Native American Work Team and Resources

Upstream updated 2023

Resources, Curiosity, and Mutual Relationships

Resources, Curiosity, and Mutual Relationships

The Native American Task Force of the Southwestern Washington Synod aspires to Curate Resources, Cultivate Sacred Curiosity, and Encourage Mutual Relationships between our congregations and their Native American neighbors and siblings.

Curated Resources and Documents

Gather, develop, and maintain resources relevant to Native American culture and history within the geographical area of the Southwestern Washington Synod. Resources will be curated and made available on our website, e-newsletter, and Synod and congregational events.

Cultivating Sacred Curiosity

Support the efforts of the bishop and synodical staff to connect with native peoples in acts of repentance and reconciliation

Encourage Mutual Relationships

Raise awareness within congregations about the Native American peoples and the history of the land relevant to the places we live and serve.

The image to the left is entitled, “Upstream”, and was designed by Toni Jo Gobin, Tulalip Tribes, as the symbol of the Native American Work Team.

Our symbol depicts a salmon in a struggle to return to its spawning waters in order for there to be new life.  This symbol is a way of inviting us as Lutherans into the work of ministry with our neighbors.

Treaty image

Historical Documents and Actions

In 2016, the ELCA repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. The Doctrine of Discovery originates in 15th century papal bulls which sanctioned the brutal conquest and colonization of Non-Christians.

ELCA Repudiation Doctrine of Discovery

Here is a document on Treaties of Washington State between the United States and the Indigenous Peoples/Tribes:

Treaties of Washington State

You can view a map of Synod Congregations & Indian Treaties of Western Washington HERE.

In 2021, the ELCA formulated a follow-up document of confessions and commitments:

Declaration to American Indian Alaska Native

The commitments in this document were affirmed at the 2022 Churchwide Assembly:

“Encouraged members, congregations and synods of this church to educate themselves about Indigenous peoples, calling on the churchwide organization to work with synods and Indigenous partners to identify sources of funding for ministries for Indigenous peoples, and encouraging restorative justice that could include the return of land to the appropriate Native nations.”

Here is the ELCA guide for land acknowledgements:

ELCA Land Acknowledgement Guide

You can order a land acknowledgement plaque from the Synod's Native American Work Team designed by Kai Abrahamson for your church building by contacting Marva Janik through the synod office.

Find out what Native land your community is located on here:

Red hand

Current and On-Going Actions

Celebrate holidays and anniversaries associated with Indigenous people appropriately.

April 29 - May 5th is the National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People

Contact Rev. Linda Smith and Deacon Bonnie Sanchez through the synod office to request an education about MMIP.

June – Summer Tribal Canoe Journeys – North Western Tribes travel the ancestral highways of their cultures

The ELCA Truth and Healing Movements suggests:  Read the Truth in August 2023

Throughout the summer months, congregations, ministries, synods, and organizations are encouraged to choose a book to read together. A book written by a Native author should be selected, and time near the end of the month scheduled for the readers in your congregations, ministries, synods, and organizations to gather and discuss the book together.

The bookshop Native Reads, which is also listed on the resource page, lists only books by Native authors for your convenience.

Let us know what book your congregation and organization read together, posting a photo of your group on your social media pages with hashtags #ELCA and #TruthAndHealing.

Here are some impactful books by Native Authors recommended by members of the Native American Work Team of the SWWA Synod (Click here)

September 30 is National Day of Remembrance for US Indian Boarding School.

Learn more about Indian Boarding Schools at the National Native American Healing Coalition. You can also join, donate and advocate here

Email the Synod Office for a packet that includes resources and a template to create an orange commemorative banner for your church.

Contact Rev. Linda Smith and Deacon Bonnie Sanchez or Rev. Pam Hunter to request education materials or speakers about US Indian Boarding Schools.

October 10 is Indigenous Peoples Day

November is Native American Heritage Month

Plan a Native American Sunday during this or another time as appropriate in your setting.

Churchwide Assembly 2022 Native Worship Resource:

Contact the Synod Office for further worship resources.

December – The Treaty of Medicine Creek was signed on December 26, 1854.

NAWT Totel Pole

Join the Native American Work Team

Would you like to participate in the work of the Native American Work Team? We are always grateful for new members!

Contact Rev. Seth Novak through the Synod Office with your questions and comments. Thank you!

The Totem Pole in this photo was crafted by the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation 2021, stopping in Port Angeles, WA on its way to Washington DC calling on the federal government to protect sacred lands and waters of Indigenous people. Photo courtesy of Kristin Luana Baumann.