What would it mean to reckon with our past complicity with harm?

As the world falls apart, I wonder where faith communities are? Where are White Christians, White Quakers?

As my friend Lucy Duncan writes, “we as White Quakers like to think of ourselves as ahead or better than dominant culture, but we have been complicit in a system and mindset that are ubiquitous.”

Recognizing the White dominant culture is fundamental for White people to understand. How we learn what we must change. White people must first change ourselves before we will be accepted in communities suffering injustice.

As Lucy writes below, “What would it mean to reckon with our past complicity with harm?” Lucy speaks about slavery and racism.

I tell the stories of early White Quaker relationships to slavery because slavery was never really abolished. If we can reckon with the full truth of our connection to slavery and its afterlives, perhaps we can begin the healing necessary to fulfill the promise of the Religious Society of Friends of Truth. 

We as White Quakers like to think of ourselves as ahead or better than dominant culture, but we have been complicit in a system and mindset that are ubiquitous. Claiming the full truth of our history and committing to repair the harms done are deeply spiritual acts of healing our own wounds of disconnection. I would argue it is the pathway upon which we can, perhaps for the first time, discover and invigorate our faith with its full promise.

What would it mean for us to take seriously and collectively as a Religious Society a call to finish the work of abolition, hand in hand and side by side with those affected  and their loved ones? What would it mean for us to stand fully with the calls to abolish the police and fully fund community needs instead? What would it mean to reckon with our past complicity with harm and fully dedicate ourselves to the creation of a liberating Quaker faith that commits to build the revolutionary and healing faith we long to see come to fruition? What would it look like to finally and fully abolish slavery?

A Quaker Call to Abolition and Creation by Lucy Duncan, Friends Journal, April 1, 2021

I ask these same questions regarding our past and present complicity with harms to Indigenous peoples. I speak from my own experiences with Indigenous friends. (One place I share some of these experiences are at the website I created about the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March https://firstnationfarmer.com/ )

Two interrelated developments are finally bringing attention to Indigenous peoples, forced assimilation, and those who ran those residential schools.

  • One is the search and finding of the remains of Indigenous children on the grounds of Indian Boarding Schools in Canada and the US.
  • The second is the release of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report about what happened in those schools

What would it mean to reckon with our past complicity with harm to Indigenous peoples?

White people need to imagine what it would take to dismantle the White dominant culture. We cannot begin to reckon with our complicity in harm until we have the humility and prayers to recognize the history of those harms, and how we continue to do harm now. We cannot make authentic connections with Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) until we unlearn our attitudes and actions of dominance.

How do we do that? We look for any kind of vertical hierarchy, and reject it. Vertical hierarchies are how dominance is enforced. Are the structures used throughout our society and government.

We should instead act in ways of horizontal, or no hierarchy. Dismantling vertical hierarchies is the path to reducing or eliminating dominance.

Eliminating vertical hierarchies is the core concept of Mutual Aid. My participation in a Mutual Aid community these past two years has been a real education. A deeply spiritual experience. Mutual Aid is how I’ve been learning to reject vertical hierarchies. Some of my experiences with Mutual Aid can be found here: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/mutual-aid/

Recognizing White dominant culture makes it possible for us to look at the past and recognize our complicity with what happened then. And helps us envision how to stop the ongoing harms of White dominance now.

By asking the question where are faith communities (above) I’m implying where should faith communities be? I believe white faith communities should be working on their structures, actions, and attitudes of dominance. Learning about and embracing Mutual Aid is a way to do that.

Queries related to Mutual Aid
Do we recognize that vertical hierarchies are about power, supremacy and privilege? What are Quaker hierarchies?
Do we work to prevent vertical hierarchies in our peace and justice work?
What are we doing to meet the survival needs of our wider community?
How are we preparing for disaster relief, both for our community, and for the influx of climate refugees?
Are we examples of a Beloved community? How can we invite our friends and neighbors to join our community?

A Hierarchy Resister

I’ve been working on this diagram to show the structures of injustice, and concepts to address them. This is a work in progress. Relevant to today’s discussion is White supremacy and the way forward via Mutual Aid.

Whiteness and Quakers

[References to Quakers here pertain to White Quakers. There is little diversity among Quakers in this country.]

There are several reasons I’m led to revisit this today.

  • Our Quaker meetings have dwindling numbers of attenders. Most of those remaining are elderly and white. Many meetings do not have new people joining.
  • I continue to hear stories from people of color, or those identifying as non-binary in gender or sexual orientation not being welcome in some Quaker meetings.
  • Those of us working outside our Quaker communities are often blessed to find beloved communities.
  • I wish others in our Quaker meetings would join these communities.
  • Despite the many wonderful aspects of these ‘external’ communities, I sometimes sense a lack of spiritual support for one another there.
  • There are many who don’t express their spirituality publicly, or in ways “organized” religions do.
  • Quaker presence will not be fully welcome in these communities until we come to terms with our own racism.

