Week Seven — Decolonization and the
Wisdom of Indigenous Teachings
We have spent the past six weeks exploring the generational trauma our nation has inherited from slavery in all of its forms. Now it is time for us to turn our eyes to seeing and understanding the violent genocide our ancestors inflicted on indigenous peoples as we stole their land and attempted to erase their customs and spiritual practices in policies of relocation and forced assimilation.
Our materials this week point us to a deeper understanding of how white supremacy is embedded in settler colonialism and what we must do to decolonize our ways of being. One cannot learn more about indigenous world views without being invited into a deeper relationship with Great Spirit and the animacy and wisdom of the natural world to guide us on our path.
“The work of recovering and redefining spirituality is central to decolonization.” Do you have spiritual practices? What are they? How do your spiritual practices connect you to your justice work? How would you be different if you understood that Mother Earth radically loves you? What changes in consumption and behaviors can you make to reciprocate that love? Make note of your relationship with reciprocity and responsibilities versus rights. Practice your own version of The Thanksgiving Address this week and come prepared to report what you observe about yourself and your relationship to gratitude and spirit.
Towards Decolonization and Settler Responsibility: Reflections on a Decade of Indigenous Solidarity Organizing by Liza Minno Bloom for CounterPunch
Introduction chapter to the book An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Excerpts from the book Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change by Sherri Mitchell (Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset (She Who Brings The Light): Chapter 4 — How We Got Here and Chapter 8 — Decolonizing
A Love Letter From Mother Earth by Heather Mizeur for Soul Force Politics
Add these books to your reading list — they are worth exploring in their entirety, not just sample chapters
Robin Wall Kimmerer reads from the Chapter on “Allegiance to Gratitude” from her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. This chapter reflects on the ways that Native communities are rooted in cultures of gratitude with the natural world. The Haudenosaunee (also known as Iroquois) lead all gatherings with The Thanksgiving Address, “a river of words as old as the people themselves, known more accurately in the Onondaga language as the Words That Come Before All Else. This ancient order of protocol sets gratitude as the highest priority. The gratitude is directed straight to the ones who share their gifts with the world.”
TED Talk by Tara Houska: “The Standing Rock resistance and our fight for indigenous rights” (11 minutes)