HISTORY OF THE INDIAN ECUMENICAL CONFERENCE AND THE CENTRE FOR INDIGENOUS SCHOLARS   

 

 

 

CENTRE FOR INDIGENOUS SCHOLARS

A native educational and religious institution

FOUNDED IN 1971

  • The Centre was established by the Steering Committee of the Indian Ecumenical conference in order to provide a permanent institution for First Nations religious leaders in North America, both Traditional and Christian. It was incorporated in 1972 as the Centre for Indian Scholars and changed its name to Centre for Indigenous Scholars in December, 2014.

INDIAN ECUMENICAL CONFERENCE HISTORY

  • FIRST CONFERENCE – 1970
  • 150 PEOPLE FROM 47 TRIBES FROM THE NORTH AMERICAN ISLAND
  • CROW RESERVATION, MONTANA
  • 93 DELEGATES
  • 42 UNOFFICIAL DELEGATES
  • 16 OBSERVERS

  • COORDINATED BY THE NISHNAWBE INSTITUTE, TORONTO

FUNDED BY THE PRIMATE’S FUND, ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA

THE CANADIAN CATHOLIC CONFERENCE

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, USA


1970 CONFERENCE CONCLUSIONS

  • MODERN INDIAN RELIGIOUS LIFE SHOULD BE CONTINUOUS WITH TIME HONOURED INDIAN VALUES AND PHILOSOPHICAL CONCERNS
  • MODERN INDIAN CEREMONIES AND INDIAN CHRISTIANITY ARE BOTH PART OF THAT CONTINUITY
  • NATIVE CEREMONIALS AND INDIAN CHRISTIANITY CAN BE MUTUALLY SUPPORTIVE
  • FUTURE CONFERENCES NEEDED TO IMPLEMENT THESE CONCLUSIONS


THE CONFERENCE ACCEPTED THE INVITATION OF CHIEF JOHN SNOW TO COME TO MORLEY, ALBERTA IN 1971

THE SECOND CONFERENCE WAS HELD IN MORLEY AND IT WAS DECIDED TO HOLD ALL FUTURE CONFERENCES ON THAT SACRED SITE


IEC GROWTH 1971 - PRESENT

The initial gathering grew from 150 to 10,000 native people by 1973. It met regularly until 1983 and then renewed itself in 1987. Further, the effort to discuss native religious issues by First Nations medicine people and Christian leaders provided the impetus for many regional meetings. Since 1987 smaller versions of the conference have continued to meet at Morley and Chief John Snow became the Chairperson of those conferences. The work of the Indian Ecumenical Conference was a unique turning point in the religious life and perspectives of North American Indian tribes.


ACHIEVEMENTS

  • The IEC called for the establishment of June 21’st as a National Indian Day of Prayer by both Canada and the United States. This lead to the creation of June 21st as an Aboriginal Day in Canada.
  • •The IEC provided the impetus for the re-emergence of traditional tribal religion.
  • The IEC caused many Christian religious institutions to reconsider their relationship to First Nations peoples.

  • The IEC was a catalyst for the development of First Nations clergy in many such institutions.

  • The IEC encouraged the inclusion by many medical practitioners of native healers in their treatment of First Nations patients.

  • The IEC advocated access of native religious practitioners to native prisoners.

  • The IEC resulted in increased use of native elders in schools, colleges and Universities.

  • The IEC caused many theologians to begin to reevaluate their positions in the light of the religious knowledge of First Nations peoples.

  • The IEC issued statements favoring protection of traditional ecological knowledge.

 

The Steering Committee of the Indian Ecumenical Conference called for the establishment of the Centre for Indian Scholars which was incorporated in 1972 in Canada as a charitable institution

The first CIS Board included Robert K. Thomas, Cherokee, President; Ian MacKenzie, Sec/Treasurer; Andrew Ahenekew, Cree; Andrew Dreadfulwater, Cherokee; and Stewart Etsitty, Navaho.

THE CENTRE FOR INDIAN SCHOLARS

GOALS

Foster the evolution, coordination and modern adaptation of the culture of North American Indian civilizations.

Provide special training and resources about Indian cultures, traditions and indigenous religious movements for religious leaders, clergy and service professionals.

