Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Popular pastor to get new pulpit

Relevant excerpts and comments below. First off, I gotta say what a great name "Muckleshoot" is!

Popular pastor to get new pulpit

MIKE ARCHBOLD; The News Tribune
Published: September 17th, 2007 01:00 AM

When Kenneth Williams returned to the Muckleshoot Reservation as a pastor 13 years ago, his first church was held in his yard and his first pew was a downed tree....

Williams’ days of itinerant preaching will soon be gone. He expects to conduct his first service in a new $3.4 million Pentecostal church by June.

The Muckleshoot Tribal Council is picking up the tab for the 22,000-square-foot church, which will include a full-size gymnasium and seating for up to 400 people....

The Muckleshoots’ considerable casino dollars are mostly known for subsidizing government, health care, social services, education and natural resources management on the Enumclaw plateau. But they also are spent on spiritual needs.

Church-state separation is not a political concept in Indian country, explained Charlotte Williams, chairwoman of the Muckleshoot Tribal Council, which authorized the expenditure. She is Pastor Williams’ wife but didn’t vote on the church project.

Now this is idiotic hangups about church-state separation in Indian country! Church needs some money, hey, no problem, it's part of the the community, so why not? Ah, the common sense of it all.

The council a few years ago also financed a new building for the Indian Shaker Church. The historic St. Claire Catholic Church has also received money from the tribe, for maintenance and restoration.

They are the only three churches on Muckleshoot land, although the old “smokehouse” tradition survives as well.


Spirituality is deeply intertwined in tribal life among the Muckleshoots and other Northwest Indian tribes, Charlotte Williams said. A committee comprised of tribal members advises the Tribal Council on the spiritual needs of the tribe.

When the Muckleshoots began making money with bingo and the casino, the council put aside $10,000 a year for each of the churches. It has only grown from there.

Stanley Speaks, director of the Northwest Regional Office of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Portland, said many tribes support church activities within their reservations, which he called a good investment.

What? And not Planned Parenthood instead? An outrage!!!!

But he noted that many do not have the revenues that the Muckleshoots do.

“Most churches that tribes build don’t cost that much,” Speaks said.

Pastor Williams said 100 people regularly attend services at the Pentecostal Church. He said he’s thankful to the Tribal Council for its assistance with the new facility.

“Everyone is happy,” he said, with his shock of white hair and ever-present smile. “We were happy when the tribe built the new Shaker Church, too.”


The Indian Shaker Church has been a mainstay on the Muckleshoot Reservation since 1913, according to local historian Stan Flewelling. He wrote about Auburn-area churches in the White River Valley Museum’s newsletter in 2002.

A blend of both Native American and Christian beliefs, the Indian Shaker movement gained many adherents around the Pacific Northwest as word spread in the late 1800s.

Catholicism on the reservation has proven less durable over time.

This is sadly typical of our age...religio depopulata

Mary Basteyns, who is close to 90 years old and a member of the spiritual committee, represents St. Claire Indian Mission Chapel, which was constructed on reservation land in 1894. She said it was built by her grandfather, Gilbert Courville.

Used regularly until the 1930s, it was moved to the new Federal Way Shopping Center in the 1950s as a tourist attraction. The tribe returned it to the reservation some 30 years later.

The little white church with the tall steeple was deteriorating when the tribe stepped in and helped restore it. It has a new cedar shingle roof and new floor inside.

Basteyns is grateful for the efforts, though the church isn’t used for services anymore. The priest who used to come by once a month stopped when the congregation got down to just a few people, she said.

We've had church closings in the inner city, which are bad enough. But on a reservation--which are in remote places--it could well be fatal to Catholicism in that tribe. Priests are overtaxed and from a purely human level it's easy to understand how they might cut their losses if no one is attending Mass. On a purely human level. On a divine level, even one person receiving the sacraments in those pews is worth the trip. But I'm not judging the priest or the bishop...they have tough decisions to make. But I think this underscores the need for modern missionaries--possibly even a specific order who will be able to move into reservations and keep Catholic traditions alive

Today many Muckleshoot people also still follow the old beliefs that held sway before the Christian missionaries arrived, according to Flewelling. During the winter season, they dance to honor and display their spirit guardians.

It is often called the smokehouse religion because dancers traditionally perform in a longhouse lit by fire and filled with smoke.


The rest of the article is about the Pentecostal Church.

No comments: