Potlatch and Planted Seeds: A Historical Perspective on Intercessory Prayer for Native America


Historical References / Anniversaries

April 19, 1884 – Amendment to the Canadian “Indian Act” that outlawed the Potlatch.
(There was also a ban in the US)

The following links describe the Canadian Indian Act. Although I could not find a specific ruling by the US regarding the banning of Potlatch, several of these and other articles note that it was definitely practiced. You will find that a lot of the push behind the banning of the Potlatch came from missionaries, the Church and governments. For the most part, it seems that the redistribution of wealth to the members of tribal communities and the community strengthening at these events must have been intimidating or threatening to those outside the community.

Indian Act

The Indian Act: Historical Overview

The Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-5 (Annotated) – Notes on the Indian Act

The links below give some information about Potlatch.

The Potlatch Ban

Kwakiuti Indian Band – Potlatch

U’mista Cultural Centre ~ The Potlatch Collection History

The ban was removed in the US in 1934 with the Indian Reorganization Act and in Canada with a revision to the Indian Act in 1951

Indian Reorganization Act of 1934

Indian Reorganization Act

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
The Indian Reorganization Act (Wheeler – Howard Act) June 18, 1934

The Indian Reorganization Act, June 18, 1934
(Wheeler-Howard Act – 48 Stat. 984 – 25 U.S.C. § 461 et seq)

Although, we don’t know the specifics of the hearts of those who pushed to ban Potlatch or why Potlatch was threatening, we can see quite clearly that redistribution of wealth and community gathering was a part of early Christian culture.

Scriptural References

Scripture gives some great insight on how we can proceed in prayer.

Matthew 18:20“For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. [Exod. 3:1]” Amplified

Luke 18:22“And when Jesus heard it, He said to him, One thing you still lack. Sell everything that you have and divide [the money] among the poor, and you will have [rich] treasure in heaven; and come back [and] follow Me [become My disciple, join My party, and accompany Me].” Amplified.

Romans 12:13“Contribute to the needs of God’s people [sharing in the necessities of the saints]; pursue the practice of hospitality.” Amplified

Acts 4:34-35“Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses proceeded to sell them, and one by one they brought (gave back) the amount received from the sales and laid it at the feet of the apostles (special messengers). Then distribution was made according as anyone had need.” Amplified

2 Corinthians 9:13“Because at [your] standing of the test of this ministry, they will glorify God for your loyalty and obedience to the Gospel of Christ which you confess, as well as for your generous-hearted liberality to them and to all [the other needy ones].” Amplified

Prayer Regarding Potlatch

“Yahweh, thank You for the many traditions of Your indigenous people. Thank You for teaching Your indigenous people about Your principles and ways. You taught the people about gathering together for fellowship, companionship, community and the re-distribution of material goods according to needs. The Potlatch is such a beautiful ceremony and tradition, glorifying You and Your ways, building up community, and ensuring the success of future generations. How it grieves my heart to learn that representatives of governments and religions sought to destroy Potlatch because of fear and misunderstanding, if not also intimidation and jealousy. People who claimed to be Your missionaries, priests and servants, judging Potlatch and perceiving it as an evil and destructive practice. Great Mystery, throughout North America, the Potlatch was outlawed for years, if not generations. Yahweh, we are SO thankful that You restored Potlatch, according to Your mercies, grace, and good will. You are the God of Restoration, Renewal, and Resurrection. You are the God who remembers the remnant and breathes life into dry bones. Thank you. We pray that you continue to nurture restoration in the hearts, minds, souls, spirits, and bodies of your indigenous peoples. We pray you continue to restore practices and traditions that glorify You and Your principles. We pray You will continue to protect and prosper Potlatch according to Your perfect will. Amen”.


Historical References / Anniversaries

As I was looking through historical events for the month of April, I saw a pattern. There were many significant dates of what some would perceive as progress. I asked Yahweh for direction, and He prompted me to look into the name “April”.

The name April comes from that Latin word aperire which means “to open”. The context refers to the ground opening to receive seeds. Following are a number of “seeds” planted in the month of April for Indigenous peoples. Keep these in prayer, as well as including Potlatch, which was restored in 1934 (US) and 1951 (Canada).

