The rights of Indigenous People and the Rights of Mother Earth

Dianna Suarez, Michelle Montgomery, Guarionex Delgado, and Sharon Delgado                         for Earth Justice Ministries

Published in the Union of April 24, 2021

On April 22, 2021, we here at Earth Justice Ministries observe and celebrate the 51st anniversary of the first Earth Day while the shadows and legacy of racism, white nationalism, and white supremacy loom over the United States of America. We reflect on how humankind is witnessing the painful consequences of our collective behavior on the living planet that we call Earth. We face this reality and acknowledge the harm we have done.  We accept responsibility to deal with present day ecological and environmental challenges and emergencies by making amends through restoration, reparation, and restitution for our wrongs and those of the many who came before us.

On this occasion, we affirm the rights of Mother Earth and the rights of Indigenous people, and human rights as integrally connected and essential for transitioning to ways of living in harmony with the natural world.

We humans are part of the interconnected community of life, yet often we remain mired in ways of thinking and behaving that are selfish and destructive, even self-destructive, when considered from the perspective of the larger whole. We are aware of past environmental and ecological harm we human beings and our institutions have caused as well as the continuing and escalating harm we do.

Water, land, and air are being polluted by our exploitive and extractive practices, trash, hazardous waste, and the burning of fossil fuels. Ecosystems are being destroyed and forests are dying because of human induced climate change and drought as well as being cut down to satisfy the desires of the consumer culture that dominates the Earth.

Ignorance, denial, and biases make it difficult to address the systemic injustice and destructiveness affecting the human family and much of life on Earth. They also make it difficult to respond effectively to the existential and spiritual threats to humans, Mother Earth, her creatures, and natural systems, especially those which are most vulnerable. Our human and non-human relations are all being adversely affected by our lack of respect, and mental and spiritual disconnection from the web of life. Many species are rapidly becoming extinct.  

Around the world, Indigenous peoples are rising to today’s challenges, taking the lead on varied struggles, insisting that “water is life,” pointing to ancient worldviews and values that inform ways of living that have sustained humans and other forms of life for thousands of years.

But collective action by all of us is required to bring about a just transition to a livable future. Such action must be grounded in evidence-based science and must challenge the consumer culture’s worldview and values, which are insufficient for bringing about the transformation that is required. We must also recognize, honor, and renew our spiritual and emotional connections to the whole community of life.

In this region, these include the polluting impacts of legacy mining and the damming of rivers. Locally, we seek to prevent further degradation of the environment by joining together, supporting, and collaborating with others who are actively opposing the reopening of the Idaho Maryland Mine by the Rise Gold Corporation and the damming of Bear River by the Nevada Irrigation District. We also support removal of obstacles that prevent salmon from accessing headwaters where they spawn and die contributing their bodies as nourishment to the land and continuing and benefitting the cycle of life.

We recognize that we, in the Americas, live on land stolen from its native people through violence and genocide. We call on nations and governments to honor treaties and restore the land to the descendants of its original people. We support and call for federal recognition of the Nisenan people, who are indigenous to this region, fully understanding that environmental and ecological wellbeing and the rights of Indigenous people are intertwined.

We ask that Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church admit the harms caused by the papal bulls “Dum Diversas” issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1452, known as the Doctrine of Discovery, and “Inter Caetera” issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493,  which authorized Spain and Portugal to colonize, convert, and enslave the Native peoples of the Americas as subjects.  We ask that Pope Francis rescind them and disavow their moral and ethical legitimacy.

On this Earth Day, we once again affirm our commitments to the well-being and restoration of Earth, her natural systems, the community of life, and humanity. And once again, we urge universal adoption of the Rights of Mother Earth and the Rights of Indigenous people.  Finally, we affirm the need to confront and heal the legacy of racism and violence that threatens to undo the hope and promise of democracy and peace for our hurt and hurting world.



Earth Day Prayer

Earth Day Prayer

Michelle Montgomery

Dear Mother Earth,

On Earth Day, we humbly stand before you asking for your forgiveness for our selfish actions. We, your children have neglected you, damaged your beautiful Earth, and have been creating more problems for any Mother to bear.

We stand before you now as the hours are becoming close to being too late to take back the harm that we have done from not taking time to honor you the way that we should.

Dear Mother, for this, and so much more, we ask for your humble loving kindness, mercy, and for your grace.

