REFLECTION: The forgotten plight of Native Americans

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

When it comes to the harsh difficulties many Native Americans face every day, the saying “out of sight, out mind” hits home.

Many people have only a vague sense of the serious past and present injustices suffered by Native Americans.

From the very beginning, starting with Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the Bahamas, we get a sad introduction of how Europeans, Americans and Canadians, would steal from, enslave and kill Native Americans largely for their land and natural resources.

Columbus in his quest for gold and power, according to the late famous social justice historian Howard Zinn, enslaved and decimated the peaceful native Arawaks – who greeted him and his crew with food, water, and various gifts when he first landed in the Bahamas.

Later on in the United States, the federal government would do much the same. In fact, within the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers in a series of grievances against King George III of Great Britain, included a “grievance” that would haunt Native Americans throughout much of U.S. history. The king, they wrote, “has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

With an attitude that Native Americans were sub-human “merciless Indian savages” the federal government, U.S. army, and many white settlers forced countless Native Americans off their lands, away from ancient hunting grounds, and unto reservations.

The most infamous removal of Native Americans took place in 1838 when the Cherokee nation was strongly pressured to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma.

The Cherokee people called this militarily forced journey the “Trail of Tears” because of its devastating effects. The migrants faced hunger, disease, and exhaustion on the forced march. Historians estimated that well over 4,000 out of 15,000 Cherokees died.

Another tragic example of U.S. injustices toward Native Americans came on Dec. 29, 1890 when the U.S. 7th Cavalry surrounded a Lakota Sioux camp near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and massacred between 150 to 300 men, women and children.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission in a report titled “A Quiet Crisis,” states that “in exchange for land and in compensation for forced removal from their original homelands, the government promised through laws, treaties, and pledges to support and protect Native Americans. However, funding for programs associated with those promises has fallen short, and Native peoples continue to suffer the consequences of a discriminatory history. …

“Native Americans still suffer higher rates of poverty, substandard housing, and higher rates of disease and illness. Native Americans continue to rank at or near the bottom of nearly every social, health, and economic indicator. …

“Native Americans living on tribal lands do not have access to the same services and programs available to other Americans, even though the government has a binding trust obligation to provide them.”

Please contact your congressional delegation urging them to finally fulfill this binding trust obligation.

Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce tribal nation eloquently said, “Treat all men alike. Give them the same laws. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”

Now that’s the Gospel truth!

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. Please contact your diocesan newspaper and request that they carry Tony’s column. Tony is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at

ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Religious leaders urge the U.S. to work to negotiate a 2-state peace agreement

from the USCCB

WASHINGTON—Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of 25 national religious organizations wrote to President Obama today urging “a renewed, determined U.S. effort, in coordination with the Quartet, to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement before it is too late.” The entities comprising the Quartet are the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

11oped_spanThe religious leaders warned that the Gaza war “demonstrated once again that there is no military solution to the conflict” and given developments on the ground, including violent clashes in Jerusalem, “simply urging the parties to return to negotiations is no longer sufficient.”

The signers of the letter represented the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East. Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, represented the U.S. bishops.

“We believe the outline for a two-state peace agreement is widely known and would likely be accepted by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians if presented by their leaders as the only viable alternative to more violence and war,” they wrote. “UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, the Taba Agreement (2001), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People’s Voice Initiative (2003), the Geneva Initiative (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), taken together, provide practical and reasonable ideas for resolving all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem.”…

Click here to read the rest of the release.

TAKE ACTION: Protect nuclear diplomacy with Iran! Netanyahu stay home!

from United for Peace and Justice

[Pax Christi USA is a member organization of United for Peace and Justice.]

The last thing the world needs is another Middle East confrontation. Yet there are politicians in both political parties, who seem determined to create one. Although the international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have made significant progress, Senators Kirk and Menendez are reviving legislation that would threaten Iran with new sanctions.

President Obama made it clear in his State of the Union Address that such legislation would kill the prospects for a deal.  The EU and UK also have called on the U.S. Congress to use restraint so as not to undermine negotiations. Although President Obama is threatening to veto the bill should it be passed in both Houses,there is areal danger that there may be enough Aye votes in the Senate to override a veto. The only way to prevent this outcome is for massive grassroots pressure.

