Collective Forgiveness in the Context of Ongoing Harms

In Marguerite La Caze (ed.), Phenomenology and Forgiveness. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 131-145 (2018)
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During the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota, USA/Turtle Island, a group of military veterans knelt in front of Oceti Sakowin Elders asking forgiveness for centuries of settler colonial military ventures in Oceti Sakowin Territory. Leonard Crow Dog forgave them and immediately demanded respect for Native Nations throughout the U.S. Lacking such respect, he said, Native people will cease paying taxes. Crow Dog’s post-forgiveness remarks speak to the political context of the military veterans’ request: They seek collective forgiveness amidst ongoing occupation and harms committed by the collective they represent. In this chapter, I examine this case study and argue that ongoing harm undermines requests for forgiveness on behalf of collectives. I look to the work of Glen Coultard, Waziyatawin, and Leanne Simpson to consider what a responsible request for collective forgiveness would entail.



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Geoffrey Adelsberg
Edgewood College

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