NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community
18th Annual Symposium

June 3 - 6, 2021
“Treaty and Covenant: Creating Space for Hope”

Whether it was Indigenous peoples of North America, Central and South America, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere in the globe, who received early Dutch, English, French, Spanish or other European explorers, there were well-established treaty making or similar traditions that guided their responses to the newcomers to their lands. These treaty traditions were encoded in wampum belts and the oral traditions of the various nations and served as a template for new sacred agreements with these European nations.

European explorers, in turn, came from a Christian heritage that articulated the ideas of covenant and testament, ideas akin to Indigenous treaty making traditions. Each nation, whether Indigenous or European, had their unique understandings of sacred ‘relationship-making’ institutions and ceremonies, reflecting the special genius of each nation. A recognition that treaties, covenants, and testaments are the most sacred and binding of community and individual agreements witnessed by the Creator or God, as each nation conceived of her/him/they/it, was a commonality that should have portended peaceful possibilities of new relationship.

The failure to connect in this way, as a meeting of fundamentally differing national philosophies, spiritualties, or frames of reference underlies the failure to achieve the Haudenosaunee Kayanerekowa (Great Peace), the Māori notions of Te Tatau Pounamu and Hohou-rongo, the Cherokee Nvwatohiyadv (Harmony Way), the Australian Indigenous understanding of Makarrata (The Coming Together), the Lakota Cangleska Wakan (Sacred Hoop). These treaty/covenant/testament making traditions still stand as therapeutic, healing processes in today’s polarized and fractious societies. Martin Luther King Jr.’s articulation of the Christian church as the Beloved Community echoes these Indigenous concepts and practices as does the work of past. Together, they testify to the intention of the Creator of all things – that is to say the renewal of all of creation through the Christ.

Explorations, rediscoveries, and experiences of the implementation of these ancient relationship-making processes are invited for the NAIITS 2021 symposium.

For many years now NAIITS has been exploring topics of interest and concern to a wide variety of people engaged within the wider Indigenous community. At each symposium there have been clear articulations of the landscape in which we find ourselves, along with cutting edge insights about how we might more effectively engage as Indigenous people within our communities and with those from other socio-cultural backgrounds and contexts within the lived gospel of Jesus the Christ.

For the 2021 symposium, we invite people who desire to present a paper or “panel* on one of the following themes to submit an abstract and proposal for consideration. In the abstract, please outline the intention of the paper as well as the method(s) of research and presentation. Please also submit a bio and photo (or bios in the case of a panel) of the presenter(s) for use in promotion of the symposium.
We invite proposals for papers and presentations from scholars, scholar-practitioners, community practitioners, ministers, and other interested peoples that address themselves to the topic of this year’s symposium.
Of particular interest will be how the interplay of a theology that shifts its starting points and practice from a deficit framework to an asset-based one might transform our understanding of the human community environment, the practical issues of social context, and relationships with the living creation of which humanity is a part. Papers using any of a broad range of research and presentation methodologies will be considered. Submissions should address one or more of the following topic areas as noted above:
• Indigenous values and perspectives that might contribute to alternative responses to those being offered elsewhere in respect of treaty and covenant;
• Theologies and Indigenous readings of the scriptures that might offer a way forward in some of the following:
o How does the Bible instruct us as far as its understandings of covenant models of intercultural and creatio-centric relationship?
o What do the concepts of shalom and harmony mean when discussed in light of covenant and/or treaty? What might their intersection mean for intercultural health and wellbeing?
o What, if any, are human responsibilities for our joint wellbeing that emerge in our increasingly intercultural encounters that can be mediated and curated more effectively through treaty and covenant?
• What are the implications of short and long-term engagement with the land and its original inhabitants under treaty that nurture life and well-being? How, then, does either covenant or treaty that is inclusive of the land bring healing to and with human persons and communities?
Papers should strive to demonstrate how traditional Indigenous understandings, cultural perspectives, and historic practices, in conversation with biblical Christianity might strengthen the wider society and mitigate the continued alienation of people from the land.

The purpose of the symposium is to facilitate open dialogue about various aspects of Indigenous biblical and theological contextualization in thought, history, and experience. Symposium planners hope that, in their submissions, participants will bring together academic and practical approaches to the issues being addressed in the symposium.

Submission Guidelines
Submissions must include a brief personal bio and both an abstract and proposal for the presentation of not more than 300 words in total. The proposal must include a clear statement of your ideas and, if a scholarly presentation, enough of a context to show that you are aware of the basic issues and literature of the field.

a) Papers and/or panels*
Papers should be both theoretically solid and simultaneously practical. Submissions will be evaluated in light of their potential to contribute to the Symposium. To encourage dialogue, we welcome submissions from various perspectives, from Indigenous presenters as well as those from supportive non-Indigenous presenters. Scholarly papers must adhere to the latest Chicago Turabian formatting style; in Times Roman 12 pt. font; and have complete footnotes and Works Cited. Please refer to the NAIITS Journal Style Guide for more information. Papers may be distributed to selected respondents at the sole discretion of NAIITS. Presented papers will be published in the NAIITS Journal after a peer-review process.

b) Practitioners
If the proposal is for a more practitioner focused presentation – something very much welcomed – then the proposal should describe the individual’s community of practice, the length of time the person has been in that community of practice, the connection the practitioner is making to the topic under consideration and how the presentation is intended to be given.

Regardless of whether the intent is paper, panel, or practitioner, the proposal is the document on which submissions will be evaluated and selected. Abstracts and bios provided for selected submissions will be used in advertisements and symposium materials. Selected papers will be allotted 40 minutes for presentation. NAIITS may, at its sole discretion, invite or offer respondents for the papers.

The deadline for submission of proposals for papers is midnight February 1, 2021. Please submit electronically to: NAIITS Symposium Coordinator at

Finished papers must be submitted in the above style no later than March 31, 2021 so as to be included in the symposium and become part of the handouts.

*PLEASE NOTE: Panels will only be accepted if the panellists also submit a paper – either jointly or individually – for publication in the annual NAIITS journal. A simple PowerPoint presentation will not be accepted.


• Is a member of Indigenous Pathways (IP), a non-sectarian, non-profit charity devoted to ministry with and within the Indigenous context;

• Is the educational member of the IP family dedicated to encouraging the development and articulation of Indigenous perspectives on theology and practice rooted in life as followers of the Jesus Way;

• Addresses scriptural, theological, ethical, and social engagement issues from Indigenous perspectives;

• Facilitates the creation of a written theological foundation for a) the visioning of new paradigms of ministry with and by Indigenous peoples; and, b) the contextualization of faith in Indigenous contexts;

• Facilitates the development and implementation of Indigenous learning styles and “world views” in written work and publications;

• Facilitates the development of theological partnerships with other cultural communities of following the Jesus Way of faith to explore intercultural expressions of that faith; Is committed to genuine dialogue with the historical traditions of following Jesus and values the written and living resources encompassed in these traditions.