- Walking Precariously
It was my father who had Native heritage. In a matrilineal tribal society, I suppose I would not be considered Indian. I do not speak the Cherokee language. I do not live in a Native community. I am not traditional. I am not an activist. But the main difference is, I am Christian.
My Cherokee great-grandfather left Indian Territory in 1861 after an argument. He fled to Meigs County in eastern Tennessee (where many Cherokee on the removal trail had come from) and joined the Fourth Cavalry, Union Army. He tried to return to Indian Territory after the Civil War, but word got out, and he settled in northern Arkansas. He was not in IT when the Dawes Commission took roll. Therefore, I am not enrolled. I have heard criticism of my Native claim. In the end, that may be a bigger disenfranchisement from Nativism than Christianity.
In December 2013 the American Studies Association voted to support Palestine in the academic field. Israeli academic institutions were to be boycotted. naisa voted to follow. It is a difficult call for me. In the end, maybe it depends on who your God is. If you are a Christian, it is Yahweh who tells his story in the Old and New Testaments, and you are on the side of Israel, though the Jews didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah when he appeared, but they remain God’s focus, nonetheless. The God I believe, anyway.
In the New Testament, the Gentiles were admitted into the kingdom because the Jews refused to believe Jesus was God’s son, though the Jews one day will be reunited, even if they wait until the second coming to recognize the Messiah they didn’t know the first time he came to them as a lowly baby in the manger. But they were looking for something other than that.
For evangelical Christians, Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of [End Page 101] his people is the crux of the Christian faith. The concept presents hegemony. The main sector is colonialism. I am removed from the self if I am to have my identity as a Christian. I am a Christian before I am myself. It is everything most people struggle against.
I understand naisa’s boycott. I know it can be said that military aggression against the Native American has its roots in the Old Testament. This is Genesis 12:1–3 (Revised Standard Version): “Now the Lord said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all families of the earth shall bless themselves.”
Thus, Abraham and his progeny entered the promised land. But in a time of famine, three generations later (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and his eleven brothers), the Hebrews went to Egypt for food, where they were taken into slavery for four hundred years until Moses led them out of bondage to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Finally, they came to the promised land, where, once again, the promise was given. “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I give unto you, as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory” (Joshua 1:3–4, rsv).
When taking the land, they were told to kill the men, but the women, children, and the herds and flocks that belonged to them would be spoils (Deuteronomy 20:13–14). But in other places the message is different—even the women and children were to be killed (Judges 21:10). This is Deuteronomy 20:16–18: “But of the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you...