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Wheaton Rewords Plaque Calling Indigenous People ‘Savage’

May 26, 2021

Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian college in Illinois, will reword a plaque that refers to Indigenous people as “savage Indians,” Religion News Service reported. The plaque honors a group of missionaries, including several Wheaton alumni, who were killed in 1956 while proselytizing to the Waorani people in Ecuador. The plaque, which hangs in the college chapel, was given to the college in 1957.

“In the 64 years since the College received this gift, we have continued to grow in our understanding of how to show God’s love and respect to people from every culture,” Wheaton president Philip Ryken said in a written statement. “We have also learned much more about God’s ongoing work among the Waorani. We welcome this opportunity to ensure that we tell this unforgettable story in ways that reflect the full dignity of people made in the image of God.”

The current plaque reads, “For generations, all strangers were killed by these savage Indians.”

The revised wording does not include the word "savage." The revised wording says, in part, “God called them to the rainforest of Ecuador and the Waorani, a people who had never heard the gospel message. Known for their violence to encroaching outsiders and for internal cycles of vengeance killing, they were among the most feared indigenous peoples in South America at the time.”

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