The book’s thesis is that the non-Native treatment of First Nations peoples has hindered their development and integration in to the church. This disconnection has also caused the church to miss out on the richness that the First Nations expression of faith offers to the full body of Christ.
The proposed solution to this problem is for non-natives to recognize that in the past and even in the present, they often have patronized First Nations peoples, are critical of their cultural distinctives, and confuse differences in culture with ethical violations. In addition, repentance is needed by First Nations peoples for the anger and bitterness in their hearts toward the non-native peoples who have mistreated them.
The most helpful chapter was chapter 4, A Native Worldview. Native and “western” worldviews were contrasted by how they understand material/spiritual view of the world, by their concept of time, by their understanding of belonging, and more. This chapter aptly explains that a different practice does not mean a wrong practice. I believe that most of the value of the book is in this one chapter.
An error that was repeated in the book was the equivocation of culture and ethics. Yes, in any church we should readily accept other cultures; it is true that in the past the western church overreacted to and inappropriately rejected many First Nation expressions of music, dance, dress, and instruments. But we must not use the concept of cultural respect in order to require an uncritical acceptance of any cultural practice. For example, in the continent of India, the practice of widow burning was a cultural practice that was rightly opposed. Cultural practices should neither be uncritically accepted nor rejected, but should be held to the light of scripture. This distinction was muddy in the book.
Much of the rest of the book rehearsed wrongs done by non-natives who often broke promises, belittled natives, and in many ways mistreated them. Without a doubt these wrongs happened even in the church. A non-native needs this information to have a better understanding of First Nations peoples. However, the volume of this material included in the book was much higher than it needed to be to make the point to today’s readers.
This book offers some help to non-natives as an introduction to some of the issues that have caused misunderstandings and animosity between non-native and First Nation cultures. However, like many introductions, the conclusions are oversimplified and over generalized. If you read this book, let it be one of many to avoid distortions in your understanding of the issues.