Would you like to play Quakers and Indians (or to be more politically correct–Friends and Native Americans)? It is a different take on the childhood game of cowboys and Indians. Since Friends practice non-violence, Quakers and Indians requires no pistols, tama hawks, knives, bows and arrows, or spears–just courageous, radical love.
Here is a true story about Quakers and Indians. It is from the book Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings. The story can also be found at this link: http://www.qis.net/~daruma/feathers.html
One Sunday morning in 1775, at the Friends Meeting House in Easton Township, Saratoga County, New York a group gathered for worship. They were very uneasy because bands of Indians were on the warpath and most of their neighbors had left the area for larger settlements.
A visiting Friend, Robert Nisbet, rose and said: “The Beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long. And how shall the Beloved of the Lord be thus safely covered? Even as the psalmist says: ‘He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.’ You have done well, dear Friends, to stay on in your homes, even though all your neighbors have fled. These promises of covering and of shelter are truly meant for you. Make them your own, and remember the words of the Scriptures, ‘Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day.'”
Then the worshippers saw Indian feathers outside the windows. As fear rose, they decided to stay calm and to trust in God, no matter what happened.
Suddenly a war party sprang through the door. Their bows and arrows were drawn and ready to shoot. The Quakers didn’t move. They just looked at the Indians with love.
The Indians froze in a sort of stare-down stand-off with the Quakers. They wondered why the Quakers had no weapons. The leader of the war party caught the eye of one of the Quaker elders, Zebulon Hoxie, and stared angrily at him. It is written that “steady friendliness to the strange visitors was written in every line of Zebulon Hoxie’s face.”
The Indian leader, gradually overcome by non-resistance and love, ordered the war party to put down their weapons and to sit on the benches for worship. An awkward time of silence followed. Finally a few of the Friends began to shake hand with each other and with their Indian visitors.
The Indian leader spoke in broken English: “Indian come to kill white man. Indian come, see white men all sit quiet: no gun, no arrow, no knife; all quiet, all still, worshipping Great Spirit. Great Spirit is Indian, too. Then Great Spirit say to Indian: ‘You must not kill these white men!'”
Then the Indian leader took a white feather from one of his arrows. He stuck it in a crack above the doorway and said: “Indians all friends when see this feather.”
How different our American history might have been had a culture of Quakers and Indians prevailed over the culture of violence known as cowboys and Indians! We might even be watching old movies where a weaponless John Wayne lovingly stares down and peacefully wins over Indian war parties. And perhaps the random mass murders that we often read about in America, might be far less frequent.