Seeds of Peace

April 1, 1621 – The Pilgrim – Wampanoag Peace Treaty

Wampanoag Indigenous Program (Current)

April 5, 1614 (April 14, 1614) – Pocahontas (Matoaka) Married John Rolfe

John Rolfe Marries Pocahontas

April 5, 1614 (April 15, 1614) – Chickahominy Peace Treaty involving Pocahontas.
(British Colony & Powhatan Confederacy)

Anglo-Powhatan Wars

“The Peace of Pocahontas: Peace negotiations stalled over return of captured hostages and arms for nearly a year; finally in March 1614, Dale went with Pocahontas and a large force to find Powhatan himself. Getting a shower of arrows at present-day West Point, they went ashore and sacked the town; finding Powhatan at his new capital Matchcot. They finally concluded a peace that was sealed by the marriage of Pocahontas to the colonist John Rolfe. This was the first known inter-racial union in Virginia, and helped usher in a brief period of better relations between the Indians and the newcomers. A separate peace was concluded the same year with the autonomous Chickahominy tribe which even made them honorary “Englishmen”, thus subjects of King James I. Following the 1614 marriage of Rolfe and Pocahontas, relative peace and good relations reigned for several years. This time has been called the “golden age of Powhatan-English relations, in English eyes”. It has also been called the peace of Pocahontas.”

Historical Record: 1614 Treaty

Seeds of Justice

April 10, 1869 – Board of Indian Commissioners
The Board of Indian Commissioners

Board of Indian Commissioners

April 10, 1883 – Courts of Indian Offenses
Tribal sovereignty in the United States

“Empowerment of tribal courts, 1883: On April 10, 1883, five years after establishing Indian police powers throughout the various reservations, the Indian Commissioner approved rules for a “court of Indian offenses.” The court provided a venue for prosecuting criminal charges, but afforded no relief for tribes seeking to resolve civil matters. The new courts’ rules specifically targeted tribal religious practices which it called “heathenish rites” and the commissioner urged courts to “destroy the tribal relations as fast as possible.”

April 11, 1968 – American Indian Civil Rights Act
Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (25 U.S.C. §§ 1301-03)

American Indian Civil Rights Handbook

April 11, 1970 – Public Law 91-229 (84 Stat 120) Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to make to Indian tribes and tribal corporations, and for other purposes.

Vol. VI, Laws (Compiled from February 10, 1939 to January 13, 1971)
Public Law 91-229 – April 11, 1970 | [S. 227] 84 Stat. 120

April 13, 1946 – Indian Claims Commission

Indian Claims Commission Decisions

April 21, 1869 – First Indian Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Ely Samuel Parker (Seneca) 1869-71

Seeds of Prosperity

April 12, 1974 – Indian Financing Act (Public Law 93-262) and 88 Stat 78

Public Law 93-262 – April 12, 1974

Seeds of Favor and Equality

April 16, 1550 – King Charles V – Stops Indian Conquests in Americas

Valladolid Debate

Bartolome de las Casas (1484-1566)

Charles Kurzman – Sample Reading Notes

“King Charles V orders conquests to cease, 16 April 1550, while Las Casas and Sepúlveda debate just methods of conducting them. Sessions begin mid-August 1550 / and continue in April-May 1551. (67-8) The judges made no collective decision / and at least one had still not responded in writing in 1557. (113-4) [It’s unclear when conquests resumed.]”

April 18, 1879 – Trial of Standing Bear
(Stating that Standing Bear, as an American Indian is a person)

Standing Bear

NebraskaStudies.Org – The Trial of Standing Bear

Nebraska State Historical Society – Standing Bear, ca. 1834-1908

April 17, 1990 – Employment Division v. Smith
(Use of Peyote for Religious Ceremony)

Employment Division v. Smith

Cornell University Law School
Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (No. 88-1213) 307 Or. 68, 763 P.2d 146, reversed.

Seeds of Benevolence and Provision

April 16, 1934 – Johnson O’Malley Act

25 USC § 452 –
Contracts for education, medical attention, relief and social welfare of Indians

April 22, 1999 – MikMaq Education Act

Scripture References

Scripture gives some great insight on how we can proceed in prayer.

