At last night's opening ceremony we learned something that I'm sure other folks knew, although it doesn't sound like too many of us did.
Just after the civil war, word went out that it was time to enact the (white) manifest destiny in this country. Civilize the Indians. And guess who the government called on to help with this action? The churches. So each denomination took an " agency" for which they agreed to bring white people's clothing styles, family life and agriculture to the people already living there.
The Unitarians took the Ute People.
President Sinkford read to us from the American Unitarian Association writings from the time. It set forth a plan for how to bring civilization to the Ute People. We heard an excerpt from the written reports by the ministers sent to do this work.
It was awful for me to hear, but so necessary. I know that the reason Rev. Dr. Sinkford left our faith as a young adult was because of the decision not to make reparations. Right? It's been long couple of days for me, but I think that's right. So for me, to hear him tell the gathered congregation of the General Assembly that he was deeply apologizing to the Ute People and asking for forgiveness so that the reconciliation could begin--in completed the circle. Kind of. Deeply moving and very poetic. Two representatives of the Ute People spoke to us, the younger man (no names, I'm at a loss, so sorry) accepted the apology personally, not for his people, but for himself. And then the elder spoke to us in a quiet and shuffly voice. He took space and time, and then he blessed us with a prayer that he sang.
I am sorry too. I am deeply sorry. This was my people who participated in the genocide. In the theft. And I am very sorry. I hope that the truth can help us see the reality and perhaps, begin again in love. May it be so, please, may it be so.