We know that those of us who are white must confront racism in ourselves and in the institutions we care about—our faith communities, our schools, our neighborhoods, our families, our Congress.

Racism and Whiteness, Diane Randall

People ask me if I believe in god… I tell them I pray to creator.
They tell me Jesus died for me… I tell them my ancestors did.
They say I will burn in hell for not following the Bible, but it has been used as weapon to colonize and murder my people…
for me it’s spirituality over religion. I don’t hate people for going to church, but I do hate what the churches have done to us…
before colonization we had our own ways and ceremonies, I choose the path of my ancestors.


For a long time, I’ve been in significant spiritual distress. I’ve been learning a great deal from my Native friends and working in Mutual Aid communities. And they tell me the way white people can best support them is by embracing and teaching others about LANDBACK.

I caused conflicts in my Quaker meeting because I wanted them to join me in the work of Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. Despite my efforts to explain this, they haven’t had the experiences that would make them understand all of this, yet.

At the same time I felt I was letting my Native friends down, because I wasn’t making some of the changes I wanted to make in my life that could be an example of how white people can join the work with Mutual Aid and LANDBACK.

As environmental chaos deepens, with the resulting collapse of the colonial capitalist economic system and the political systems propping up white supremacy fail, we will have no choice but to find alternatives. Ideally those would be Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. This is a powerful incentive to embrace these concepts now.

Mutual Aid and LANDBACK

In the same way I can’t understand the involvement of many Quakers in the slave trade, and having enslaved people, I can’t understand Quaker’s involvement in forced assimilation of native children.

What does this mean for Quakers today? No matter what we say about justice for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) folks, those words are empty as long as we continue to take advantage of colonial capitalism and white supremacy.

The news of 215 Kamloops Native children buried on the grounds of a residential school shocked non-native people, who did not know how many of these residential schools existed in the lands called the United States and Canada. Did not know tens of thousands of Native children were forcibly removed from their families and taken to these institutions where thousands were abused in many ways. Thousands killed or died. Though the stated reason for doing this was to assimilate Native children into white society for their benefit, the real intent was to quell Indigenous resistance to the theft of their land by white settler colonists.

My friend Paula Palmer wrote an excellent article for Friends Journal, Oct 1, 2016. “Quaker Boarding Schools: Facing Our History and Ourselves”.

The growing numbers of remains found at other schools has re-opened deep wounds in Native communities. Many have been triggered by these atrocities. One of my Native friends wrote that she was NOT OK. Another told me, “I’m trying not to be enraged in my mourning.”

A Native friend also told me, “The church is the church’s past, which is its future. It continues to see my people as obstacles in its endless conquest. To be blunt, there is too much damage that the church profits from and needs to protect to have any future there.” Vigorous attempts are made to hide it, but history does not lie. He also told me, regarding what I had been telling him about my efforts with Quakers, “I wish you the best. I imagine it’s a hard struggle.”

I cannot face my BIPOC friends if I don’t continue to seek the Spirit, and act on the leadings I am given. Writing is one thing I am led to do.

“Don’t make orphans stand here covered in the blood of our parents and explain to you how this all came to be without doing something about it. “

The Tragedy of 215. Without truth, there can be no healing, by Sarah Rose Harper, Lakota People’s Law Project, 6/2/2021

I am so grateful to my BIPOC friends for teaching me that Mutual Aid and LANDBACK are alternatives to colonial capitalism and white superiority. LANDBACK is how to restore Native lands and leadership.

As environmental chaos deepens, with the resulting collapse of the colonial capitalist economic system and the political systems propping up white supremacy, we will have no choice but to find alternatives. Ideally those would be Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. This is a powerful incentive to embrace these concepts now.

I wrote the following epistle that is modeled from ‘An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription’

An Epistle to Friends Regarding Community, Mutual Aid and LANDBACK

Dear Friends,

The measure of a community is how the needs of its people are met. No one should go hungry, or without shelter or healthcare. Yet in this country known as the United States millions struggle to survive. The capitalist economic system creates hunger, houselessness, illness that is preventable and despair. A system that requires money for goods and services denies basic needs to anyone who does not have money. Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately affected. Systemic racism. The capitalist system that supports the white materialistic lifestyle is built on stolen land and genocide of Indigenous peoples, and the labor of those who were enslaved in the past or are forced to live on poverty wages today.

Capitalism is revealed as an unjust, untenable system, when there is plenty of food in the grocery stores, but men, women and children are going hungry, living on the streets outside. White supremacy violently enforces the will of wealthy white people on the rest of us.

