A group of old ladies planted a flag in front of the door to St. Peter’s Basilica, formed a circle, burned incense, waved some feathers around, channeled thoughts from others into prayers (not sure how this worked), and had the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Chief Dull Knife of the Lakota Nation perform traditional dances.

AND THEY GOT KICKED OUT! Can you believe it? That really shows how oppressive the Catholic Church really is, doesn’t it?

Mona Polacca is a Hopi/Havasupai /Tewa elder working on her Ph.D at at Arizona State University. (How did I know she was working on her PH.D) She is a member of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and wrote of her recent trip to the Vatican on the Newsweek/Washington Post On Faith blog today.

Check out the self importance in this post:

Over 500 years ago, Indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere first experienced the arrival of the Europeans (Spaniards and Italians under Spanish flag). When these strange looking men stepped off their ship and set foot on Arawak Territory (initially an island later named Hispanola), the first thing they did was plant the flag of Spain and declare the land their own. This action was under the authorization of certain papal bulls issued by the Pope. The pope authorized the conversion of the “discovered” heathens to Christianity or to “overthrow” and “subjugate” them.

On July 9, 2008, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers (the “Council”) arrived in Rome, Italy to address the Vatican papal bull. We were turned away.

She’s essentially comparing her arrival at the Vatican to the arrival of Europeans. Her doctorate will not be in humility, I can guarantee that.

She says, however, she was befuddled by the ungracious response because she didn’t come to plant a “conquering” flag, but to “lay a flag of peace and conciliation on the ground of the Vatican Square in front of the door to St. Peter’s Basilica.”

Look, these folks are mad about the way Europe treated many indigenous peoples and the way the Church ignored and maybe even instigated cruelties. There have been many apologies from both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI concerning this already. In fact, just last year Pope Benedict said, “It is not possible, indeed, to forget the sufferings…inflicted by colonizers on the indigenous populations, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled on.”

I am sorry for the way many of these people were treated. There is much to regret. But this just has the feel of grandstanding, doesn’t it? So put the incense away please, gather up the feathers, and channel yourself away from the door to the Basilica so people can pray in peace. Please.