Lord God, during this Lenten season, teach us to come before you in humility, lamenting the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. Help us to acknowledge our finitude and failings, and guide us into a journey of remembering rightly, repenting honestly, and responding faithfully. We long for the coming of your mosaic kingdom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and invite your Holy Spirit to lead us now.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: MARCH 24, 1832
Treaty of Cusetta
On March 24, 1832, Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Cusseta with United States, under which they were stripped of their land in Alabama and forcibly removed from the state by 1837. Leading up to the treaty, in the late 1820s, Alabama lawmakers had enacted three laws, called “extension laws,” that extended the state’s jurisdiction over several tracts of Creek territory in the state. They also passed another law that forbade the Creeks from hunting, fishing, and trapping within the state, which essentially limited them to farming as a livelihood. These and similar laws in other states were supported by President Andrew Jackson, who was committed to removing Native Americans from desirable land, and continued to strip Creeks of their rights and sovereignty.
According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama:
“In May 1830, the federal Indian Removal Act was signed into law, giving the president the authority to exchange lands west of the Mississippi River for Indian lands in the East. Then, in January 1832, the Alabama legislature passed another “extension law” that extended the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the state over all Creek and Cherokee territory within the state. It forbade Indians from passing laws contrary to state law and from meeting in council, thereby undermining the authority of tribal leaders. The law led to new roads being cut through Creek land and more illegal squatting by whites that had begun in earnest after the establishment of the Federal Road approximately 25 years earlier. In addition, it created conflict between the federal government, which had pledged to protect Native American sovereignty, and Alabama officials, who desired the Creek land for settlement. Alabama lawmakers still resented the fact that three million acres ceded to the United States in the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs had been returned to the Creeks in the Second Treaty of Washington (1826).”
After the treaty was signed, many of the Creek Indians were taken advantage of by settlers, who purchased the treaty-promised land for next to nothing. Other Creeks who managed to keep their legal titles became overcome by squatters, whom state and federal officials refused to evict. When conflicts broke out between Creeks and other settlers, federal officials intervened. Consequently, many Creeks were compelled to agree to federal terms outlined in the Treaty of Cusetta, and were both stripped of their land and eventually deported from their homes to broader Indian territory.
The Treaty of Cusetta is just one example of government exploitation, deception, and oppression of native tribes and lands. Broken treaties exist all over the nation. Native Americans have been repeatedly robbed of land, money, and resources that they were promised and legally entitled to, with little to no recourse.
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: ISAIAH 33:7-9
“Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets;
the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
8 The highways are deserted,
no travelers are on the roads.
The treaty is broken,
its witnesses are despised,
no one is respected.
9 The land dries up and wastes away,
Lebanon is ashamed and withers;
Sharon is like the Arabah,
and Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves.
RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day24
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: A PRAYER OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (Mark Charles, 2013)
“Our Father who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Father, over 500 years ago a sailor got lost at sea. And in your name he claimed to have “discovered” a land that was already inhabited. He was followed by hundreds, then thousands and soon millions of other “un-documented” immigrants.
In your name these immigrants committed acts of genocide against our native peoples.
In your name they stole our land.
In your name they signed and then broke treaties.
In your name they took our children from our homes and violently forced them to assimilate to their culture.
In your name they counted us as less than human.
And in your name they marginalized those of us who were left to the fringes of their society.
Father, a little over 3 years ago, in your name, the ancestors of these immigrants attempted to apologize for their history.
But in your name, they vaguely worded their apology so they could not be held accountable for their actions.
And in your name they buried their apology in a Defense Department appropriations bill and never spoke of it publically.
And Father, today, in your name they are rallying around and celebrating a proposed bill to ‘comprehensively’ reform immigration law. But they have never acknowledged, nor reconciled, the original immigration injustices of this nation. Nor have they seriously consulted or included the voices of the indigenous peoples of this land in the writing of this bill.
For as Native peoples, we are all but invisible to them.
So Father, for nothing other than the glory of your name, I ask you to act.
For the glory of your name I ask you to compel this nation of immigrants to acknowledge and face their unjust history.
For the glory of your name I ask you to bring a conversation for reconciliation the forefront of our national consciousness.
For the glory of your name I ask you to demonstrate to my country that without being reconciled with, and getting input from, indigenous peoples this “nation of immigrants” lacks the authority to comprehensively reform immigration law, as well as the ability to rule these lands justly.
For the glory of your name, I ask you to raise up indigenous peoples and allow us to once again be the hosts of this land. To share our families, our stories and, our connection to this land with our guests.
Father, if you fail to act.
If you allow the United States and your church to play both sides of this coin.
If you allow them to commit acts of injustice in your name.
If you allow them to bury their apology for these injustices in your name.
If you allow them to celebrate their blindness and to rule without integrity in your name.
Then many native peoples in the US, and other indigenous peoples throughout the world, may see your inaction and conclude as true the lie which we have been told for 5 centuries…
…that you truly are the “White man’s God.”
Father, I am not asking you to judge our nation, nor am I seeking your vengeance upon our guests.
Instead, I am pleading for your healing.
Heal my people.
Heal our guests.
Heal our land.
Our Father who art in Heaven
Hollowed by thy name.
May thy kingdom come,
May thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.”
-From the blog of Mark Charles