Daily Connector | Part V: Reparations Essay | Joel Copeland


(This link was Joel's Sunday presentation, with Joel reading the essay below).


Thoughts on repent and repair

We acknowledge we are gathering on land where Miami, Osage, Shawnee, and other Indigenous peoples have lived and labored, fought, and loved.

I walk this land for a couple of hours every day.

Since joining the reparations group at CMC I have begun to connect more deeply with this land and all that is here and what, more specifically who, is not here. I’ve begun to repent.

These stones were brought to this land about 15,000 years ago. Pushed and carried here by glaciers from somewhere to the north and dropped here as the ice receded.

People came to this land about 15,000 years ago also. They were part of a huge, many millennia long migration, from Africa, through Asia to the Americas.

15,000 years. That’s more than 60,000 generations. Over 5 million days.

If these stones could speak, if we could hear, what would we hear?

Maybe 5 million days and nights of children playing, old people singing, telling stories, the tap tap of flint being shaped into points and tools, the thrum of the bowstring, sighs and cries, laughter and tears, the sounds of life. Five million days full of the sounds of life. All gone...all silent

A little over 300 years ago Europeans appeared here, part of a great inexorable east to west migration. By looking at their birthplaces and place of death I can trace back four generations of my own family moving from farm to farm, homestead to homestead always moving west across the continent. Every bit of the land that they farmed or logged or hunted on was taken from the original people. The original people were pushed out, removed, exterminated, made gone. For those of us of European heritage, our forebears did it. Directly or indirectly, they did it.

They benefited from the made gone people’s absence. We benefit too. I benefit. I benefit not only from generations of privilege and freedom but from the actual land on which I live.  I live now no more than 200 yards from an Adena burial mound. At the end of my street, we found a spot at an overlook where the ground was littered with flint flakes and nearby a complete, perfect arrow head. It was clearly a workshop where flint was shaped. This land was their land


I mean repent not in the sense of doing penance or of feeling regret although there is probably room for some of that. I mean it in the Greek sense of having a change of mind and heart, a reorientation. For me to repent is to stay connected to this land, to learn whatever I can about the original people and to connect with their descendants where possible.


We live with two opposing thoughts...

Nothing we can do, no amount of money is enough.

Anything we can do, any amount of money is a start.


For me, all I can say is let’s get started.