Matthew 13:1-30“That same day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting beside the sea. 2But such great crowds gathered about Him that He got into a boat and remained sitting there, while all the throng stood on the shore. 3And He told them many things in parables (stories by way of illustration and comparison), saying, A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil; and at once they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they dried up and withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them out. 8Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain–some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. 9He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing. 10Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables? 11And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13This is the reason that I speak to them in parables: because having the power of seeing, they do not see; and having the power of hearing, they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand. 14In them indeed is the process of fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: You shall indeed hear and hear but never grasp and understand; and you shall indeed look and look but never see and perceive. 15For this nation’s heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them. 16But blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. 17Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men [men who were upright and in right standing with God] yearned to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 18Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: 19While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside. 20As for what was sown on thin (rocky) soil, this is he who hears the Word and at once welcomes and accepts it with joy; 21Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit. 23As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and grasps and comprehends it; he indeed bears fruit and yields in one case a hundred times as much as was sown, in another sixty times as much, and in another thirty. 24Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. 26So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also. 27And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it? 28He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out? 29But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it. 30Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary.”

FYI:  According to the NLT, the following Scriptures relate to actual dates in April:

2 Kings 25:27-28 “In the thirty-seventh year of King Jehoiachin’s exile in Babylon, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne. 28 He was kind to Jehoiachin and released him from prison on April 2 of that year. He spoke pleasantly to Jehoiachin and gave him preferential treatment over all the other exiled kings in Babylon.”

Ezra 6:19-22, “On April 21 the returned exiles celebrated Passover. 20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were ceremonially clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for the other priests, and for themselves. 21 The Passover meal was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile and by the others in the land who had turned from their immoral customs to worship the LORD, the God of Israel. 22 They ate the Passover meal and celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. There was great joy throughout the land because the LORD had changed the attitude of the king of Assyria toward them, so that he helped them to rebuild the Temple of God, the God of Israel.”

Ezra 7:8-10, “Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in August of that year. 9 He had left Babylon on April 8 and came to Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the LORD and to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel.”

Ezra 8:31-32, “We broke camp at the Ahava Canal on April 19 and started off to Jerusalem. And the gracious hand of our God protected us and saved us from enemies and bandits along the way. 32 So at last we arrived safely in Jerusalem, where we rested for three days.”

Est 3:7-15, “So in the month of April, during the twelfth year of King Xerxes’ reign, lots were cast (the lots were called purim) to determine the best day and month to take action. And the day selected was March 7, nearly a year later. 8 Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire. Their laws are different from those of any other nation, and they refuse to obey even the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. 9 If it please Your Majesty, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 375 tons of silver to the government administrators so they can put it into the royal treasury.” 10 The king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his signet ring from his finger and giving it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite — the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king told Haman, “but go ahead and do as you like with these people.” 12 On April 17 Haman called in the king’s secretaries and dictated letters to the princes, the governors of the respective provinces, and the local officials of each province in their own scripts and languages. These letters were signed in the name of King Xerxes, sealed with his ring, 13 and sent by messengers into all the provinces of the empire. The letters decreed that all Jews — young and old, including women and children — must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on a single day. This was scheduled to happen nearly a year later on March 7. The property of the Jews would be given to those who killed them. 14 A copy of this decree was to be issued in every province and made known to all the people, so that they would be ready to do their duty on the appointed day. 15 At the king’s command, the decree went out by the swiftest messengers, and it was proclaimed in the fortress of Susa. Then the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa fell into confusion.”

Ezek 29:17-21. “On April 26, during the twenty-seventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: 18 “Son of man, the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon fought so hard against Tyre that the warriors’ heads were rubbed bare and their shoulders were raw and blistered. Yet Nebuchadnezzar and his army won no plunder to compensate them for all their work. 19 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He will carry off their wealth, plundering everything they have to pay his army. 20 Yes, I have given him the land of Egypt as a reward for his work, says the Sovereign LORD, because he was working for me when he destroyed Tyre. 21 “And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then at last your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezek 30:20-26, “On April 29, during the eleventh year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: 21 “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. His arm has not been put in a cast so that it may heal. Neither has it been bound up with a splint to make it strong enough to hold a sword. 22 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am the enemy of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt! I will break both of his arms — the good arm along with the broken one — and I will make his sword clatter to the ground. 23 I will scatter the Egyptians to many lands throughout the world. 24 I will strengthen the arms of Babylon’s king and put my sword in his hand. But I will break the arms of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he will lie there mortally wounded, groaning in pain. 25 I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, while the arms of Pharaoh fall useless to his sides. And when I put my sword in the hand of Babylon’s king and he brings it against the land of Egypt, Egypt will know that I am the LORD. 26 I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezek 40:1-4, “On April 28, during the twenty-fifth year of our captivity — fourteen years after the fall of Jerusalem — the LORD took hold of me. 2 In a vision of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high mountain. From there I could see what appeared to be a city across from me toward the south. 3 As he brought me nearer, I saw a man whose face shone like bronze standing beside a gateway entrance. He was holding in his hand a measuring tape and a measuring rod. 4 He said to me, “Son of man, watch and listen. Pay close attention to everything I show you. You have been brought here so I can show you many things. Then you will return to the people of Israel and tell them everything you have seen.”

