Decolonizing Quakers:

Working toward Right Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

We are a group of North American Quakers seeking to learn and share the truth of the history that Quakers and Indigenous Peoples have lived through on this continent. We want to acknowledge the wounds resulting from this history for all peoples impacted, and to engage in actions that move toward justice and recognize the dignity of all. Read more.

The Stories We Weren’t Told

Many Quakers have learned that our Quaker forebears and ancestors had good relationships with the Indigenous peoples who were on this continent when Quakers arrived from England and other European lands. We have read about how William Penn was respectful of the Native people and offered to pay “rent” for the land occupied by the new settlement that became Philadelphia. We have heard about Quaker missionaries who went out to “help” Native children learn the ways of European Christians.

There are threads of truth in these stories and others that we tell ourselves, but those small threads are too weak to tie together a benign story. As we look with open eyes at the history that our forebears (as white, European, Christian settlers) and Indigenous peoples walked through since the time of “first contact,” we can’t help but acknowledge that Quakers participated in — and sometimes led — the subjugation of Indigenous peoples and attempts to force Indigenous people to assimilate into an inflexible mold that fit the vision of white, European, Christian settler society.

This website offers resources to help all of us set aside the myths that come between us — as settler and Indigenous peoples –and to find joy in knowing all our relatives better and more honestly.

How Do We Start?

Once we know the real story, we will probably want to do what any family would do, once having discovered that one branch of the family was treated abominably by other branches in previous generations:

We will want to find each other, if we can. Descendants of colonizers and settlers will want to apologize and figure out together with our relatives how we can make it right.

Start with a few friends, or a small group from your meeting, church, or community.