It has become clear to some of us who are called Friends that the colonial capitalist economic system and white supremacy are contrary to the Spirit and we must find a better way. We conscientiously object to and resist capitalism and white supremacy.

capitalism has violated the communities of marginalized folks. capitalism is about the value of people, property and the people who own property. those who have wealth and property control the decisions that are made. the government comes second to capitalism when it comes to power.

in the name of liberation, capitalism must be reversed and dismantled. meaning that capitalistic practices must be reprogrammed with mutual aid practices. 
Des Moines Black Liberation Movement

Mutual Aid

How do we resist? We rebuild our communities in ways not based upon money. Such communities thrive all over the world. Indigenous peoples have always lived this way. White people once did so in this country. Mutual Aid is a framework that can help us do this today.

The concept of Mutual Aid is simple to explain but can result in transformative change. Mutual Aid involves everyone coming together to find a solution for problems we all face. This is a radical departure from “us” helping “them”. Instead, we all work together to find and implement solutions.  To work together means we must be physically present with each other. Mutual Aid cannot be done by committee or donations. We build Beloved communities as we get to know each other. Build solidarity. An important part of Mutual Aid is creating these networks of people who know and trust each other. When new challenges arise, these networks are in place, ready to meet them.

Another important part of Mutual Aid is the transformation of those involved. This means both those who are providing help, and those receiving it.

With Mutual Aid, people learn to live in a community where there is no vertical hierarchy. A community where everyone has a voice. A model that results in enthusiastic participation. A model that makes the vertical hierarchy required for white supremacy impossible.

Commonly there are several Mutual Aid projects in a community. The initial projects usually relate to survival needs. One might be a food giveaway. Another helping those who need shelter. Many Mutual Aid groups often have a bail fund, to support those arrested for agitating for change. And accompany those arrested when they go to court.


The other component necessary to move away from colonial capitalism and white supremacy is LANDBACK.

But the idea of “landback” — returning land to the stewardship of Indigenous peoples — has existed in different forms since colonial governments seized it in the first place. “Any time an Indigenous person or nation has pushed back against the oppressive state, they are exercising some form of landback,” says Nickita Longman, a community organizer from George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The movement goes beyond the transfer of deeds to include respecting Indigenous rights, preserving languages and traditions, and ensuring food sovereignty, housing, and clean air and water. Above all, it is a rallying cry for dismantling white supremacy and the harms of capitalism.

Returning the Land. Four Indigenous leaders share insights about the growing landback movement and what it means for the planet, by Claire Elise Thompson, Grist, February 25, 2020

What will Friends do?

It matters little what people say they believe when their actions are inconsistent with their words.  Thus, we Friends may say there should not be hunger and poverty, but as long as Friends continue to collaborate in a system that leaves many without basic necessities and violently enforces white supremacy, our example will fail to speak to mankind.

Let our lives speak for our convictions.  Let our lives show that we oppose the capitalist system and white supremacy, and the damages that result.  We can engage in efforts, such as Mutual Aid and LANDBACK, to build Beloved community. To reach out to our neighbors to join us.

We must begin by changing our own lives if we hope to make a real testimony for peace and justice.

We remain, in love of the Spirit, your Friends and sisters and brothers,

Note: Modeled from ‘An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription’

FCNL Native American updates

Following are Native American updates from the Friends Committee on Legislation (FCNL).

Seeking Truth, Healing, and Right Relationship: Quakers and the Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools
MAY 25, 2022, 5:30 – 6:30 PM Central, ONLINE

FCNL and Friends advocate in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. Yet, historically, Quakers played a role in colonization and the cultural genocide of Native people through the operation of more than 30 Indian boarding schools. With legislation now before Congress to investigate the legacy of Indian boarding schools, how are Friends communities engaging to address Quaker complicity in these atrocities?

Join us on Weds. May 25 at 6:30 p.m. EDT to learn how FCNL and F/friends are reckoning with this history and advocating in solidarity with Native communities.

In conversation with Paula Palmer and Jerilyn DeCoteau, FCNL’s Congressional Advocate for Native American Advocacy Portia Kay^nthos Skenandore-Wheelock will discuss FCNL’s work to build support for the bipartisan Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444). Paula and Jerilyn will share from their expertise and experience co-directing Towards Right Relationship with Native Peoples with Friends Peace Teams. Director of Quaker Leadership Alicia McBride will moderate the conversation.

Reauthorize FVPSA with Critical Support for Tribal Domestic Violence Programs

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (FVPSA) is the primary federal grant program for domestic violence shelter and supportive services. This is especially significant for tribal communities, which deal with domestic and sexual violence at unparalleled rates. 