Our rivers, oceans, waters, and our air is being polluted by Humans.  Our trash is not handled properly in the proper removal of trash, recycling, and other hazardous materials. The use of oil for transportation in automobiles further pollutes the environment.

Your 2-Legged, 4-Legged, Winged ones, and Crawlers are all being affected by the disrespect, and disharmony of the human species.

The Animal species (especially our Wolves, Birds, and Bears), and so many of your creatures are becoming extinct in rapid fashion.

The Trees who were once great in number are being chopped down for selfish greed in forests across the globe, and causing harm as we have been destroying the Ecosystem, which previously provided so many minerals, and plant medicine to heal the planet. Sadly, some of your Children only think of the profits they will make, and fail to see the errors in their harmful ways.

We must  face the reality of our present of The Earth that is losing a battle that we are far behind in acknowledging the error in our ways.  We face the continuous destruction of Climate Change, and which will ultimately cause the end of our entire species to die.

This is an emergency wake up call to those who have been tasked to be Earth Stewards. We have a responsibility to make amends for the wrongs of so many who came before us, and who are no longer here to deal with the present day emergency challenges.

Please help us beloved Mother to make those wrongs, rights. Use our love, light, wisdom, and humility to compost that which is no longer needed into something that will be everlasting, in order to transform our planet.

May we be guided through your song of truth, justice, love, compassion, and make our Earth green, and strong again.

To whom much is given, much will be required. Luke 12:48




Note:  To sign onto this statement,  Contact Us with the words “Sign On” in the subject line. Be sure to include your name and how you would like to be identified.

We, the undersigned leaders and participants in Christian congregations in Western Nevada County, based on our common desire to be followers of Jesus and his teachings, join together in witnessing to the world that we reject the separateness and exclusivity that manifest so harmfully in racism. Instead, we commit to working towards uniting and reconciling with all our brothers and sisters, all God’s children, across all barriers, and to that end:

We turn away from our desire to believe that racism only exists in other times, other places, or in other people.  We embrace examining honestly how racism unconsciously conditions our attitudes and blinds us to the injustice built into systems we accept, depend on, and even revere.

We turn away from our desire to move too quickly to an easy reconciliation that abandons justice for the sake of avoiding conflict. We embrace seeking true repair and healing while remaining insistent about the demands of justice.

We turn away from our ignorance of the ways many of our churches have contributed to the very theology and ideologies of inequality based on race and the unequal value of different classifications of human beings. We embrace working to realistically face the historic harms done by our Christian tradition, as well as to heed the prophetic voices and actions of those in our same traditions who have called for justice and equality, even when the dominant direction was opposite.

We turn away from our silence when injustice, including racism, is evident in our community, nation, and world—when bold and prophetic voices are required, but our fear of dissension or loss of support muffles our conscience.  We embrace recognizing that silence about injustice is to be complicit in perpetuating it, and therefore challenge ourselves to speak out effectively and compassionately for healing.

We turn away from our tendency to let our acts of charity on behalf of our churches substitute or suffice, when our faith demands more—advocacy and systemic change. We embrace strengthening our acts of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and other traditions of kindness towards those in need, while also using those experiences to propel us to action in our social and political life to change the systems that perpetuate inequity, including racism.

We turn away from our contentedness to speak our confessions, prayers, and proclamations of “justice and release from oppression” only within the walls of our houses of worship, while avoiding the risk of saying them in public. We embrace “speaking truth to power”, recognizing we are part of that power and privilege. We have responsibility to proclaim to society that which we pray for in church.


Rev. Seth Kellerman,  Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Pastor Bill Wong, Peace Lutheran Church

Pastor David Niu, Nevada City United Methodist Church

Rev. Cathy Love, Grass Valley United Methodist Church

Rev. Suzanne Calhoun, Sierra Pines United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Judson O. Gears, The United Methodist Church

Rev. Kate O’Leary, United Methodist Church

Rev. Don Baldwin, United Methodist Church

Rev. George Carter , United Methodist Church

Rev. Sharon Delgado, United Methodist Church,  Earth Justice Ministries

Rev. Jerry Farrell, Unity Minister

Rev. Patricia Spooner     United Methodist Church

Brian Fry, Board Member, Earth Justice Ministries

Guarionex Delgado,  President, Earth Justice Ministries

Daryl Grigsby,   Author , In Their Footsteps: Inspirational Reflection on Black History

Becky Gillespie,  Advisor, Earth Justice Ministries

Note: This statement of faith regarding systemic racism is the outgrowth of discussions among local Christians from different denominations who are convinced that the teachings and example of Christ call us and other Christians to learn deeply about the origins of racism in our institutional histories and the legacy of racism in our present practices.

