For American Indians, the removal of Christmas from American culture is very much like removing the Indian names and logos from American universities. Americans can't celebrate Indians in public, and now Indians can't celebrate Christmas? True, Americans aren't Indians, but Indians are Christian. This is an agonizing irony. First America forces Indians to be Christian, and now Americans don't want to see Indians or Christianity in public.
They forced us to be Christian. Now they want it back!
If the civilization that forced Christianity upon us is now ashamed of Christmas, it makes mockery of Indians who believe in Christ—which is most Indians in America. Indians are not ashamed of Christ. Indians should defend Christmas with "savage" devotion, just like Indians defend the America flag and the land it waves over.
Indian pow-wows, family gatherings, and Comanche tribal meetings always begin with prayer. I have never been to any Indian meeting that did not open with prayer. I have never eaten with Indians before a prayer was offered over the food—in the name of Jesus Christ. Whether the prayer is offered in Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Apache, or Choctaw, you can always hear the name of "Jesus".
Christian Indians today fulfill the historical vision of every Christian missionary in Western Europe. The fact that Indians are Christian is colossal social memorial to the sacrifice early Christian missionaries made to spread their beloved gospel to "the dusky heathen". Indian Christianity is the inheritance of the church of Jesus Christ in America.
I am a Comanche, but I'm Christian. The Comanche were commonly known as the most fierce, brutal, and warlike of all Indians; but my family has been Christian since the 1850's, when young Bad Eagle, my Comanche ancestor, was captured by the Spanish military while he was on a raid. He was later adopted by one Capitán (Luis) Portillo, aspersed a Spanish Catholic, christened "Cruz Portillo", and witnessed by the godfather Señor Capitán Don Antonio Ponce de León, in the military establishment, El Conejo, Coahuila, Mexico.
Of course, "Cruz Portillo" later returned to the Comanches, to his relatives Mumsekai and Ishatai, and himself became a band headman among the Quahadi [Antelope] Comanche. But the family story says that Bad Eagle died, in 1906, while chanting the words "going home to Jesus". I was told that story when I was five years old.
In the late 1890s, Seventh-day Adventism came into Oklahoma. In the 1930s it grew in southwest counties. The descendents of Bad Eagle all became Seventh-Day Adventist Protestants by the 1940s. These included his grandson George Portillo and all George's children, one of whom was my mother, Norma Juanita Portillo Yeagley.
American missionaries, Catholic and Protestant, left their mark on American Indians. Sometimes it may look like a deep, ugly scar; sometimes it left permanent wounds; but, the elders of Indian country to this day pray in the name of Jesus. It is part of Indian culture. It is part of what it means, historically, to be Indian.
Yes, we have our tribal customs, sentiments, practices, and ceremonies. Sometimes they're a bit secret. Sometimes we do things that Christians don't do. (Hey, sometimes Christians do things that heathen do!) But, the leaders of our people, the elders, the councilmen, are almost always Christian. It's something we wear, like some general's coat we took in a battle.
Is it the white man's religion? Not really. He simply brought it to us with his packaging, but worship of the Creator has always been an Indian thing.
Orthodox Christians believe Jesus Christ is the Creator. (John 1:1-3). Indians don't have a problem with that. Seventh-Day Adventism, with its recovery of the ancient Hebrew sabbath—the day that honors the Creator—is especially suited to Indians, in my opinion. That's what I grew up believing. I was baptized in my mother's womb, nine months pregnant as she was. I was later baptized at 13. (It was a macho thing. Any man who went through what Jesus did, for me, deserved my full devotion. Anything less, and I was less than a man. Less than a brave.)
Those who want to remove Christmas from America want to make fools out of Indians. These same people, the liberals, have already taken Indian names off schools and off clothing. But to take away Christmas, that's taking our manhood.
They're saying the Indians who became Christian were all wrong. That it was all a mistake. That we mustn't be Christian anymore. We lost to a Christian civilization—and we shouldn't be Christian?
This insults the dignity of our wars. It denies our honest defeat, and dishonors our spilled blood.
The war on Christmas is also a war on Indian pride.
Dr. David A. Yeagley [email him] is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, Elgin, Oklahoma. His articles appear in TheAmericanEnterprise.com, FrontPageMagazine.com, and on his own Web site BadEagle.com, and he is a regular speaker for Young America's Foundation. David Yeagley's columns for VDARE.COM include An American Indian View of Immigration, and To Deport or not to Deport. David Yeagley is the author of Bad Eagle: The Rantings of a Conservative Comanche.