School Life
Morning Meeting

A Call to Kinship

Rev. Bradley Hauff brings message of generosity, fellowship and environmental stewardship to Native American Heritage Month Chapel
In celebration and acknowledgement of November as Native American Heritage Month in the US, Trinity welcomed to Chapel on Monday, November 6 the Rev. Dr. Bradley Hauff, the Presiding Bishop’s Missioner for Indigenous Ministries for the Episcopal Church.
Hauff led the assembled students through an Episcopal liturgy that included prayers from Native American churches and a scripture reading from the Book of Ruth. “Forgive us for the colonialism that stains our past,” he said in his opening prayer. “Heal us of this history. Remind us that none of us were discovered, since none of us were lost, but that we are all gathered within the sacred circle of your community… Call us to kinship.”
Rev. Hauff began his homily by sharing some meaningful phrases in his native Lakota language. He said that Lakota people greet one another with the words hau mitakuyepi, which means “hello relatives,” and they conclude their prayers with the phrase mitakuye oyasin, which means “all my relatives.”
“To the Lakota, as with virtually all Indigenous people, everything exists in a state of relationship: people, animals, fish, bird, insects… the wind, mountains, stars and planets of the Cosmos,” he said. “To Indigenous people, the Universe is a living being, alive and well… the Earth and Cosmos our relatives. They are not possessions to exploit.”
Recalling the infamous “Trail of Tears,” Hauff noted that most of the Indigenous tribes in the Southeastern US were relocated to Oklahoma in the 1800s. “Richmond was home to more than 20 tribes, such as the Powhatan and Chickahominy, who lived here for thousands of years. This was their home… It is not right to take someone else’s home,” he said. “What our Creator, the Great Spirit, calls upon us to do is share. Be generous. There is plenty to go around. No one has to, or should be, without a home.”
“It’s important that we are reminded that the Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth,” he said, reiterating that all people are related to each other and to all of creation. “Honor the Earth by taking care of the Earth. If we take care of the Earth, the Earth will take care of us.”
Following the Chapel, students in Brian Griffen’s religion classes gathered in the outdoor amphitheater for an “in-house field trip” guided by Rev. Hauff. Students split into small groups, each researching one of the 11 state-recognized Indian tribes in Virginia.
Rev. Hauff then demonstrated a traditional “smudging ceremony,” braiding and burning sweetgrass and fanning it with an eagle feather. Similar to the way incense is used in some Christian worship, Rev. Hauff described the smudging as “symbolizing clarifying people, purifying them, and our prayers rising up to the heavens.” 
“One of the things that make sweetgrass unique and holy is that it will only flourish if it is harvested. If you do nothing with it, it will disappear, but if you harvest and make use of it, it will grow and expand,” he said, drawing a parallel lesson to humanity. “Are we not like sweetgrass? Do we flourish if people appreciate and don't ignore us? Show love to us, and we flourish.” 
As a religion teacher and school chaplain, Griffen was moved by the connections that Rev. Hauff made with students’ prior learning about world religions. “I thought it was very inspirational and informative when he compared and contrasted his Indigenous beliefs with his own Episcopal identity,” said Griffen. “Rev. Hauff really appreciated the curiosity, seriousness and empathy of our students. He was very impressed with the type of learners that we are developing at Trinity.”

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