We acknowledge and value our kinship with people of other faith traditions, spiritual practices, and secular philosophies, many of whom have preceded us in awareness and actions to heal from racism, including people in our community who have been much more visible than Christian churches have so far. This statement of faith is an initial invitation to those who identify as Christians or as followers of Christ to join with others in taking a public stand.

Those who have signed on, so far, are few in number, but this is a start. Anyone who wishes to sign on, Contact Us with the words “Sign On” in the subject line, your name and how you would like to be identified. One can sign on as clergy, laity, or as individuals. You can identify with a particular denomination or congregation or not, as you feel appropriate. You might choose different wording or a different perspective. You might wish to make your own statement. You might wish to have it be more inclusive of other faiths and spiritual traditions. We welcome dialog.



Daryl Grigsby: White America gave Trump the platform to lead the charge

Published in the Grass Valley Union on January 12, 2021. Find it here.

The shame of the assault on the Capitol of the United States is the shame of white America.

By white America, I do not mean every white person in the United States. I do, however, mean the majority of white Americans.

Majority means the more than half of whites who voted in this last election. According to the Pew Research Center, 57% of the whites who voted, voted for Donald Trump. That is almost 6 of every 10 white voters.

Once in the confines of the Christian church, of which I am an embarrassed member, the white support increases. According to surveys and exit polls, 78% of white evangelicals, 53% of white Catholics, and 52% of white non-evangelical Protestants supported him for a second term. That despite his racist rhetoric and actions, denial of a deadly pandemic, bullying and lies, and overt calls for extreme nationalism and white supremacy.

And now we see whites running for the exits, expressing dismay and shock and surprise at the flag-waving mob that took over the Capitol.

What happened on Jan. 6 was not an aberration. It is what Trump has been projecting, proclaiming and calling for in the last several months — and for anyone who listened carefully -—the last four years.

The election of 2020 should not have been close, and in fact, would not have been close, were it not for the majority of white American voters. White American voters, especially those of the Christian faith, bear direct responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6, because their votes enabled, empowered, and emboldened him to act as a mob instigator.

What if the election was not even close? What if whites — en masse — abandoned his divisive hateful political program? He would have been isolated and left without any grounds to claim the election was stolen. His only supporters would have been exposed as the mob that assaulted our democracy.

White America, not all, but most, gave him the power and platform to lead the charge against all we allegedly hold sacred in this country.

Let me again make distinction: This is not about all whites. This is about those who I believe — by their votes, their prayers (without corresponding deeds for the common good), their actions, or their silence — enabled an obvious deranged bully and self-centered racist to act in the manner he did.

You cannot swim in the sewers without wearing the stench. Were most white people assaulting the Capitol? No. Did most white voters support the one who instigated the mob — that very day — to “take back our country”? Yes.

Eddie Glaude, author of “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own,” makes the distinction between “white people and humans who happen to be white.“

I make that same distinction, for I firmly believe that most white Americas are blinded by the privilege of their color and thus are unaware that being white supersedes being human or being Christian.

Those who are human first, a significant minority, live with integrity, compassion and values. They in fact our hold our nation together with their courageous work for justice.

The majority of whites did not storm the Capitol — but they did aid and abet their leader. That you cannot deny, refute or explain away.

It is way past time for white America, those not on the racist terrorist fringe — but those with integrity and conscience — to face the facts of their complicity and do something concrete about it. Anything less is empty words and crocodile tears which lead not to change but more of the same. When is enough enough!?

If white Americans, that majority who voted for Trump, cannot see their role in and relationship to the assault on the Capitol and take the corresponding and necessary corrective actions, then our nation has a long, painful road ahead.

Amazingly, if it were up to the majority of white voters, the majority of white Christians, Trump would be beginning another four years. Whenever I am in a group of white people, that reality disturbs me.

I am reading comments that “This is not America.’” As an African-American who has lived through eight different decades, one whose great-grandfather was a slave (and a child by rape of a slave woman by the slave master), I’m here to proclaim this is America. More specifically, this is white America.

As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “by their fruits you shall know them.” Again, when is enough enough?

Daryl Grigsby lives in Nevada City.