FVPSA will help all tribes provide culturally appropriate and life-saving prevention and treatment resources for their citizens by funding domestic violence programs, shelters, hotlines, resource centers in Alaska and Hawaii, and tribal coalitions. In short, FVPSA is a key piece of legislation to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

The House passed their bill (H.R. 2119) in October 2021, but the Senate has yet to vote on their version (S. 1275).

Remind your senators of their responsibility to tribal nations and urge them to pass the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act.

Historic Funding for Tribal Nations in FY 2023 Budget Proposal

For the first time in history, the president’s budget process included direct consultations with tribal nations. As a result, President Joe Biden’s FY 2023 budget proposal includes increased funding for tribal nations and programs. Notably, it would also significantly invest in the stabilization of the entire tribal healthcare system.

By recategorizing Indian Health Service (IHS) funding as mandatory rather than discretionary spending, IHS funding would automatically keep pace with increasing healthcare costs and population growth. This change would gradually close longstanding shortfalls, address backlogs and inequities, and modernize record systems. The budget proposal recommends $9.1 billion in mandatory funding for tribal healthcare.

“This proposal is a historic step forward towards securing adequate, stable, and predictable funding to improve the overall health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said IHS Acting Director Elizabeth Fowler. “It also ensures we never repeat the disproportionate impacts experienced during the pandemic…and acknowledges the need to implement long-term solutions to address IHS funding challenges, which contribute to the stark health disparities faced by American Indian and Alaska Native people.”

Other wins in the budget proposal include increased funding for tribal programs in general, Violence Against Women Act programs, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative.

Interior Department Reverses Nearly 50 Year Obstacle to Tribal Water Rights

On April 7, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland reversed the Morton Moratorium, a 1975 memorandum directing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to disapprove tribal regulation of water use on reservations. With this change, tribes requiring secretarial approval of tribal water codes will be able to better regulate and protect waters on tribal lands.

“If we are to truly support tribal self-determination, we cannot be afraid to review and correct actions of the past that were designed to create obstacles for tribal nations,” said Haaland. The Interior Department will hold tribal consultations for guidance on an improved review process for tribal water codes.

What we’re reading

Grateful and humbled

I am grateful for many things this morning. For the waters falling from the sky. For my Mutual Aid friends who demonstrate what a Beloved community is. For the Buffalo Rebellion, growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. Thankful for my Quaker communities. I give thanks to the Spirit.

I am grateful for my Indigenous friends. Humbled by the grace they have shown me and other white people as we seek ways to heal from the horrendous history of white supremacy and forced assimilation, abuse, and death of thousands of Native children. As we search for ways to deal with the present, ongoing injustices. The intergenerational trauma. Ripping open deep wounds as the remains of children are located. As the title of this new documentary says, “They Found Us”.

Growing up I heard references to Quakers who worked in the residential schools. I was told they were helping the Native children adjust to living in white society. I didn’t have the awareness to question why that was not a good thing.

I’ve had a life-long concern about environmental devastation. I grew up on farms. When I moved to Indianapolis in 1970, I was horrified by the dense, noxious fumes from every tailpipe, making it difficult to even see. This was before catalytic converters hid the damage being done. I was led to refuse to own a car.

It was obvious Indigenous peoples lived in sustainable ways.

To pull this all together, here is the link to a recent blog post, Midwest Quakers and Native Peoples, which describes how I was blessed to become friends with Indigenous folks in the Midwest and the history of some of the work we’ve done together. It also talks about the Indian Residential Schools and includes a letter from Curt Young, member of George Gordon First Nation, describing the documentary he created, “They Found Us”. Sikowis is also a member of George Gordan First Nation.

“I thought it would be important to document these searches and capture some of the stories told by members that were forced to go to these institutions. It’s a first hand look into some of the experiences survived in residential school.”

Curt Sipihko Paskwawimostos, creator of “They Found Us”.

Sikowis (Christine) Nobiss is one of my close Indigenous friends. We’ve discussed the residential schools, briefly, a few times. I was glad she felt she could ask me if Quakers would help pay for expenses to travel with the film for viewing in a number of communities. She later told me it was difficult for her to ask for funds.

I am clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Our committee has a budget of $1,100 to support justice work. In the past we sent $50 or $100 to a number of such organizations. Someone suggested instead sending a larger amount for one or two projects. We decided to do that but didn’t have a project in mind when we were meeting last summer.

I believed the Spirit would show us the way. The request for “They Found Us” seemed to be what we were waiting for. Our committee met to discuss and unanimously approve this. I’m grateful and humbled for that, as well.

Additional funds would be helpful. Please contact me if you are interested. jakislin@outlook.com

Quaker Slavery and Manumissions

I pray and think about the past a lot. I cannot feel it, but I see some of the impacts of trauma from the past on my friends’ lives today. The intergenerational trauma. A number of White Quakers in the past were involved in the institution of slavery, the theft of land from Indigenous peoples, and/or the forced assimilation of Native children.

