Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why do I write what I write?

A lot of people wonder why I write about some historical injustice heaped upon the Navajo People in the 1800's.

I mean, they're just Indians, right? 
Who really cares, right?
Just hush up and accept what happened and move on, right?

No. No. And no.

A thousand times, NO.

Imagine this little girl, chased by a grown man on horseback, yanked off the ground by her collar and taken captive. 

Jesus died for her.
He knew HER name on the cross.
He knew the hairs on her sweet little head.
He knew her giggle.
He knew her smile.
He knew her name.

My smart, kind, witty and very gracious Navajo advisor, Mr. Theodore Charles, told me to look up a document from 1493 that set hell in motion for millions of people.

Here is an excerpt of an article on The Document of Discovery.

"King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella required those working on their behalf to read a statement to any Indigenous Peoples they discovered. The statement was read in Latin and Spanish, languages spoken by none of the people they encountered. In part it said to the Indigenous People:

But if you do not do this (accept Spanish rule), and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their highnesses; we shall take you, and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him: and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us…

Before we judge the papal edicts too harshly, we need to know of the Anglican connection to this Doctrine of Discovery. In 1496, King Henry VII granted a patent to John Cabot and his sons to possess all lands in the New World not previously discovered by Portugal or Spain. It is known as the 1496 Royal Charter of the Church of England. It reads in part:
And that the before-mentioned John and his sons or their heirs and deputies may conquer, occupy and possess whatsoever such towns, castles, cities and islands by them thus discovered that they may be able to conquer, occupy and possess, as our vassals and governors lieutenants and deputies therein, acquiring for us the dominion, title and jurisdiction of the same towns, castles, cities, islands and mainlands so discovered..."

You can read the whole article here:

Can you imagine you're standing on a beach in Brazil and some twit in short pants and a silver helmet is reading this to you? Only you don't really know what reading is, because you don't have a written language. And you can't understand him anyway. And he and his peeps look gnarly and smell funny.

And the next thing you know, you and everyone you know is in chains.

Tell me where the mercy and justice and Christ-like behaviour was then and in 1864, and then we'll chat about why I write what I do.

Theodore Charles' son Mark Charles has a great blog, which you can find here:


  1. Good for you, finding that amazing statement (commonly accepted in those times.) You're probably also aware of the Treaty of Tordesillas written decided by the Pope in 1492 I believe sharing all discoveries found in the New World between Spain & Portugal, which is why Brazil speaks Portuguese, the rest of S. Am. Spanish, etc. = far-reaching results that I love to include when I teach W. Civ. I'll add your Queen Isabella statement, too.

    1. Ted Charles told me about that statement, in the Doctrine of Discovery. It sickens me to think that was the accepted mindset of the day. I'll look up the Treaty of Tordesillas. Thanks!

  2. Great day. Yes, the surface has not been scraped on all the atrocities done to the Native Americans. Glad you're bringing things to light.

    1. I'm trying to make a difference, big or small, I want to be known as someone who tried.

  3. Jennifer, I love that you are acting on the passion God placed in your heart. Thank you for sharing this today!

    1. You're quite welcome. I can't NOT tell this story. I have to follow through on that passion.

  4. I love your heart for the Navajo! Write on, Jenn. Back in Dallas, years ago, I attended a outdoor worship conference of sorts, where Native Americans led the worship in their native language. I'll never forget how one of the conference leaders very bluntly asked the Native Americans for forgiveness, on behalf of the American government. The Native Americans (can't remember what tribe), they just wept, and there was such a sweet spirit about the place.

  5. Thank you, Jennifer...for being who you are, for writing what you write. For sharing this.
    I feel like can't even begin to grasp or process the Doctrine of Discovery and all its implications and baggage. It's just so overwhelming sometimes. I guess that's why we need the Lord.

    Anyway...thanks, friend.

  6. Thank YOU, Kiersti!
    It shatters my heart to know what was done to so many Native people was done in the name of Christ. I feel almost like I can fight back, but I have to do it with words and grace, and season it all with prayer.

  7. I always like how we learned in school, how Christopher Columbus (such a Glory Hog) discovered America. Like the Indians didn't matter or for that matter were even considered human.

    1. Hi BW, exactly! As if NO ONE was here? And no, they did not consider anyone who was deemed worthy of conquering to be of similar or superior intelligence, or remotely human.

      The policy of treating individuals as sub-human was and is entirely un-Biblical. But the Spanish and Portuguese, and the English and French, did so across the world. It was as bad then as it is now, only now, it's more hidden.

  8. Jennifer,

    I share your views regarding the sad history of our country. It's easy for people to say "move on, that happened long ago," but for the First Nations People still living in poverty on reservations, it's not ancient history as we know it. I'm so thankful God gave me a heart for the Native People.

    1. Hello Linda! Thank you for visiting and commenting!
      The poverty is sickening, isn't it? And you're entirely correct, it's not ancient history, it's today!!

      So few people have a sweet clue of the on-going issues in most of the Native American communities, but one of them is heat in the winter. I did an interview with actor/director/producer/writer/stunt man/all around nice guy Jay Tavare, you can see it here:
      He has a charity specifically for buying firewood for Navajo Elders. Because they're so poor, they can't always afford firewood and they have no electricity. SO sad in a world where we can tweet a photo from one end of the Earth to another, and yet people freeze in our own back yards.

      I'm thankful God gave you a heart for the Native people, too!

  9. One of the unfortunate bits of fallout from the US government's treatment of the Native Americans is that there is a general hands-off policy toward ALL indigenous people.

    Which means that even though we were involved in Southeast Asia, we stood by while Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge killed a third of Cambodia's population. It was Khmers killing Khmers, you see...

    And in the 90s, Madeleine Albright (on orders from the Clinton administration) blocked action in the UN that would have authorized intervention in the Rwandan Genocide - by African nations.

    Today, the pathetic protests to a strong response top Syria's use of sarin gas is in the same category. It's a Syrian / Arab / Middle Eastern problem.

    1. One of the UN "peacekeepers" in Rwanda was a Canadian general named Romeo D'Allaire. You've probably heard of him. I think you and he would get along just fine. He earned the respect of every Canadian for his efforts in Rwanda.

      As for US policies, I'll just keep my personal thoughts a bit more private, but you know what they are.