United Methodist Church Donates to National Native
American Learning Center
YORK-- The United Methodist Church has
donated $50,000 to the National Park
Service for the development of the Sand Creek Massacre Learning Center. Located in Eads, Colo. near the Sand Creek
Massacre National Historic Site, the center will feature education materials to
help visitors understand the impact of the massacre and its relationship to
contemporary issues worldwide.
Creek National Historic Site is a sacred place," said the Rev. Stephen Sidorak, general secretary of the
General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, a United
Methodist agency with offices in New York. "I am proud that the church is
providing seed money that will be matched by the National Park Service. This history needs to be told."
Methodist Church has a shocking connection to Sand Creek. On Nov. 29, 1864, Colonel John Chivington, a
Methodist minister, led the attack on a Cheyenne and Arapaho encampment along
the banks of Sand Creek. At least 165
were killed, mostly women, children and the elderly.
In 1996, The
United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body,
expressed regret for the Sand Creek Massacre and issued an apology for the "actions
of a prominent Methodist." The donation
to the Sand Creek Massacre Learning Center was authorized in 2008.
is only a single step in a very complex and emotional journey for our church,"
said Sidorak. "We have played an
unfortunate role in history in regards to Native Americans and our recognition
of our involvement is long overdue."
phase of the Learning Center has begun through combined funding support. The United Methodist donation will go towards
research materials as well as tools needed to set up "virtual" connections
between the center and other institutions, including United Methodist-related
Iliff School of Theology, tribal colleges in Oklahoma, Montana and Wyoming, and
the extensive archives, libraries, and museums that house the Sand Creek
Massacre research materials.
"One of Sand
Creek's many legacies is its importance to remind us of the consequences of
cultural, political and ideological conflicts that continue to plague the world
today," said Alexa Roberts, superintendent of the Sand Creek Massacre National
Historic Site. "The Learning Center will enable descendants, visitors and
researchers to study the causes and consequences of this tragedy and its relevance
to contemporary events in the hope of preventing similar occurrences in
the future. "
Methodist Church will continue in partnership with the Sand Creek Learning
Center by joining tribal representatives, research institutions, representatives
from the State of Colorado, and others on its governing board.
Methodist Church is also preparing for an Act of Repentance to Indigenous
Persons to take place at its 2012 General Conference in Tampa. The service is
intended to be an acknowledgment of wrongs done to indigenous persons and the
beginning of a process to heal relationships between indigenous communities and