This morning I came across the term “intergenerational transformative justice”. “As we deal with the uncomfortable truths of our White Quaker ancestors, we release them from the amber in which our myths have captured them. “

The myths we tell ourselves and the lies those myths uphold are embedded in our contemporary faith practice. When we believe and perpetuate falsehoods about ourselves, it not only disconnects us from the truth, it also limits our ability to act with full integrity today. Telling the truth about ourselves and our White Quaker ancestors grounds us in reality, in a sense of the complexity of our identity. It allows us to create a different future, not built from delusion and half of the story but from an honest and grounded reckoning with who we are and who we have been. My friend Mila Hamilton calls this “intergenerational transformative justice.” As we deal with the uncomfortable truths of our White Quaker ancestors, we release them from the amber in which our myths have captured them. As we allow them to become the full, flawed humans they were, we also free ourselves to reckon with our present, which arises from their past, and to tell the full truth of who we are.

A Quaker Call to Abolition and Creation by Lucy Duncan, Friends Journal, April 1, 2021

Friends Journal senior editor Martin Kelley speaks to my friend, Quaker preservationist Avis Wanda McClinton about her work as a community liaison to Haverford College’s “Manumitted: The People Enslaved by Quakers.”

Inside Haverford’s Manumission Archives by Martin Kelley, Friends Journal, February 1, 2022

A manumission is a legal document that promises to free someone who is enslaved. In this context, we’re talking about American chattel slavery. Manumission has existed in many different forms of slavery, generally referring to the freeing of an enslaved person. But in this context, it’s specifically in the Americas with stolen African people. 

Manumissions are often standard sizes of paper, maybe half sheets at times. It might be a normal-sized piece of paper with two manumissions, one on the top and another on the bottom. 

They are promising to free someone, either immediately or in the future. There aren’t a lot of details on whether that promise was ever fully completed or not. These records were turned over to the yearly meetings and the quarterly meetings, which is why we have them. And so at least in that regard, there was some sort of process that Quaker members would go through, in order to demonstrate to their meeting that they were in agreement with the rules. 

Inside Haverford’s Manumission Archives by Martin Kelley, Friends Journal, February 1, 2022


  • Block, Kristen. Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit. University of Georgia Press, 2012.
  • Frost, J. William. The Quaker Origins of Antislavery. Norwood Editions, 1980.
  • Gerbner, Katharine. Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.
  • Soderlund, Jean R. Quakers & Slavery: a Divided Spirit. Princeton University Press, 1985.

Spirituality over religion

People ask me if I believe in god… I tell them I pray to creator.
They tell me Jesus died for me… I tell them my ancestors did.
They say I will burn in hell for not following the Bible, but it has been used as weapon to colonize and murder my people…
for me it’s spirituality over religion. I don’t hate people for going to church, but I do hate what the churches have done to us…
before colonization we had our own ways and ceremonies, I choose the path of my ancestors.


I find myself in a spiritual crisis regarding Christianity. I realize being a Christian and professing to be a Christian are often not the same.

The Christianity I cannot be part of is the weaponized version of a religion. One that created and enforced the doctrines of discovery which gave permission to steal indigenous lands and instructed killing the people living on them. That codified white supremacy and empire. That drove global colonization.

One that raised great wealth from stolen lands and labor. And then built ostentatious churches in the midst of profound poverty.

One that tore native children from their families and took them far away, to places of forced assimilation where every kind of abuse was visited upon them. Where thousands died or were killed. And their families were often not even told of their deaths. Where other children were sometimes forced to dig the graves. The trauma passed from generation to generation. An open wound in Indigenous communities to this day that I have witnessed in my native friends. A wound that has been ripped open with the verification of the remains of thousands of native children. With many more places that haven’t been scanned yet.

Part of the reason for my crisis is reading “American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World” by David Stannard. Recent scholarship has revealed sophisticated Indigenous communities in the Americas prior to the arrival of white men. And much larger numbers of Indigenous people, millions more than previously thought. Meaning millions more deaths occurred.

American holocaust.

The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world.

Stannard, David E. American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World. Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

More often than we realize, in ways we don’t recognize, white Quakers continue to benefit from the American Holocaust. Continue white domination.

We made a small step in learning about land acknowledgements. But those are empty statements if we don’t take the next steps. We need actions, not more words.

The reason I write and talk so much about my experiences with Mutual Aid is because that gets to the root causes of white supremacy. Mutual Aid exemplifies what Christianity is supposed to be. Mutual Aid is a means to begin decolonization.

As painful as it is, I know out of my confusion and distress, I will be led to a better place.