Dan 10:4-21, “On April 23, as I was standing beside the great Tigris River, 5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. 6 His body looked like a dazzling gem. From his face came flashes like lightning, and his eyes were like flaming torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice was like the roaring of a vast multitude of people. 7 I, Daniel, am the only one who saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. 8 So I was left there all alone to watch this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. 9 When I heard him speak, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. 10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. 11 And the man said to me, “O Daniel, greatly loved of God, listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling with fear. 12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.” 15 While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. 16 Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am terrified by the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. 17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” 18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. 19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are deeply loved by God. Be at peace; take heart and be strong!” As he spoke these words, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Now you may speak, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” 20 He replied, “Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and then against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece. 21 But before I do that, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (There is no one to help me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince.”

Prayer for Planted Seeds

“Yahweh, You are the Mighty Plower, Sower, Harvester and Ultimate Creator and Steward of New Life. Since the foundations of the earth, You have been the Hands, Feet, Back, Water, Energy and Life-giver of everything. Your Holy language is rooted in agriculture. Your Holy people are people of agriculture. Even Your spiritual work follows principles of sowing and reaping. Father, You have established many good seeds on Turtle Island. Seeds of repentance, reconciliation, renewal and restoration. You have planted seeds that have the potential to help Your indigenous people receive healing, empowerment, equality, success and victory. You have planted seeds of peace, justice, prosperity, favor, equality, provision, and benevolence. These seeds were planted in the month of April, a time when the ground is ready to receive seed. Great Seed Planter, we pray that You will nurture the seeds that have been planted. We ask that You restore the seed that has been carried off by birds. We ask that You nurture the seed that was put into poor soil and burned up by the sun. We ask that You rescue the seed that has been choked out by weeds and thorns. We ask that all the seed that has been planted will find its way to good soil, that it will be nurtured and respected, honored and prospered. There have been many decisions and actions made in government and the Church in order to help and restore Your indigenous peoples. Some of those have prospered. Some have become misused. Some have been neglected. Some have been stolen. Some have been stomped out. Father, send Your Spirit across Turtle Island and redeem, renew, restore, reconcile and prosper the seeds of Your good and perfect will and faithfulness. Call Your people together, and sow Your word and Your ways into their hearts, that they would be good stewards of the soil and seed You have provided. Identify those who plow, those who plant, those who nurture and those who harvest. Empower them for victory. Father, meet the needs of Your indigenous people and bring forth a bountiful harvest from all that You have planted. Amen.”

Rev. Jeny Running Brook Covill
First Nations Monday

(Note: This is a study that was originally prepared in April 2012 in partnership with NIAP Prayer Shield)

Books Used in this 12 Month Study

The Holy Bible in the following translations: KJV, NIV, Amplified, NASB, CEV and The Scriptures.

“Church History in Plain Language” by Bruce L. Shelley

“Encyclopedia of Native American Wars & Warfare”. General Editors William B. Kessel, Ph.D. and Robert Wooster, Ph.D.

“This Day In North American Indian History” by Phil Konstantin

As with the First Nations Monday prayer and Scripture studies, I like to study with 5 translations. As you go through these studies, I encourage you to do the same. “The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) is a great companion version that I find gives great insight.


First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – New Testament

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – Old Testament

Cherokee Bible Project Titles in Book form:
(A joint mission of the Cherokee Bible Project and Four Rivers Native American Church)
Genesis in Cherokee
Haggai in Cherokee
Jonah in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
JAMES to JUDE in Cherokee
John’s Revelation in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)

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  1. […] Source: Potlatch and Planted Seeds: A Historical Perspective on Intercessory Prayer for Native America […]

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