In Solidarity: Wear Orange October 6th

By Ken Krimmel

I’m Wearing Orange, Are You Wearing Orange?

An Invitation from our West Virginia CONAM (Committee on Native American Ministries)

Why is our West Virginia Conference CONAM asking you to wear orange on October 6?

“This is a Day of Remembrance for the children who never made it back home to their loving families,” states Ragghi Rain, chairperson of the Native American International Caucus. October 6, 1879, is the day “The Carlisle Indian School,” was established in Carlisle, PA, in order to assimilate Native American children by robbing them of their Native identity.

Eventually, there would be 357 such boarding schools within the United States, according to an article written by Jenna Kunze in Native News Online, June 17, 2021. And Ragghi Rain reminds us that several of these boarding schools, some twelve of them, were Methodist schools. (Follow this link to learn more about the boarding schools)

We are inviting you to wear orange on October 6 to raise awareness that all of these Native American children who never made it home are our children in Christ. “We are inviting you to walk with us,” states Ragghi Rain.

And we want to ask, “How do we end the violence against our Native American brothers and sisters that still goes on today?” One example of the ongoing racism against Native Americans is the recent vandalism of the St. John United Methodist Church in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

And we want to ask, “How do we heal this deep pain that is felt by so many people who are traumatized by the discovery of our Native children’s remains?”

So, plan to wear orange, the color of the sun at its rising and setting, on October 6, and stand in solidarity with our Native relatives.

If you would like to learn more about the significance of this Day of Remembrance please visit “Justice for Our Children: Healing for Our Communities” on Facebook.

And visit the NEJNAMC website for additional resources and ideas to mark this Day of Remembrance. 

Some are making felt birds to represent the children whose lives were taken. Instructions are on the Justice for our Children: Healing for our Communities Facebook Page and shown here:

Some additional action items you may want to take:

Make a Plan for Your Event for Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Produce and Distribute the “Justice for Our Children: Healing for Our Communities” 5×7 cards. You have permission from the Native American International Caucus and the artist to print and distribute. Feel free to be creative with the image by Paige (see below). You can make t-shirts, posters, flags or whatever! You can use your local printer to make these. Come back to the Facebook page for the artwork!

• Choose a location such as your Church, Conference Center, Government Capital building, a busy city corner, on a church lawn, a park. Choose somewhere that is visible to the public. Be sure to check if you need a permit.

• Invite people who will stand in solidarity with you. Perhaps there is a Native American drum group or a singer and dancers who can be with you. Consider someone who can speak briefly on the purpose of the meeting. Invite a spiritual leader or pastor or a singer to say/sing a prayer

• Everyone wears ORANGE. It’s a strong color to draw attention to the event and to us at the NAIC it symbolizes the sun as it sets and rises. We are praying that the sun has not completely set on this concern, but new hope comes when we remember. You could make ribbon shirts/skirts.

• Have participants make little orange birds out of felt to bring to the event. (Come back to this page for the pattern) These can be hung on a tree or on a wooden stand, or be worn as pins. The birds represent the spirits of children as they take flight. Gather all the birds together and photograph them. (you can post your photos here of your gathering and of the birds with permission for us to share these in future press releases and promotions of this cause.

• Bring all the birds to your worship service later in the week so that everyone who gathers can have a special time of prayer.

• Invite the local news media to come to your event.

Learn more about the artwork from the artist, Paige McNatt.
“The school is in the background with the children’s moccasins and shorn braids being buried with the truth in the foreground. I wanted to have dark, looming clouds in the sky behind the school to convey the darkness and pain that it represents. I chose to have “justice for our children” behind a yellow, more hopeful part of the sky. On the grass, there are brown spots to show that there are many other holes just like the one in the foreground of the drawing.”
This artwork was commissioned by the Native American International Caucus of the United Methodist Church, 2021.