As a nation we inhabit this beautiful land which once was the homeland of another people. Because of this, as our awareness has grown in recent years, this day is charged with many meanings and emotions. For some it is a day of ethnic pride. For others it marks the coming of Europeans to a land already populated. Before the arrival of Columbus, indigenous Americans were successful self-sufficient communities that sustained life for thousands of years. For them, Columbus Day glorifies the 500 years of colonial oppression by European explorers and those who came to settle here. For Italians who came as immigrants between 1880s and 1924 and encountered a xenophobic America engaging in acts of violence against immigrants, Columbus became a symbol with which they could connect to in a hostile environment.
This type of experience is still happening now. Although we live in a multicultural society and a global civilization, our present attitudes show that we still need to remember that, other than Native Americans, we are all immigrants or descended from immigrants. Some of the attitudes evident towards present day immigrants show that many of us still need to realize that. May we embrace the good that others have to teach us through their values and their cultures. May we appreciate the wisdom and reverence for the earth that we can learn from the indigenous American people and recognize the debt we owe them for past wrongs. May our nation find a just and viable way to welcome the stranger.
God, Source of all life, hear our prayer this day as we observe this national holiday. Help us to have a greater awareness of your magnificent gifts to us, the riches of our land, the splendors of the diverse peoples who form our country. Help us to view all your good gifts with respect and gratitude. Help us to understand that we need the forgiveness of those from whom we acquired this land and to learn to respect it as they did. Heal our divisions and bring us to unity.
Read an unbiased historically valid source of the early settlement of this country and the history of the Native American people. Read the stories of the successive waves of immigrants that came here later. Meditate on the meaning of justice and respect for others. Think of the present attitudes in our country toward immigrants. What does this say to you?
O Great Spirit
Let your voice whisper righteousness in our ear through the West Wind in the late of the day.
Let us be comforted with love for our brothers and sisters and no war.
Let us hold good health mentally and physically to solve our problems and accomplish something for future generations of life.
Let us be sincere to ourselves and our youth and make the world a better place to live.
Lloyd Carl Owle
O Great Spirit of the heavens, in the day’s infinite blue and amid the countless stars of the night season, remind us that you are vast, that you are beautiful and majestic beyond all of our knowing or telling, but also that you are no further from us than the tilting upwards of our heads and the raising of our eyes.
O Great Spirit of Mother Earth beneath our feet, Master of metals, Germinator of seeds and the Storer of the Earth’s unreckoned resources, help us to give thanks unceasingly for Your present bounty.
O Great Spirit of our souls, burning in our heart’s yearning and in our innermost aspirations, speak to us now and always so that we may be aware of the greatness and goodness of Your gift of life and be worthy of this priceless privilege of living.
From the Seven Sacred Prayers
Black Elk and others
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
My experience in living and working with indigenous people has given me the hope that I have – they have taught me concretely that humans have the capacity to be marvelous, and not destructive.
Juan Pablo Orrego
What has happened to us in this country? If we study our own history, we find that we have always been ready to receive the unfortunate from other countries, and though this may seem a generous gesture on our part, we have profited a thousand-fold by what they have brought us.
It is said that the quality of recent immigration is undesirable. The time is quite within recent memory when the same thing was said of immigrants who, with their descendants, are now numbered among our best citizens.
President Grover Cleveland
If we do not provide the same opportunities for future immigrants that were provided for our forefathers, it is an affront to our national ideals. Senator John McCain
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.