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Wheaton College hosts NAIITS' 12th Annual Symposium


Last updated 5/11/2015 at 9:12pm

Wheaton College

The beautiful campus of Wheaton College is where the 12th annual NAIITS Symposium will be held, June 4-6. Students, Native leaders, and educators will come together to listen, learn, and discuss reconciliation: "the wild and the sophisticated".

WHEATON, IL-The North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) is coming to Wheaton College, Illinois, June 4-6, 2015, for their 12th annual symposium. This year's theme is "Theologies of Reconciliation: les sauvages et le sophistiqué."

The purpose of each year's symposium is to facilitate open dialogue about various aspects of Indigenous history and experience in the context of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Symposium planners hope that participants will bring together academic and practical approaches to the issues being addressed in the symposium. NAIITS put out a call for scholarly papers to be presented during the weekend. The deadline for entries was April 1, 2015. Those selected will be given 40 minutes to present their topic.

Les sauvages is a French term initially used by the Jesuits (among many others) in Les Relations, to describe the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and elsewhere. Le sophistiqué, describes what appears in those same writings-the triumphalist, self-congratulatory attitude of Euro-centric theologies and praxis. From this difficult legacy, NAIITS has chosen a path of reconciliation. Reconciliation has many facets. It begins with an acknowledgement that something went wrong between two people or two groups of people-that relationship has been severed. Usually this acknowledgement includes and, most often begins with, an apology.

In Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand apologies of sorts have been issued by churches and, in some cases, governments. 

In Canada, for example, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established, following an all-party apology in the House of Commons, June 11, 2008, to pursue two noble goals-uncovering the truth, and seeking reconciliation. In Australia on February 13, 2008, the Prime Minister moved an apology to Australian Indigenous peoples followed by a response. In the United States, on December 22, 2009, an apology to Native Americans was buried in an omnibus appropriations bill. Nothing followed. In New Zealand, no apology has been forthcoming.

Wheaton College

Blanchard Hall, the iconic landmark of this historic college just outside Chicago, plays a significant role in the lives of thousands across the decades. This symposium will bring together a cross-section of Native and non-native alike to consider what it means to reconcile with one another across cultures.

What is the nature of reconciliation? What, if anything, must precede and/or follow acknowledgment of relationship breakdown and the necessity of its restoration? What actions, if any, does the gospel call us to in order to effect reconciliation? What frames a biblical theology of reconciliation? How might an Indigenous theology of reconciliation of those who follow Jesus offer a different perspective? What might constitute such a theology? 

Key perspectives will be:

• Examining Native North American or other Indigenous peoples perspectives of the nature of reconciliation between people (individual and/or group) in the aftermath of conflict-whether violent or passive-resistant;

• The role of Indigenous or Indigenous Christian tradition in the formation of restorative experiences;

• Potential implications of an inadequate response to the circumstance of relational breech in terms of ongoing conflict and/or suspicion by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of one another;

• Implications for Indigenous peoples who are, or for those who may yet choose to become, followers of the Jesus Way

• Submissions on topics that relate clearly to the overall theme will also be considered.


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