Forgiveness and Healing

Last June I attended a three-day Midwest Peacemaking Conference in Manistee, MI sponsored by the
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Tribal Court. A double break-out session, facilitated by Barry
Lee Burnside, treated the topic of Forgiveness. The participants in this session were diverse and
included several tribunal judges who use Restorative Justice in their practice.

We were given a handout,” ‘Forgiveness’ as Defined by Scientific Researchers and Contemporary Thinkers”
(see attached) to select the definition that best described our view of Forgiveness. The surprise to me was the
diversity around the definition of Forgiveness in the group. A bigger surprise was to learn that in the Native
American language there is no word for “Forgiveness”! At that point I began to question the difference
between “Forgiveness” and “Healing”: Which comes first?; Does one have to be forgiven before being
healed?; or does “Healing” lead to forgiveness?; Is each independent of the other?; Can one heal and not

I welcome your insights, knowledge, and experience on this.


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