Offer consultative services to assist in the solution of First Nations cross cultural or religious conflicts

Promote greater knowledge of North American Indian civilizations

ACTIVITIES 1972 - PRESENT

  • Organized and supported the development of a variety of regional meetings of religious leaders across the continent.
  • Provided resource persons and speakers for a variety of conferences.
  • Since 1985, participated in the Native Ministries Summer School at Vancouver School of Theology.

ACTIVITIES

  • Advised faculty and students at Vancouver School of Theology as they examined native religious matters and developed the Native Ministries Program
  • Sponsored with the Native Ministries Consortium an elders consultation in Vancouver
  • Supported the writing and publishing of the book ,A Good Cherokee, A Good Anthropologist: Papers in Honour of Robert K. Thomas, ed. Steve Pavlik, American Indian Studies Center, 1998, UCLA Press
  • Sponsored with the Wilp Wilxo'oskwhl Nisga'a a summer youth camp for Nisga’a youth in 2001

THE CIS BOARD – 2007

CAROL NADJIWON, OJIBWA, PRESIDENT

JACOB MCKAY, NISGA’A, VICE-PRESIDENT

MOSES MCKAY, NISGA’A, SEC/TREASURER

JEAN STENHOUSE, CREE, DIRECTOR

JIM WHITE, HEILTSUK, DIRECTOR

EMERITUS MEMBERS

JOHN A. (IAN) MACKENZIE

TERRY ANDERSON

CIS ADVISORY BOARD -2008

ARTHUR ELLIOT, OJIBWAY

PAT BUCKLEY, COAST SALISH

MARTIN BROKENLEG, LAKOTA

JOSE’(JOE) CANCIO, YOEMA/YAQUI

CECIL CORBETT, NEZ PERCE

PAUL ETHELBAH, WHITE MOUNTAIN APACHE

CLARA ETSITTY, NAVAHO

HERB GEORGE, WETSUETEN

JOHN HASCALL, CHIPPEWA

MARLENE WHITE RABBIT HELGEMO, HO CHUNK

JOE KEEPER. CREE

TED HOLAPPA, L’ANCE CHIPPEWA

JAN LONGBOAT, MOHAWK CAYUGA

MARK MACDONALD, WYANDOTTE

WILLARD MARTIN, NISGA'A

JOSE (JOE) MIGUEL, PAPAGO

ROLLAND NADJIWON, POTAWATOMIE

TOMMY NEZ, NAVAHO

AUBRAY PURLEY, MALASITE

MERVIN WOLFLEG, SIKSIKA

 

CIS PROJECTS

1. TO EXPLORE ERECTING A MEMORIAL TO THE FOUNDERS OF THE INDIAN ECUMENICAL CONFERENCE

2. TO CONVENE ROBERT K. THOMAS

MEMORIAL SYMPOSIUMS

3. TO CONVENE A REUNION OF STUDENTS WHO ATTENDED THE CANADIAN INDIAN YOUTH WORKSHOPS (1965-1973)

4. TO ESTABLISH A JOINT CENTRE AND PROGRAMS IN NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIONS, SPIRITUALITIES AND CULTURES WITH THE NATIVE MINISTRIES CONSORTIUM, THE VANCOUVER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND WILP WILXO’OSKWHL NISGA’A


1. A MEMORIAL

A primary goal of the Centre for Indian Scholars (CIS) is to facilitate communication and reconciliation between First Nations Christian religious leaders and First Nations traditional religious leaders.

The CIS board feels that erecting a memorial to the founders of the Indian Ecumenical Movement could be a catalyst to renewed healing.

GOAL – TO CALL FOR A CELEBRATION AND INITIATION OF THIS MEMORIAL


2. ROBERT K. THOMAS MEMORIAL SYMPOSIUM

The Robert K. Thomas Memorial Symposium.

The purpose of the Robert K. Thomas Symposium is to promote research, reflection, analysis and to create an opportunity for presentations on the culture, history and the many profound issues that face North American indigenous peoples. Our goal is to publish the material presented at these symposiums.

3. CANADIAN INDIAN YOUTH WORKSHOP REUNION

Robert K. Thomas was a major influence on the development of First Nations leadership in Canada and the United States through the Canadian Indian Youth workshops. Many former members feel that such workshops are once again needed. CIS proposes a reunion of members to discuss this.

