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May 1st is Native American Ministries Sunday (Religion & Race)

Since 1989, United Methodist congregations have observed the third Sunday after Easter as Native American Ministries Sunday. The purpose is to elevate and support the contributions and voices of Native/Indigenous people in our church.

A special financial offering on this day goes to support specific ministries in annual conferences. More information and resources for Native American Ministries Sunday are available from United Methodist Communication.

Meanwhile, here are four suggestions for congregations, individuals, and families to honor and undergird Native/Indigenous people:

  1. Learn about Native people and presence your community.  What tribal groups were original to your town? Which groups lives in your area now? What concerns and contributions are Native leaders focused on? Ask to visit a reservation and listen to the people there.
  2. Delve into authentic history and stories of Native people. Many stories by non-Natives are romanticized and fictionalized and are based on poor stereotype of indigenous people (think: stories about Pocahontas in animated movies and U.S. pop culture). Seek out books and other resources reflecting Native perspectives.
  3. Pray for and support Native/Indigenous ministries, community groups, and businesses. In addition to giving on May 1, consider making a monthly or quarterly donation to Native American ministries and scholarships in your area. Or you can give to the denomination-wide Native American Comprehensive Plan here.
  4. Challenge appropriation and stereotypes. Fight cultural and institutional bias in language, word, and deed. Don’t wear traditional Native jewelry and clothing before learning whether they are intended for and appropriate for non-Native wearers. Check your use of pejorative sayings such as, “Indian giver.”

Books for children about Native Americans

  • We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorrell (Charlesbridge, 2021)
  • We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (2020, Roaring Book Press)
  • Native History for Kids: With 21 Activities by Karen Bush Gibson (Chicago Review Press, 2010)
  • The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose (Grossett & Dunlap, 1993)

The General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) has developed an infographic to help us learn more. The downloadable infographic is also available in PDF via R-Squared.

Find more practical resources via the button below…