Indians, had been the tribe most friendly to William Penn when he founded the colony in the previous century. He both honored and respected them and had a policy of never taking their lands from them. At all times he sought to purchase them from them – this was in a very opposite spirit to the tenets of the Doctrine of Discovery that he could have operated from. After William Penn’s death his sons walked in a very different spirit to him, which was reflected in how they ran the colony. In one significant issue known as ‘The Walking Purchase’ the Colonial authorities claimed to have found a lost treaty, of 1686, ceding a tract of Delaware tribal land between the fork of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers that extended as far as a man could walk in 1 1/2 days – about 40 miles.
Under guidance from William Penn’s son Thomas Penn (1702-75) – then proprietor of Pennsylvania – the Provincial Secretary, James Logan, was to hire the three fastest walkers in the colony and offered a large prize to the one who could cover the most land. The winner, on a carefully cleared path, crossed more than twice the land the Lenape had anticipated, causing the tribe to loose about 1,200 square miles (3,100 square km) of their land. This was, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, nothing less than “a land swindle” perpetrated by the Pennsylvania authorities on the Lenape people. Another source said that they “falsely represented an old, incomplete, unsigned draft of a deed as a legal contract.”
The Lenape leaders appealed for assistance to the Iroquois confederacy, who claimed authority over them. The Iroquois leaders decided that it was not in their best interest politically to intervene on behalf of them. Besides, James Logan had already made a deal with the Iroquois for them to support the colonial side. As a result, the Lenape had to vacate the Walking Purchase lands.
It should not be entirely surprising therefore to find that during the French and Indian War (1756-63) the Lenape joined the French in the Ohio country and returned to ravage Pennsylvania.
Over the ensuing years many Lenape were driven westward and given place after place to settle, with the government repeatedly promising that each stop would be their permanent home. They were repeatedly forced to move until their trek westward which lasted 130 years, finally ending in what was then called “Indian Territory,” now Oklahoma. Some were to eventually return to join with others who managed to avoid the exile and remain on their homelands (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, northern Delaware and southern New York).
In the Lenape Nation’s official website I read. “Our elders are still afraid of being caught, and the thought of having their possessions taken away still runs deep. It is just in the past few years that the younger generations have been able to talk with them and have them understand that it is good to be Lenape.” I cannot help but think: What must it have been like to be swindled and pushed off your land like that?
What I have shared above is not really that long ago; the effects of what happened back then are still being played out today. In spiritual terms, what took place in the heavenly realms as a result of these events? What footholds into society was Satan given – to both White and Native? What does God require to happen to bring healing, not only to the Lenape but to every other Native American Nation in the USA? In part, this coming Consultation, in looking at the very root of the problem – the Doctrine of Discovery – is seeking to find an answer.