THE PLAN – INVITE FORMER CIYW MEMBERS TO CONSIDER FORMING A COMMITTEE TO IMPLEMENT SUCH A CONFERENCE REUNION


A VISION OF A NATIVE SPRITUAL CENTRE


NEGOTIATIONS WITH VANCOUVER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

  • BEGAN IN 1991
  • CIS FUNDED BY GRANT FROM FELLOWSHIP OF THE MAPLE LEAF, UK
  • GOAL – LOCATE THE CENTRE WITHIN THE VANCOUVER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
  • IN 1994 THE NISGA’A POST SECONDARY INSTITUTION WILP WILXO’OSKWL NISGA’A AND THE NATIVE MINISTRIES CONSORTIUM JOINED THE NEGOTIATIONS
  • THE NEW GOAL – FORM A CONSORTIUM TO ESTABLISH A NORTH AMERICAN TRIBAL RELIGIOUS STUDIES CENTRE

  • NEGOTATIONS CONTINUED THROUGH 1998 BUT THEN STALLED UNTIL 2000
  • SUMMER OF 2001 VANCOUVER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY RESUMED NEGOTIATIONS AFTER RECEIVING APPROVAL FOR THE PROCESS FROM THEIR BOARD
  • A STEERING COMMITTEE CONSISTING OF TWO MEMBERS FROM EACH INSTITUTION WAS ESTABLISHED

STEERING COMMITTEE

  • THE STEERING COMMITTEE ELECTED AS THEIR CHAIRPERSON CAROL NADJIWON, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE CENTRE FOR INDIAN SCHOLARS
  • THIS COMMITTEE MET IN TERRACE,B.C, IN OCTOBER, 2002 AND IN VANCOUVER IN FEBRUARY
  • A PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT AND TERMS OF REFERENCE WERE APPROVED ON FEBRUARY 4TH, 2003

CIS AND STEERING COMMITTEE MEETINGS

THE AGREEMENT

THE FOUR PARTNERS:

  • CENTRE FOR INDIAN SCHOLARS
  • NATIVEMINISTRIES CONSORTIUM
  • THE WILP WILXO’OSKWHL NISGA’A
  • VANCOUVER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

COMMIT OURSELVES TO THE FOLLOWING GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS:

  • TO ESTABLISH A CONSORTIUM OF THE PARTNERS

AGREEMENT

2. TO DEVELOP A CENTRE AND PROGRAMS IN NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIONS,SPIRITUALITIES AND CULTURES WHICH WILL

  • PROVIDE AN ENVIRONMENT FOR NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS, INCLUDING CHRISTIANS, TO TAKE COUNSEL ABOUT ISSUES FACING THEIR NATIONS AND COMMUNITIES.
  • FOSTER, DEVELOP AND ENCOURAGE NATIVE AMERICANS TO CARRY FORWARD THEIR TRADITIONS INTO THE FUTURE SO TRIBAL NATIONS AND SOCIETIES CAN SURVIVE AND FLOURISH, AND
  • PROVIDE A CONTEXT FOR CONFRONTING THE LEGACY OF COLONIZATION.

AGREEMENT SIGNED FEB.4, 2003

The partners have named their project YUUHADAAX, A Nisga’a word which means "to steer".

The immediate goals of the Centre for Indian Scholars for 2008 include the following:

The implementation of a Religious Studies Program in Native American Indigenous Spirituality and Cultures including certificate, diploma and degree programs with the members of Yuu-hadaax

Participation in dialogue with Christian, Jewish, and Islamic leaders to achieve reconciliation among youth through Yuu-hadaax.

Publication and distribution of the presentations and papers of the July, 2007, God is Still Red Symposium.

Convening twice a year think tanks of the Advisory Board of the Centre.

Convening a workshop of the former members of the Canadian Indian Youth Workshops.

Collating and publishing the materials from the Second R.K. Thomas symposium.

Establishing a memorial to the founders of the Indian Ecumenical Conference.

Planning and implementing the next (2015) symposium.

Establishing local centres to implement the interface between traditional values and local communities and congregations.


 

CCopyright 2010 Centre for Indienous Scholars. All rights reserved. April 2017