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Memorial Service's Native American Prayer Confuses Some


"most peculiar"

It was an 8 minute prayer that referenced everything from Father Sky to things that "slither."

Last night's Tucson memorial service opening blessing from Native American Carlos Gonzalez had some raising their eyebrows and many scratching their heads. What exactly was it? A prayer, a blessing, a personal information session on Carlos Gonzalez? All of the above?:

Fox News Channel's Brit Hume commented on the prayer afterwards:

Certainly the mood in that auditorium suggested the sense of mournfulness that you might have expected and sobriety you might have expected was not to be found tonight. And of course I think the whole thing is attributable in part to the remarkable opening blessing that was delivered by … Carlos Gonzalez, who by the time it was over with, he had blessed the reptiles of the sea and he had prayed to the four doors of the building and while I’m sure that all has an honorable tradition with his people, with it was most peculiar.

One blogger described it this way:

As for the "ugly," I'm afraid I must cite the opening "prayer" by Native American Carlos Gonzales. It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to "the creator" but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.

But it wasn't just Gonzales's prayer that was "ugly" under the circumstances. Before he ever got to the prayer, Gonzales provided us with a mini-biography of himself and his family and made several references to Mexico, the country from which (he informed us) his family came to Arizona in the mid 19th century. I'm not sure why Gonzales felt that Mexico needed to intrude into this service, but I have an idea.

In any event, the invocation could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales.

While others supported the decision to use Gonzalez:

In a state that passed the English Only law and the more recent Senate Bill 1070, Dr. Gonzales represents the diversity Rep. Giffords embraces. He comes from a tribe that, because of an international border which now crosses their aboriginal homelands, has citizens living in villages in Mexico. His people are also tri-lingual speaking English, Spanish and some still speak Yoeme, the traditional language of the Pascua Yaqui.

So tonight it comes down to words from an aboriginal man, from a race of people who have consistently helped this nation in times of strife.

Gonzales is reportedly a doctor and professor at the University of Arizona college of medicine.

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