ELC Adult Ed: “Knowing our Neighbors”

Welcome! This site is a virtual version of a 2022 adult study completed at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Thanks for the visit and feel free to contact me with any questions!
“Knowing our Neighbors:  Unsettling History, Hopeful Future

In 2016 the ELCA repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, “as an example of the ‘improper mixing of the power of the church and the power of the sword’ (Augsburg Confession Article XXVIII), and to acknowledge and repent from this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas, which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members.”  In October of 2021, as a follow-up, our Church issued a Declaration “to American Indian and Alaska Native People” further solidifying sentiments that have been voiced within the ELCA and its predecessor bodies for generations.  What do such statements mean for us and how should we respond as members of an ELCA parish?   

This study focuses on the history of our closest Tribal Nation, the Ho-Chunk people, with an emphasis on the intersections of Christianity within their story.  One of twelve Tribes in Wisconsin that comprise “Indian Country,” their complex journey illustrates the enduring challenges First Nations people face in 2022 and beyond. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of our broader community, coupled with prayerful consideration of creative responses moving forward.  We go forth in this process within the framework of the Jesus’ commandments to love God and neighbor (Mark 12: 30-31).

Corresponding Readings/ Exhibits

Session 1:
the Ho-Chunk Story in Context

1. Creation Stories Compared

2. Doctrine of Discovery and Counterpoint

3. 1992 ELCA Social Policy Statement

4. Repudiation of Doctrine of Discovery: 2016

5. NW Synod Social Justice Statement

6.  ELCA Declaration October 11 2021

7.  Session 1 Discussion Guide

Session 2
Navigating a Changing World:  1634-1816

1. Pre-Contact History (Patty Loew)

2. Parallel Journeys: Full Timeline

3. Reference Vocabulary

4.  Warfare 1634-1814

5.  Session 2 Discussion Guide

Session 3
Treaties and the haunting Specter of Removals:  1816-1874

1. The Paradigm of Manifest Destiny

2. The Treaty of 1837

3. “Spaulding’s Funeral” (Rykken – WMH)

4. Session 3 Discussion Guide

Session 4
The Boarding School Era

1. Indigenous People and Board Schools:  A comparative Study (United Nations)

2. Canadian Residential Schools (“60 Minutes”)

3. The Merriam Report of 1928

4. Berglund Competing Kingdoms

5. TM Rykken and Boarding Schools

6.  Uyghur Boarding Schools in China (2022)
        (A modern Case Study)

7. Poupart Analysis 


Resources for Further Exploration


Selective Bibliography:  Knowing our Neighbors

Ho-Chunk History Vocabulary Reference

Parallel Journeys: Full Timeline
Viewing Ho-Chunk history within the context of U.S. History

American Indian and Alaska Native ELCA Advocacy

Racial Justices Resources: Northwest Synod of Wisconsin

Reflecting on Land Acknowledgments (Good Article!)

Doctrine of Discovery (Indigenous Values Institute)


Prayer For the Diversity of Races and Cultures

O God, you created all people in your image.
We thank you for the astonishing variety
of races and cultures in this world.
Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of friendship,
and show us your presence in those
who differ most from us,
until our knowledge of your love is made perfect
in our love for all your children;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source:  The Lutheran Book of Worship