A Special Message to Swedenborgians
about Native Americans

Why should we care about this subject? It can be safely assumed that as Christians, we will want to show love and compassion for all people. As Americans, we are comitted to the values of fairness and of equal justice under the law. It is also true that Indians and non-Indians have much to learn from each other.

However, there are other reasons why we might care.

First, Swedenborgians are not a missionary church. This means that they do not share the negative history that is the legacy of other denominations.

Second, Swedenborgian theology is compatible with many Native religions.

Third, we have positive role models of Indian/non-Indian relations, including Johnny Appleseed and Red Fox Skiuhushu.

In short, Swedenborgians share with Quakers an excellent basis for positive relationships with Indians.

One of the central beliefs of Swedenborgianism is "charity," or love actively expressed toward the neighbor. Most Swedenborgian churches are within driving distance (two hours or less) of an Indian community. It's time to get to know our neighbors, the American Indians.

What Swedenborg said about Native Americans

There is a misunderstanding among some people that Swedenborg did not know of the existence of American Indians. Of course, he had no firsthand knowledge, but he did have a relative in America who had dealings with Indians. Also, he had some familiarity with them. To find out what Swedenborg had to say about American Indians, read the following: Spiritual Diary 402 (also Arcana Coelestia 2602) and SD 5880; or De Verbo (Concerning the Word) 39-40 and Doctrine of the Sacred Scriptures 105 and 117; or Divine Providence 330 and True Christian Religion 107, 268, and 275. As you read these selections, please keep in mind that Swedenborg was a product of his culture. Therefore, some of his statements will reflect his cultural background.

Swedenborgian Denominational Resources

The Swedenborgian denominations in America have only recently begun to receive significant numbers of members from other cultures. Understandably, the cultural awareness resources are slight. Johnny Appleseed and the Frontier Within (a Swedenborg Foundation film) is a starting point for introducing Swedenborgians to their Indian neighbors. It presents an excellent role model/method: just do as Johnny did. There are "buried" resources from Swedenborgian periodicals such as the Messenger and the New Jerusalem Magazine. I had planned to put these in a booklet called Native Americans and the Swedenborgian Church. I now have health concerns, and while the booklet might appear, I'm likely to post what I currently have at this website.

There are other resources. First, I have written a cycle of worship resources which is primarily useful for both pan-Indian or inter-tribal groups and Lakota Christian or Native Christian groups. At this point, it is free to Native groups for the postage costs, and acknowlegement and inclusion of the author's copyright on all printed materials. Second, this website's section on Native Christianity has some thoughts for pondering. For instance, Red Fox Skiuhushu was a Blackfeet Indian (probably undocumented) who was well-known in Pan-Indian affairs during the first part of the twentieth century. He had a short relationship with General Convention during which he sought ordination and mission resources. Third, those interested in interfaith connections or spirituality may want to consult my M.A. thesis in Swedenborgian Studies, entitled "The Experience of Sacred Power for Black Elk and Swedenborg." There are copies in the Swedenborg School of Religion library at SSR, 48 Sargent St., Newton, MA 02158. The SSR library also has a copy of a tape about the Red Road Movement, which is a movement dedicated to maintaining Native sobriety.

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