Real radicalism implores us to tell the whole ugly truth, even when it is inconvenient.

Brittney Cooper, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower (2018)

Congress reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act

Tribal nations are celebrating the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act.

Congress passed the omnibus spending package for the 2022 fiscal year late Thursday, which included major tribal provisions. It passed in the Senate with a 68-31 vote. The bill will now head to the president’s desk to be signed.

This means that tribal nations “will continue to increase safety and justice for victims who had previously seen little of either,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians in a statement.

VAWA reauthorization headed to President’s desk. Tribal provisions passed in appropriations bill for 2022 fiscal year, INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, March 11, 2022

The US Congress just passed the omnibus spending package that included major tribal provisions. Many people and organizations have been lobbying for these provisions for years. Below you will find some history of our lobbying efforts in Iowa since 2018. Despite frustrations about the process and time required, sometimes our goals are achieved. I am especially thankful for all I have learned about lobbying and the support from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).

Coalition to Work with Senator Grassley

November 20, 2018

Today a coalition of Native and non-Native people, representing several organizations, met with Carol Olson, Senator Chuck Grassley’s State Director at the Federal Building in Des Moines, Iowa. Two of Senator Grassley’s staff from Washington, DC, joined us via a conference call. The meeting was a chance for us to get to know each other and find ways we can work with Senator Grassley and others to pass legislation to support Native American communities. Those who attended are shown in the photo below.

This coalition came together from two circumstances. One relates to the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March this September, where a group of about forty Native and non-Native people walked ninety-four miles, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This March was organized by Bold Iowa, Indigenous Iowa and Seeding Sovereignty. The goal was the development of a community of Native and non-Native people who would get to know each other so we could work together on areas of common interest. All those in the photo were on the March except Shazi and Fox Knight, who are members of Bear Creek Friends Meeting, as am I.

The other circumstance is the desire of the Friends Committee on National Legislative (FCNL) to build teams of people to develop ongoing relationships with the staff of their U.S. Senators and Representatives in their in-district offices. FCNL is a 75-year-old Quaker organization that has worked to support legislation for peace and justice issues. FCNL is non-partisan and has developed an extensive national network of Friends and others who support this work for peace and justice. Since the 1950’s Native American Affairs have been one of the principal areas of focus of the organization.

During this meeting, I talked about the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the SURVIVE Act. Christine Nobiss (Sikowis) spoke about the racism and violence against Native women and Savanna’s Act. Everyone else then contributed to the discussions.

Jeff Kisling, Fox and Shazi Knight, Christine Nobiss, Shari Hrdina and Sid Barfoot

October 15, 2018

Dear Mr. Kisling:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your support for a tribal set-aside within the Crime Victims Fund. As your senator, it is important that I hear from you.

I was an original cosponsor of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which established the Crime Victims Fund. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ve also called on congressional appropriations leaders to provide an appropriate funding stream for Tribes under VOCA.  As stated in a letter I initiated to the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this year, “individuals on Tribal lands experience high rates of domestic and sexual violence, and resources from the Crime Victims Fund are critical in addressing” these victims’ needs.  This letter was cosigned by several dozen of my Senate colleagues.

I hope you find this information helpful. Your involvement in this issue is important, and I encourage you to keep in touch.


Chuck Grassley
United States Senate

“For too long, tribal communities have been under-resourced and under-supported in their pursuit of justice,” said FCNL General Secretary Bridget Moix. “By reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act as part of the omnibus spending package, lawmakers are helping chart a more just and secure future for Native communities across the country.”

“Expanding tribal criminal jurisdiction strengthens the capacity of tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to protect their citizens,” said Portia K. Skenandore-Wheelock, FCNL’s Native American advocacy program congressional advocate. “The ability of tribal nations to hold all perpetrators accountable is directly linked to protecting tribal communities from further violence and truly getting a handle on this crisis.”

As a Quaker organization, FCNL continues a historic commitment to working in solidarity with Native American communities in support of the full realization of their rights.

Quaker Lobby Commends Congress for Reauthorizing Violence Against Women Act by Alex Frandsen, Friends Committee on National Legislative, March 11, 2022

The historic tribal provisions in VAWA:

  • Reaffirm Tribal Nations’ jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators of child violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, crimes against tribal law enforcement and correctional officers, and obstruction of justice;
  • Establish an Alaska pilot project, which will allow a limited number of Alaska Native Villages to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators for the first time since the 1998 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie;
  • Clarify that all Tribal Nations in Maine can exercise tribal jurisdiction under VAWA;
  • Ensure that non-Indian defendants must exhaust all Tribal court remedies;
  • Reauthorize funding for and amending the Tribal Access Program, to ensure that all Tribal Nations can access national crime information systems for criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes;
  • Make the 2010 Bureau of Prisons Tribal Prisoner Program permanent and allow Tribal Nations to place offenders in federal facilities that are sentenced to one year or more; and
  • Significantly increase resources for Tribal Nations to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction and establish a reimbursement program to cover tribal costs.

