Peace, Justice, and Reparations

Preparing for the 2018 SMC Peace Lecture

A “Racial Justice & Reparations” small group from SMC collected resources to share with the congregation in preparation for this opportunity. We are also pleased to post audio files of the Sunday morning session – found here.


  • Video: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race – A short, 12-min video from Jay Smooth with a humorous and helpful analogy to invite us into conversations about race that may feel hard, scary, risky, or unnecessary. ~Rebecca Allen
  • Article: “Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement: Here’s What You’ve Missed” – This article from Seattle-based writer Ijeoma Oluo has made me to think critically about the expectations and hopes I have for engaging in antiracist work. Am I doing it just so I can feel like a good person? Am I really taking time to examine my own complicity with racism? Am I tough enough to accept and apologize when I do or say something racist? Her language is blunt, and sitting with these very good, critical questions has challenged me in a good way. ~Hannah Notess
  • Article: “How to Be Last: a Practical Theology for Privileged People” – What role do people with power and privilege have to play in the work of transformative justice? Christena Cleveland answers this question by looking closely at Jesus’ parable of the vineyard as a model. This article completely changed how I understand my place in God’s kingdom and helped free me to seek ways of participating in the work of justice without being afraid that I’m doing it wrong. ~Hannah Notess
  • Film: Reserve 101 – This striking documentary brings together a Young Chippewayan Band, Lutherans, and Mennonites and is a telling contemporary model of what can be accomplished when the Spirit is strong and the people have courage to do what is right and just. This short film (only 32 minutes) inspires us to face our fears and imagine creative ways to make reparations a reality. ~Thelma Kauffman
  • Blog: “Paying My Reparations” – A short 3-part blog series by James Mulholland, a white man. In the first post, he challenges white readers to wrestle with the concept of reparations. The second draws a comparison between racial reparations and societal benefits for veterans. The third has specific suggestions for where to begin paying reparations. ~Sarah Kraybill Burkhalter
  • Essay: “The Case for Reparations” – Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 essay in The Atlantic, reprinted in his stunning new book We Were Eight Years in Power, marshals overwhelming evidence that bank redlining, predatory loans, and other federally-backed housing policies systematically harmed African American families. Like slavery and Jim Crow before them, these racist practices weren’t mistakes of ignorance but “plunder”—deliberate methods of extracting wealth from black people. It’s been humbling to learn how the effects play out in both rich and poor neighborhoods across America. ~Jon Hiskes
  • Action: Real Rent Duwamish – This grassroots movement invites Seattle residents to pay rent to the Duwamish Tribe, whose land we inhabit. I’ve found it to be a helpful way to remain aware of the land I live on, while also providing necessary resources for the Duwamish people. ~Laura Schlabach
  • Book Chapter: “The Black Manifesto” – from Jennifer Harvey’s book, Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation. Harvey contends that the “racial reconciliation” paradigm favored by many progressive-minded white Christians has failed. Why? Because it does little if anything to change structures and policies that perpetuate unequal access to power and resources for Blacks. In Chapter 4, Harvey harkens back to the Black Manifesto proclamation delivered (disruptively and prophetically) in the middle of worship by James Forman at Riverside Church in New York City on May 4, 1969 – essentially a call for a “reparations” paradigm that rights wrongs in real, quantifiable ways. ~Ken Kraybill
  • Writings by Waziyatawin, Ph. D. – Wazi’s writing is brutal honesty paired with hope. She believes there is a possibility for settlers to participate in undoing the damages of colonization, by returning homeland to First Nations Communities, in order for those communities to restore the integrity of the landscape through traditional life-ways. ~Jonathan Neufeld
  • more coming soon…!

Meet our featured speakers:

Waziyatawin is a Dakota writer, teacher, and activist from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota.  She earned her PhD in American History from Cornell University and has held tenured positions at Arizona State University and the University of Victoria where she also served as the Indigenous Peoples Research Chair in the Indigenous Governance Program. Waziyatawin has been working for Upper Sioux’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office since 2016, serving as the THP Officer in 2016-17, conducting traditional cultural property surveying and monitoring work, and most recently, completing a major history project for her community. She is also Executive Director of the Dakota nonprofit Makoce Ikikcupi, a reparative justice project supporting Dakota reclamation of homeland. Committed to sustainability and simplicity, she is been experimenting with these concepts in her personal life. She is the author or co/editor of six volumes, including What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland (Living Justice Press, 2008) and For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook (SAR Press, 2012), edited with Michael Yellow Bird.

John Stoesz spent 30 years working in program and executive director roles for faith based agencies. These include the Dallas Peace Center, Greater Dallas Community of Churches, Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia, Mennonite Central Committee Central States and Camp Mennoscah. He now devotes much of his time to two passions: riding his recumbent tricycle and Native American justice. Minnesota is his home state and Mountain Lake is his hometown. In 2012 his family sold his grandparents farm near Mountain Lake. Since this was Dakota homeland before white settlement, he donated half the sale amount from his portion to Native groups working for land justice. Most went to Makoce Ikikcupi (Land Recovery in the Dakota language). In 2013 he pedaled his trike 2,000 miles through 40 Minnesota counties to raise awareness about Dakota land return. He continues to spend significant time on awareness raising and fundraising among white people about colonization, decolonization, solidarity and reparations. He is a member of the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition – a network of Mennonites working to undo this horrible injustice.

John, how did you get connected with Dakota land reparations in your home state of Minnesota?
I was executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee Central States region from 2005 to 2013. Part of the organization was and is the Indigenous Visioning Circle – a group seeking “to identify and resource Indigenous strength and genius while staying on the path of relationship and decolonization.”  In 2012 my family sold my grandparents’ farm in southwestern Minnesota. My share as one of the grandchildren was 13 acres. Since this was Dakota homeland prior to white invasion and settlement, my wife and I decided to contribute half the proceeds to Native groups working for land justice. The Indigenous Visioning Circle helped me identify appropriate groups – especially Makoce Ikikcupi (“Land Recovery” in the Dakota language).
Makoce Ikikcupi was an already existing organization. It was formed in 2009 from two primary sources. One source was the centuries old resistance of Dakota people to colonial injustice. The second source was the work of a Dakota scholar and activist named Waziyatawin. The catalyst was her 2008 book – What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland – particularly the chapter on land reparations. I found the right organization for me to connect – and to return money from the sale of my grandparents’ farm for Dakota land buy-back.