Speaker Boehner’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the Congress on this subject and the latter’s acceptance of this invitation attests to the toxic role, which this right-wing Israeli government and its American allies, including AIPAC are continuing to play in American politics. It is high time that thisaggressive intervention in American foreign policy cease. Even if you have already called, pick up the phone and call your Senators again.

DC Congressional Switchboard is 202-224-3121 Ask to be connected toboth your Senators.  Let them know:

  • You are opposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intervention in American national security policy.

  • You support the Obama Administration’s diplomacy with Iran and believe it is in the best interest of the United States and the rest of the world.

  • You are strongly opposed to the Menendez-Kirk effort to push a sanctions bill through the Senate.

When you make this call ask the staff member where the Senator stands on these issues. Please pass along any responses to

IMMIGRATION: Pax Christi USA signs onto statement that immigration reform is a “pro-life” issue

Last week, Pax Christi USA signed onto a statement with 100 other Catholic leaders challenging “pro-life” Catholics in Congress to make immigration reform a “pro-life” issue.

Immigration rally“As the national Catholic peace with justice movement we urge our elected officials to defend the sanctity of human lives at all stages. We too recognize the image of God in the migrant at the border, in the prisoner on death row, in the pregnant woman and in the hungry child,” stated Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN. “It is time for all Congressional representatives to come together and vote for a comprehensive immigration reform bill.”

Read press release accompanying the statement by clicking here.

REFLECTION: Remembering Joan Wittreich, brave and constant early leader of Pax Christi Long Island

By Bob Keeler

The history of Pax Christi Long Island—before it even had that name—is so deeply entwined with the life and witness of Joan Wittreich that her death is an especially significant, poignant, and sad moment for our movement. So we are giving this whole issue of Peaceworks to her story.

In my own mind, and in the minds of so many, Joan will always be linked with another towering peace-and-justice figure on Long Island, her friend Joop van der Grinten. As Joop grew older and driving became more of a challenge for him, Joan —or Joan and Chuck, her husband— would often drive him to meetings of the Pax Christi Long Island council and to a wide variety of peacemaking events. Joop died in 2007, at the age of 88. Joan died in August, at 81. Both deaths affected me as deeply as the passing of a close relative. Joop was a father figure to me and to many in the movement, a great white-maned lion of peace. And Joan was like a wise and treasured older sister, a great red-maned lioness of peace.

The simple statement of her dates reads: July 4, 1932-August 17, 2013. But there’s a lot to “the dash between those years,” as Linda Ellis wrote in “The Dash Poem,” a favorite of Colleen Hogan, one of Joan’s six children. The final stanza says:

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

“Boy, did she fill up her dash with good stuff,” Colleen said…

Read the entire article about Joan by clicking here.

REFLECTION: The way to peace is not through violence, but through love

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Today, January 26, is Bishop Thomas Gumbleton’s birthday. How fitting that the most recent reflection from his Peace Pulpit series in NCR is entitled, “The way to peace is not through violence, but through love”! Happy birthday Bishop Gumbleton from all of us at Pax Christi USA! Feel free, readers, to post comments wishing him a happy birthday below or on our Facebook page.]

As I was reflecting on the readings for this Sunday, I thought that because they — at least, the first reading and the Gospel reading — emphasized being called, that maybe this is a vocation Sunday, a Sunday when we think about our own call to follow Jesus. There was a time, I’m sure, and many of you may remember this, when if you happened to go to a Catholic school especially, or another religious ed program, the parents sponsored a vocation day. But it was always focused on being a priest, brother, or religious nun, and so those were the vocations in the church.

verso04But the call that we’re talking about, the real vocation, is the one that is happening in the Scriptures today. It’s the call to every one of us to be a disciple of Jesus. A disciple of Jesus: one who is intent on listening to Jesus, hearing what he says, watching how he acts, and following him. And sometimes we might think that that’s not so difficult, to follow Jesus. But if we explore a little bit of what it really means to follow Jesus, it’s truly a challenge, but it’s so important that every one of us try to deepen our awareness of our call and what it means.

In the Gospel today, the first ones called by Jesus — Philip and Andrew, and then Simon the next day — all of them immediately follow Jesus, even though at the time they didn’t know exactly where he was going to lead them, what would be expected of them. In the Gospel of Luke, there’s a passage where a young person, a young man, comes up to Jesus enthusiastically because he wants to follow Jesus, he thinks….

To read this entire article, click here.