Paula Palmer

Friends school photo of teachers and studentsby Paula Palmer
With spiritual support and and Intermountain Yearly Meeting, I have been traveling around the country offering workshops called, "Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples." In these workshops, as Friends and Native people together consider what “right relationship” would look like, participants realize we need to start with truth-telling. Knowing and acknowledging the truth of our shared history is the first essential step in building right relationship.

Truth-seeking led me to research the role that Quakers played during the era of the Indian boarding schools. In four months of research at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges’ Quaker history collections, I learned that Friends were instrumental in promoting and carrying out the federal government’s policy of forced assimilation of Native children. Over a 200-year period, Friends operated more than 30 Indian schools. We need to learn this history, acknowledge it, understand its consequences for Native children and their families, and consider what it asks of the Religious Society of Friends today.

Photo of Paula Palmer

I am seeking opportunities to present my research to Friends and begin a process of collective reflection, as a step toward building right relationship with Native peoples. My slide presentation, “The Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing our History and Ourselves,” runs one hour, and is followed by worship sharing. I hope to post a video of the talk soon, and I am developing articles for Friends Journal, Western Friend, and a Pendle Hill pamphlet.

The Toward Right Relationship ministry is full-time, deeply challenging and rewarding work, and donations to Boulder Meeting’s restricted fund are my only means of support. To learn more, please see my quarterly and annual reports and information on how to make tax-deductible donations. I’d be happy to hear from you via paulaRpalmer(at)gmail(dot)com.