I imagine that many school-aged children look upon Labor Day with mixed emotions—saying goodbye to summer vacation and hello to a new school year. I wouldn't be surprised if some start counting the days until their first school holiday and, for most, that would be Columbus Day. Throughout its history, this holiday has generated controversy, and the image of Christopher Columbus as a hero has been called into question. As a result, alternatives to the holiday have been proposed. Indigenous Peoples' Day is now celebrated in several states.
How one may choose to look upon this holiday, it is certainly that individual's decision according to their personal perspective. I must admit that my 40 years living among the Native American people and sharing their cultural values has become part of who I am. Most meaningful for me is how these values align so beautifully with the Pope Francis’ Laudato Sí encyclical. We know that the key idea of the encyclical is that Earth is our common home—people and planet are part of one family. We're urged to protect God's creation for future generations. Laudato Sí connects deeply with indigenous spirituality as well as having a deep connection with the environment and Mother Earth.
I know that several powerful elements of the indigenous value system hold great importance for so many of us:
- Human beings are the most dependent beings in creation
- Everything is sacred and spiritual
- We are all related.
Yes, Indigenous Peoples' Day will always be a very significant day of celebration for me because of all that it represents. May it be so for you!
– Sister Christine Ferrar, OP
Sister Christine recently returned to New York
after 40 years of ministry in Montana.