by Melissa Vera
Ed Keener founded the Extraordinary Witness Lecture Series in 1998 in honor Harry Kessler and his daughter, Margaret Keener. The father-daughter duo dedicated their lives to upholding social justice through the practice of law and education. The Kessler-Keener lecture series features a person known for their peace, justice, and human rights work, including the notable Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel and the United Farmers Union Co-Founder Delores Huerta, to name a few.
Saturday, Nov. 13 is his next event called Bridging New Pathways: a Native Non-Native Cross Cultural Event for Understanding: featuring speakers, workshops, dramatic performances, and traditional Native food. Event highlights include presentations by Dr. Robbie Paul and Phill Allen, performances by the Artists Playwrights Project written by Coeur D’Alene and Nez Perce youth, and dialogue-driven workshops.
“Our diverging ways began almost from the beginning of contact between white, majority peoples and American Native peoples,” Keener told Citydesk. “There has often been an attitude that our ‘white way’ is the one authentic one and that the views of others should change. Well, that attitude will cause division and separation. I can understand why Native peoples might want to stay separated, but bridging this gap of respect, mutual understanding and finding common ground is an imperative for me. need to learn from the Native cultures which first inhabited the ground on which I now live.”
Keener told Citydesk that a carefully crafted apology to the indigenous is long overdue.
“If we whites plow ahead, without mutual Native input, to offer a long overdue apology it will not have considered and well thought-out content and subsequent consequences. What if Natives won't accept an apology without concessions and some forms of reparations? Are we in the dominant culture ready for this? Without genuine and authentic relationship building what we "whites" may offer could well have little meaning to our Native brothers and sisters.”
New Pathways: a Native Non-Native Cross Cultural Event for Understanding is slated for Saturday from noon-9 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Boise.