Mohawks and Quakers
"Visions For The Future"
Why do Quakers come to help build the Freedom School? Quakers are concerned for education, for the preservation of the customs and traditions of peoples, and for the elimination of injustices that prevent attainment of the highest reaches of human achievement. All of this is tied to the building of the school. But Quakers see, too, in the Mohawk people, a community, a belief and a vision that is precious because of its similarity to our community, beliefs and visions for the future. Mohawks and Quakers make decisions on the basis of consensus and not vote, seeking the unity of community and not divisive decisions that satisfy some and exclude others.
Quakers and Mohawks focus on peace as the highest quality for community and relationship. Peace is the way that beckons us to action which alleviates injustice, intolerance and suffering and opens new ways of understanding and cooperation. Quakers and Mohawks do not employ leaders for the community but select individuals whose life style and commitments demand respect and provide strength for everyone who seeks support. The qualities of this leadership are not power and authority, but rather sensitivity, wisdom and strength learned through suffering.
Mohawks and Quakers believe in a world permeated by the spirit of the Creator who provides graciously for all that is created. Life is sustained by the Creator's care and our response to all these blessings in loving respect for the Creator and all that is created around us and shares life and the world with us. The concern of both Mohawk and Quaker peoples is to live simply so that we make use of only that which we need for sufficient living. We seek to leave the precious pieces of creation intact for those that will follow after us, and out of regard for the One whose creativity produced all that is.
Our emphasis on education provides us with an understanding of the ways and intricacies of creation, gives us profound respect for its interrelationships and proclaims our responsibilities for its preservation and sustenance. The extinction of any part of creation through neglect, abuse or ignorance is a great tragedy and touches the heart of all creation. The loss of the traditions, perspectives and character of a people from the fabric of humankind depletes the richness of life for all peoples.
The Freedom School seeks to enable children to understand the world about them and to sense their full relatedness to it all so that education becomes the sharing with and the caring for the creation; the Freedom School seeks to enable Mohawk children to understand and value the unique qualities of Mohawk and Native American peoples so that these are preserved in the fabric of humankind.
-Edwin E. Staudt III, Coordinator Bucks Quarterly Meetings of Friends (Quakers)
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
August 21, 1989