400 Years Later, A Church Apologizes For Abusing Native Americans

West End Collegiate Church, New York City

On Native American Heritage Day, the Collegiate Church officially apologized for massacring and displacing Native Americans 400 years ago.

"We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people, and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes, and great love for this land," the Reverend Robert Chase told members of the Lenape Tribe. "With pain, we the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events."

The apology was offered in front of the Museum of the American Indian in lower Manhattan, where Dutch colonizers took up residence in Native lands near what is now Wall Street. The Collegiate Church was a fundamental part of spiritual life in the new colony, whose members subsequently expanded their territorial control and subdued the Native population by force.

During the ceremony Native music was featured, children exchanged gifts, and Reverend Chase embraced Ronald Holloway, Chairman of the Sand Hill Band of Lenape. "After 400 years, when someone says 'I'm sorry,' you say, 'Really?' " Holloway said. "There was some kind of uneasiness. But then you've got to accept someone's sincere apology; they said, 'We did it.' We ran you off, we killed you.'

The church plans to sponsor educational activities and exhibits to teach children history - including Native views on preserving the purity of the land taken over by the Dutch colonists.

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R. Mullen - November 30, 2009 4:34 PM

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GG - November 30, 2009 4:39 PM

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Paul Benedict - December 1, 2009 4:07 PM

The Collegiate Church has stepped up to the plate better than any other church in American history. We hope it gets America onto its more righteous path. Let's just be thankful that our European ancestors were blessed to arrive in America, not to steal every square foot. Our ancestors were not entirely evil, nor were they entirely honest. Many thanks to the Lenape people for taking seriously the apology made by the Collegiate Church. Change is coming to America!

Lynn James-Camara - September 30, 2010 9:45 AM

I want to know who is going go appologize to the elders in the Pacific Northwest that the missionaries tortured. Before the ICWA Act?

Lynn James-Camara - September 30, 2010 10:25 AM

I want to know who is going go appologize to the elders in the Pacific Northwest that the missionaries tortured. Before the ICWA Act?

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