National Congress of American Indians

NCAI Tribal Leader Town Hall on the Violence Against Women Act
Date: March 16, 2022
Time: 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. EDT
NCAI will host a virtual Town Hall on March 16, 2022 on the VAWA reauthorization to discuss this historic moment for Indian Country, review the tribal provisions in the law, and highlight the next steps for Tribal Nations. More information to come.

What else is in the bill?

$6.707 billion for Native health programs at the Department of Health and Human Services

  • $6.63 billion for Indian Health Service programs, including $2.3 billion for IHS clinical services
  • $55 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Tribal Opioid Response grant program
  • $22 million for Health Resource and Services Administration grants to the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems

$3.65 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education at the Department of the Interior

  • $7 million for DOI’s Indian Boarding School Initiative to conduct a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies

$1 billion for Native American housing programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • $922 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant program
  • $72.09 million for the Indian Community Development Block Grant program
  • $22.3 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program

More than $86 million to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis and public safety needs of Native communities

  • $50 million for the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs assistance to tribes
  • $25 million for DOI’s initiative to address MMIW cases
  • $5.5 million for DOJ’s Office of Violence Against Women Tribal VAWA implementation grant program
  • $3 million for a DOJ initiative to support cross-designation of tribal prosecutors as Tribal Special Assistant United States Attorneys
  • $1 million for DOJ – OVW to conduct analysis & research on violence against Indian women
  • $1 million to support establishment of a Native Hawaiian Resource Center on Domestic Violence
  • $500,000 for a national Training and Technical Assistance clearinghouse on issues relating to sexual assault of American Indian and Alaska Native women
  • Five percent set-aside for tribes to receive direct funding from the Crime Victims Fund

More than $47.5 million for programs to support Native American languages and cultures

  • $16 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
  • $14 million for HHS’s Administration for Native Americans Native language grant programs
  • $9.37 million for the Department of Education’s K-12 Native American language immersion grants
  • $2.3 million for Native American and Hawaiian museum services
  • $1.5 million for Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native culture and arts development
  • $1.5 million for DOI Native American language instruction and immersion programs for federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations
  • $1.5 million for Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act implementation and enforcement at BIA
  • $1 million for the National Bison Range
  • $600,000 for a cultural resource study to protect Chaco Canyon
  • $500,000+ for ED to fund establishment of a Native American Language Resource Center

More than $65.42 million in tribal climate and environmental resiliency funding to help tribal communities address and prepare for the effects of climate change

  • $5 million for DOI’s tribal climate adaptation grants
  • $8 million for DOI’s tribal relocation grants
  • $10.65 million for reclamation of abandoned mines on tribal lands
  • $4.8 million for clean energy development through BIA Minerals and Mining
  • $12 million for mitigation of environmental impacts of Department of Defense activities on Indian lands
  • $6 million for the tribes wildlife conservation grant program at DOI’s Fish and Wildlife Service

VAWA reauthorization headed to president’s desk. Tribal provisions passed in appropriations bill for 2022 fiscal year, INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, March 11, 2022

Spirituality for a just transition

Ever since I wrote yesterday’s post, I knew something wasn’t right. Trying to think things through in public can be disconcerting. Hopefully, there is some value in showing the process. Making mistakes is how we learn and grow.

I’ve been praying and thinking about all the things I’m learning in my Mutual Aid community for a long time. I’ve been wondering what sustains my friends in this work. Sometimes difficult work. My Mutual Aid community is definitely an example of Beloved community. We feel and share the love. Never have I seen anger. This is part of what sustains us.

And the joy of being able to provide food to our community is a large part, too. I wrote that sentence carefully, to demonstrate an important part of Mutual Aid. It is NOT us helping them. We are all in this together. A friend recently told me at one time she needed food. Now she is so happy to help distribute food.

Des Moines Mutual Aid

Returning to yesterday’s post, Justice and Disaster Preparedness, I tried to simplify the main concepts I think are important for making a transition to the communities we want, need to create. I was trying to figure out where faith fit. I put it under Socialism because I’ve been learning about religious socialism. That and other problems made me decide to scrap that diagram. Following is today’s version.

Socialism, Mutual Aid, Abolition, and LANDBACK each have a role in building Beloved communities. Especially regarding disaster preparedness.

Spirituality is what will help us make the just transition to communities needed to prepare for the present and coming disasters.

Spirituality can be expressed in many ways. But there is only one Creator or God.

