Who We Are . . .

We are a group of North American Quakers seeking to:

* Learn and act upon the truth of Quaker history with Indigenous Peoples, 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 those concerned;

* Support each other and connect with other concerned Friends practically and spiritually as we work to raise awareness within our local communities and in the broader Quaker community;

* Offer support, information, and resources for non-Indigenous Quakers to help them discern and develop right relationships with Indigenous people, within and beyond the Quaker community;

* Lift up the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a moral and legal framework for justice and right relationships;

* Acknowledge, honor and respect Indigenous ways of knowing that offer non-Western/ non-colonial approaches, including understandings of the environmental, social, economic and spiritual conditions that threaten us all;

* Walk respectfully in ways that increase cultural integrity and justice for Indigenous nations and communities, and for the Earth.

How “Decolonizing Quakers” Came to Be

Decolonizing Quakers is a project that had its origins in a conference at Pendle Hill in May 2018 entitled “Truth and Healing: Quakers Seeking Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples.” The conference included Quakers of multiple ethnic identities and some Indigenous people who did not identify as Quaker. At that conference, a Friend voiced a leading to explore forming a group of North American Quakers to continue the work that was identified as ours to do institutionally and individually as Quakers.

A working committee formed in the months following the conference to discern a way forward.  Recognizing that those initiating this effort were largely of European descent and from one branch of Quakerism, the committee has reached out to involve Indigenous and other Friends of color, Friends from the various branches of Quakerism, and Friends from across our geographical territories.  

The working committee has met monthly since July 2018 and has wrestled with a statement of purpose that has evolved as its members have acknowledged a complexity of issues: 

* The North American experience shares commonalities with the dismissal and attempted erasure of Indigenous Peoples worldwide and particularly with English-colonized countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. 

*  Descendants of colonized peoples and colonizers alike have necessary work to do that is separate but interconnected.  It involves our mindsets, cultural patterns and systems of domination.  

*  Some of this work needs to proceed independently without bringing about further injury on Indigenous people, by placing a burden on them to educate European-Americans. Yet the work has to proceed in relationship with and following the leadership of Indigenous peoples. 

*  The work of decolonizing, both the educating and the healing, intersects with the need to address the legacy of slavery, continuing racism, and the continuing oppression of women.  It is also a matter of urgency to the survival of the human species and the health of the Earth as Mother of us all. Part of our struggle is to define a mission and purpose that can remain sufficiently focused to be effective and at the same time recognize that it is only a part of a broader vision of healing.

About this Website

Language matters. The Decolonizing Quakers web site will use the terms Indigenous, Tribal, First Nations and Native, in preference to the inaccurate term “Indian,” to refer generally to the original peoples of the North American continent.   Where possible and appropriate, we will use the names of particular Tribal Nations. 

Out of respect for the choices made by Indigenous leaders, however, we will not edit or change the names of Indigenous organizations or programs, or books or articles by Indigenous authors. 

For clarity in writing about laws, bills, or programs misnamed by the settler governments, we will use the commonly used names, even though they include an inaccurate term.

Example of an organization:  National Congress of American Indians
Example of an institution:  National Museum of the American Indian
Example of a program:  Indian Health Service
Example of a law:  Indian Child Welfare Act
Example of a bill in Congress: “Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act”
Example of a book:  In the Courts of the Conqueror:  The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided, by Walter R. Echohawk