An Official Apology Needed?

(Native Americans and others, please comment. Is such an apology necessary or approprite as an official Resolution for Oklahoma or your state?))An Official Apology to Native Americans

The mistreatment of the First Peoples of this country and continent are among the most horrific stories in American history. Citizens today regret the violence, maltreatment and neglect inflicted on Native Americans by former generations and with an official apology from Oklahoma, and other states, we seek Indian’s forgiveness.

Some say, I’ve never harmed Indians; why then should my state or any state apologize? Today, we can rightfully say that we are not personally responsible for such historical injustices, but I submit that we do have corporate responsibility for evil acts of our generations.

Speaking to the faith community: If Judeo-Christians say that they have no responsibility, then they use language and concepts more akin to late Western thought than to the Eastern worldview of the Bible. “I have no responsibility,” is a mantra of individualism championed by eighteen-century Rationalism. The Hebrew and early Christian worldview and view of themselves was that of the Corporate Personality, not individualism. Their view was not “I” but we; we are the family, the tribe, the nation, and God’s people.

We can not dissociate ourselves from unpleasant history and at the same time take pride and celebrate accomplishments of our ancestors. Our history is our history, all of it!

God speaks to men and women; and they are personally responsible and answerable to him. We also find in the scripture, the concept of the solidarity and accountability of humankind as a whole, of Israel, individual nations, and of the Church. However, this corporate accountability never relieves the individual of personal responsibility to God. Collective responsibility must not be allowed to obscure the fact that in the last analysis it is the person, not the state, which must stand before the Judgment Seat.

During the reign of King David, Israel suffered a three-year famine. God informed David that the famine was because of his predecessor, King Saul, who tried to annihilate a tribe of people. David made amends with the tribe. God then answered David’s prayer and the famine ended.

The prophet Daniel said he “was praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel…” Corporate responsibility extends not just to injustices of this age but also to certain acts in history. God honors symbolic acts and ceremonies when the heart is pure. He has withheld blessings and revival when apology and repentance was not forthcoming. Such a time of repentance, reconciliation, and official apology has come for both the states and the faith community.

My House Joint Resolution (HJR000) is an official apology. This would be both symbolic for all, and healing for Native Americans. It would never make up for injustices of American and Oklahoma history. However, it is a step in the direction of reconciliation and love.

Representative Paul Wesselhöft

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About Wesselhoft, Paul

Retired U.S. Army (Airborne Ranger) Chaplain; State Representative, Oklahoma House of Representatives; Representative, Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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