I love the EARTH IS MY CHURCH sign my friends Alton and Foxy Onefeather carried during our First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March.

Hearing from Quakers in Kyiv, Ukraine

I recently wrote about support for Quakers in Kyiv, Ukraine, including the peace posters sent from students at Monteverde Friends School in Cosa Rica.

This morning at our meeting of Bear Creek Friends, we approved sending the following message to Quakers in Kyiv and were very relieved to receive the following response from them.

You’re our friends, the best friends on the planet,
those who send kind and deep words.
We are happy to have you with us and believe that God will make a miracle and stop the war.


Quakers Of Kyiv, Ukraine / Квейкери Києва

Welcome to the page of Ukrainian supporters of Quakerism.
Religious Society of Friends is a Protestant Christian church, known for its humanistic orientation, human rights and environmental guidelines, etc.
The Quaker prayer meeting is first and foremost a time of peace. This is an hour free from unnecessary words.
Quakers in the world have different currents. We, the Quakers of Kyiv, belong to the liberal trend without the well-known religious speechifying and lexicon.
Seekers of friendship, peace, truth, and equality are cordially invited to the meeting, following the Spirit’s guidance in affairs, ready for the hour of silent worship.
Details on messenger:
by e-mail: quakers@ukr.net

Support for Ukraine

Here is some information related to support for Ukraine.

  • There is news from Quakers of Kyiv, Ukraine, including how to connect for meeting for worship.
  • Information from Mennonite Central Committee who have been in Ukraine since the 1920’s
  • Posters of support 7/8 grade students at Monteverde Friends School in Costa Rica. sent to Ukraine Quakers.
  • There will be a ZOOM meeting for worship sharing related to Ukraine at 7:00 pm Central on Thursday, March 3. Everyone is welcome. Email me for the link. jakislin@outlook.com

Quakers Of Kyiv, Ukraine / Квейкери Києва

Welcome to the page of Ukrainian supporters of Quakerism.
Religious Society of Friends is a Protestant Christian church, known for its humanistic orientation, human rights and environmental guidelines, etc.
The Quaker prayer meeting is first and foremost a time of peace. This is an hour free from unnecessary words.
Quakers in the world have different currents. We, the Quakers of Kyiv, belong to the liberal trend without the well-known religious speechifying and lexicon.
Seekers of friendship, peace, truth, and equality are cordially invited to the meeting, following the Spirit’s guidance in affairs, ready for the hour of silent worship.
Details on messenger:
by e-mail: quakers@ukr.net

February 25, 2022

Despite everything, we prepare for silent prayer worship on Sunday at 10:30 Kyiv Time EET Eastern European Time UTC/GMT +2 hours
We did it and we’ll do it again!

Passcode: 002873


If you are unable to enter this conference due to the limited number of participants, there will be an opportunity behind this link to enter:
Passcode: d02uNj

February 24, 2022

Dear Friends!

We don’t know anything about how our traditional meeting of worship will go. It is not clear whether the Internet and electricity will be available, whether we will be in the capital or evacuated.

Today all Kyiv people were warned that the city will be bombed. And that all citizens should be ready to hear the sound of sirens go to the bomb shelter.

We don’t lose our temper. God and your prayers help us.

This is the kind of lovely support we get from Costa Rica. (see the following from Monteverde Friends School.)

When I contacted Monteverde Friends School for permission to share the signs from the students, Ellen told me, “The post with the 7/8 class posters for the people of Ukraine has already gone to over 11,000 people, with 112 shares on the post. “

The post with the 7/8 class posters for the people of Ukraine has already gone to over 11,000 people, with 112 shares on the post.

Ellen, Monteverde Friends School

Monteverde Friends School / Escuela de los Amigos de Monteverde

February 24, 2022

Update: Quakers in Kyiv have shared these posters on their page!

Our 7/8 grade social science class discussed the war in Ukraine today and made these posters for the Ukraine people. https://www.facebook.com/QuakersKyivUkraine/


Mennonite Central Committee

MCC has worked in Ukraine since our beginnings in 1920, opening soup kitchens to provide relief to thousands of starving families. Our current projects include relief, peace, health and education.

Since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, MCC has worked with partners to assist internally displaced people (IDPs) and to build peace. The UNHCR reports there are some 1.8 million IDPs and conflict-affected people in Ukraine.

“We pray that hard hearts of conquest will be softened. We pray that the very best practices of peace will prevail among leaders. We pray gratefully that your spirit of healing and hope is present.” Rick Cober Bauman and Ann Graber Hershberger, executive directors of MCC, share a prayer for peace in Ukraine. We invited you to pray, give and advocate for peace for our global neighbours in Ukraine.

For more information, or to make a gift, please visit,