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Indian Country Responds to Pope Francis Receiving a Headdress During ‘Pilgrimage of Penance’


Pope Francis was gifted a traditional headdress by Chief Wilton Littlechild after delivering an apology for the role the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential schools. Pope Francis wore the headdress briefly and did not speak while wearing it. It’s the first public apology by the leader of the Catholic Church. 

“I am deeply sorry. Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the indigenous peoples. I am sorry. I ask forgiveness,” he said

Many took their responses to social media to one of the most significant and iconic Indigenous cultural honors, the gifting of a headdress. 

Joe Horse Capture, Vice President of Native Collections of Native American History and Culture at the Autry Museum tweeted, “I have so much to say about this, and all of it negative. I am practicing ‘If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all’ mantra. But I’ll be honest, it’s difficult! #WTF.”

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Russ Diabo, Kahnawake Mohawk, Indigenous Policy Analyst, Editor and Publisher of the First Nations Strategic Bulletin said on Twitter, “What we witnessed today was pageantry leading two facile statements by Pope and putting a headdress on him is the Catholic Church and Canada collaborating in creating a mythology for a shared ‘Reconciliation’ agenda narrated by prominent federal collaborators/residential school survivors!”

An unknown Twitter profile named Nicoló said, “get this headdress of the head of The Holy Father.”

Rod Mickleburgh, former China correspondent for Globe and Mail, author of two award-winning books, said of the Pope wearing a headdress, “Cheers and applause from the crowd, as the Pope gets a headdress.”

Kristina Wong, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, said, “This is a long overdue apology to indigenous people but did the Pope really have to wear the full on the Indian headdress to do this?”

Christian Big Eagle said of the Pope’s visit, “Logging off. As an Indigenous person I’m triggered by all the news about the Pope. I saw someone give him a headdress and it just made so angry. A headdress has to be earned. The Pope is head of an organization that raped and murdered Indigenous children.”

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Pope Francis Apologizes for “Evil” Committed by Christians against Indigenous Peoples
Tim Giago, Oglala Lakota Publisher and Trailblazer for Modern Indigenous Journalism, Walks On
NCAI’s Open Letter to Pope Francis on Indian Residential Schools

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About The Author

Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist and based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.






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