On Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year, the ELCA published “A Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to American Indian and Alaska Native People,” in which the church confesses its sins toward Indigenous peoples and lists the commitments it will begin working toward as it responds to its original “Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery” from 2016.
One commitment found in each document is to formally acknowledge the original inhabitants of North America. The declaration states, “We commit to begin the practice of land acknowledgments at all expressions of the church.”
Vance Blackfox, Director for Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations with the ELCA, has prepared a guide for those who wish to begin a journey toward truth and healing by practicing land acknowledgements. It includes examples of statements that you can speak at the beginning of every worship service, print at the top of worship bulletins, use to create outdoor signage and more.Download Document
The Lutheran witness of the gospel with American Indian and Alaska Native people has a history of more than 350 years. The Lutheran witness was seen among the Cherokee as they walked the infamous trail of tears and continues all the way to the Northern shores of Alaska’s Inupiat Eskimo people. The ELCA’s American Indian and Alaska Native membership is around 4,850. The American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries works closely with 30 native congregations around the country and is working to open new faith communities as well.
Relationships with American Indians and Alaska Natives in the ELCA are firmly grounded in reconciliation and the mutual building up of the saints — people of all backgrounds, tribes, regions, communities, congregations and unique needs. Together, we work with a common vision to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, share in the ministry of word and sacrament, participate in God’s work of reconciliation in the world and creation, seek justice for all people and celebrate diversity within Christ’s unifying love. In our shared work, we strive to nurture and uphold the dignity of American Indian and Alaska Native people, their congregations and communities, and the church.
An American Indian and Alaska Native Strategic Plan was adopted in 1997 and provides American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries with a vision and comprehensive plan that points to the future. Visit the Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries resources and read the full text of the American Indian and Alaska Native Strategic Plan as a downloadable resource.
American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association
As an association of American Indians and Alaska Natives of the ELCA, created in the image of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to serve and love our neighbor, and promote healing and wholeness within ourselves, the church, society and the Earth. We are proud to be Lutheran because we are a church that is deeply rooted in Scripture, tradition and the Lutheran Confessions, as well as in the vibrant communities and rich histories of our congregations. These roots are a source of nourishment that enable us to be a church that is both resilient and always being reformed.
The mission of the American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association of the ELCA is to: