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Continuing our conversation about Native American messengers of God and the indigenous Faiths they brought, let’s take a look at how the Baha’i teachings answer the question, “Were Messengers of God sent to North America?” Here’s Abdu’l-Baha’s response to that important question:
Undoubtedly, in those regions, the Call of God must have been raised in ancient times, but it hath been forgotten now.
Chris: Paula, do you agree that, here, Abdu’l-Baha takes a definitive position on this question, not only by answering in the affirmative, but emphatically by using the intensifying adverb, “undoubtedly”?
Paula: First, I would like to comment on the “Call of God” which “hath been forgotten now.” This is another of those points I had to work on. My immediate response was we Native Americans have not forgotten the call of God, or our messengers of God. In working through this I came to the realization that the statement “it hath been forgotten now” is not just in reference to Native Americans—it is a universal statement for all of humanity:
… the Manifestations of His Divine glory and the Day Springs of eternal holiness have been sent down from time immemorial, and been commissioned to summon mankind to the one true God. That the names of some of them are forgotten and the records of their lives lost is to be attributed to the disturbances and changes that have overtaken the world. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 174.
After I read this passage from the Baha’i writings and realized we were not singly being pointed out, this lost its emotional hold on me. I then realized I myself did not know the name of the Manifestation or the sacred Message, prior to White Buffalo Calf Woman. I only knew some of the previous Indigenous Manifestations of God and Messages through ceremonies and songs.
But yes, in Abdu’l-Baha’s answer the use of the adverb, “undoubtedly” strikes me as a definitive position. And there is huge importance in this, toward bringing about recognition of our Native Messengers of God. This is a much-needed step toward healing the past.
The history of religious and spiritual persecution of Native Americans is entrenched in murder, massacre and forced assimilation. Most people don’t realize that, while the rest of the population of the United States enjoyed religious freedom, Native Americans were denied this basic right. It was not until 1978 that we received a partial freedom of religion. This has created a wound far deeper than most can imagine, and denying our Sacred Messengers makes this wound even deeper.
Chris: So is it your understanding that Abdu’l-Baha states messengers of God were sent to Native Americans, Native Canadians and Native Mexicans (long before there were any borders separating the United States, Canada and Mexico) and, most likely, to the indigenous peoples of the Americas (including Central and South America) as well?
Paula: I find it illogical to think or believe otherwise.
Chris: Here’s my last question: Since the indigenous peoples of the Americas have long believed that the Great Spirit, down through the centuries, has sent wisdom teachers to guide them, then why is this statement by Abdu’l-Baha so significant to you, as a Cherokee, Shawnee, Delaware, Seneca and Lakota Baha’i?
Paula: I am stunned and hurt by how frequently people have told me they cannot accept the fact that Native peoples had messengers/manifestations of God. This kind of thinking perpetuates the antiquated, racist idea of Native people as soulless heathens in need of salvation. This to me represents an unconscious sense of superiority. How many years will it take to arrive at the equality of the human race and unity in diversity? Even without Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to Amir Khan, many other Baha’i writings tell us God has sent messengers to all people. So let’s close with those beautiful quotes:
Unto the cities of all nations He hath sent His Messengers. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 145.
©2014 by Christopher Buck.