This past Thursday, Sept. 21, Jim Bear Jacobs visited Loras to speak during the International Day of Peace. Born in St. Paul, MN, in 1977, Jacobs is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation, a Native American denomination in Wisconsin. He currently lives with his family in Mounds View, MN. He is an associate pastor of Church of All Nations, stemming from degrees in Pastoral Studies and Christian Theologies, and is a convener of the “Healing Minnesota” committee, which is dedicated to creating educational events of dialogue within faith communities.
He also works as a cultural facilitator throughout the Quad Cities, striving to insure that indigenous and native voices are brought to places where they have been formerly ignored.
Last week, Jacobs spoke on the topic of “Who is an American?” He addressed several conflicting ideals regarding the current state of immigration and citizenship in the U.S., which has become a growing issue in government regulation and a concern from many Americans, affected and otherwise. Jacobs cited many instances in the country’s past when injustices were doled out on account of race or status, including the forcible removal of American Indians from their territories across the Midwest.
He pointed out the unfair and outdated opinions towards certain groups and ethnicities in well-known government documents that have since been changed, summing up with emphasis on the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: “We the people …”
When questioned as to the definition of a true American, Jacobs answered insightfully.
“I’m going to be honest, I’m unqualified to answer the question ‘Who is an American?’” he said.
In a way, his words may hold the key to understanding what is necessary to overcome issues of race and national identity.