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An Indigenous Therapeutic

In the Fall of 2018 I visited Palestine-Israel. Our Palestinian tour guide was also an Israeli citizen. He was one of only 60 officially recognized Palestinian guides. This is in contrast with the 5,000 plus Jewish tour guides. This discrepancy tells you who’s story gets told.

As we journeyed throughout the West Bank we stopped to visit with Palestinians and heard their stories. We heard of displacement, arrests in the middle of the night, even of children and teenagers. We heard of blackouts and the limited access to water, the lack of sanitation services, and many other kinds of indignities.

The Israeli settlements on the hilltops in the West Bank contrasted with the Palestinian villages in the valleys. The hilltops are lush and green with manicured trees and gardens, surrounded by walls and armed guard towers. Electricity and water run 24 hours a day. The villages, by contrast, are dry with dusty roads and a tumble of houses and streets filled with people, vehicles and animals. Water is precious and must be pumped early in the morning to roof top reservoirs before the taps are shut off for the day.

Finally near the end of our time together the Israeli homeowner asked us, “What is your vision of peace?”

One day our Canadian “Come and See” tour group visited an Israeli in his lush home in the West Bank. He was a gracious man and had a comfortable place for the dozen of us to sit in his living room. He had refreshments and tasty snacks for us all. We were prepared to hear his Israeli side of the story.

Instead of him telling us his story he asked our group, “What do you want to talk about? What questions do you have for me?” One pastor from our group mentioned something a Palestinian shared about the West Bank and then called the Israeli a settler. Immediately the Israeli homeowner said, “I object to you calling me a settler. I am an Israeli in the land of Israel!”

This was the beginning of an hour of back and forth from our group and the Israeli homeowner. One of our group mentioned a story from our time among Palestinians and the Israeli man would offer a counter narrative. The situation in Israel Palestine is complicated and this conversation was a reminder of that. Finally near the end of our time together the Israeli homeowner asked us, “What is your vision of peace?”

I then described the three rows of beads between our vessels and how this described how we would treat each other.

I hadn’t spoken yet this whole hour and I knew this was my chance. I then told the story of the Two Row Wampum belt and our first treaty relationship with the Dutch in 1613 near Albany, NY. I didn’t have my wampum belt with me but I described it. I told him and our group that the belt represented the common river of life and that each of our people traveled this river in our own water vessel of state.

I then described the three rows of beads between our vessels and how this described how we would treat each other. I said the first row represented the desire for friendship. The second row represented the idea that when we respect each other we can be fully ourselves in our relationship. The third row represented the strength that thinking in this way about each other brings to our relationship. I said, “That is my vision of peace.”

Just then our tour guide came in and said it was time for us to leave. Our Israeli host shook hands with us when we left. When he got to me he warmly grabbed my hand with both of his hands and said, “I like listening to you.” It was a shame we did not start our conversation that day with the story of the Two Row Wampum. Perhaps we could have had an hour of sharing that could have fostered a peace dialogue.


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