From the North Carolina Synod Council

Day 225: Friday, May 13, 2022

In July, native siblings throughout the ELCA invited churches to drape an orange cloth in an act of holy remembering—remembering native children killed in the boarding school movement. They shared:

In honor and memory of the children of the First Nations people and of our Native children who never made it home, and for those still living the nightmare imposed on them as children of Canada and the United States we humbly ask our brothers and sisters of the church to hang an orange banner in the sanctuaries of your churches for 225 days. In remembrance and lament of each child that was thrown into those graves, and those yet to be discovered we honor each of their lives.

In September, we draped an orange cloth both inside our synod chapel and outside the doors. Now 225 days later, we remove those cloths. We acknowledge that healing does not come from orange fabric alone. The orange fabric is a first step and invitation to continue to take steps of lamentation, confession, reconciliation, and healing. 

The US Department of the Interior just this week released the first report of the Boarding School movement as a step towards truth telling. In North Carolina, there were four total boarding school sites identified by the U.S. Interior Department with three located in or near the Great Smoky Mountains and the Nantahala National Forest, and just outside of Asheville, N.C. The fourth site is located near Durham, N.C.

Continue to do the work. Acknowledge the ancestral lands on which you reside. Learn the boarding school story. Engage in history and remember that we have native siblings right here in our state that we can honor, respect, and work alongside for justice. 

We remove the orange cloth with this prayer, "Today we remember, the innocent children who were torn from their families, taken to boarding schools, abused by their carers and died so far away from the communities. Hear our prayer, for the innocent sacred lives of all Indigenous children who survived, who have been found, and those who remain lost. Move our hearts by your mercy as we acknowledge and repent all of the suffering that our churches caused. Guide and restore us to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

Walking with you,

Diana Haywood
Vice President, North Carolina Synod Council

Our NC Synod Land Acknowledgement 

The North Carolina Synod office is located on the original and ancestral homelands of the Keyauwee people and we give thanks for their presence here since time immemorial. We also wish to recognize and honor all our indigenous siblings who have called and continue to call this land their home.

Read Our Full Land Acknowledgement
Explore Tools to Help Your Congregation Create a Land Acknowledgement
4 Reasons We Have An NC Synod Land Acknowledgment

Learning the Boarding School Story

Alongside the invitation to drape orange cloth, the American Indian Alaskan Native Association of the ELCA provided a series of topics for us to explore for the next year. As a synod, we have created a Learning Team to invite us more deeply into these topics through a monthly e-news including background, theological reflections, and additional resources.

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January Topic: Carlisle Indian Boarding School

February Topic: Captain Richard Henry Pratt

March Topic: Full Text of Captain Pratt’s Speech

April Topic: United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child

May Topic: United Nations' Definition of Genocide


If you have questions about any of these resources, contact the NC Synod Council's Mission & Ministry Committee staff liaison, Pastor Danielle DeNise.

Special e-News | NC Synod, ELCA | 704-633-4861 |