Avoiding Recolonization While Decolonizing
One of the biggest challenges people of european heritage face as we are called to engage in decolonizing and reawakening movements of life, is to maintain awareness of how we do things. What are we really creating as we decolonize? Are we authentically connecting to life and healing ourselves, or are we doing something else?
As we decolonize, it is so easy to take the beautiful understandings that we learn, and then process them, use them, convert them – back into colonized thought forms – into colonized acts. We re-colonize ourselves. These acts might look like:
- BOLSTERING INDIVIDUAL EGO to prove we are special or unique. For example: “Because I had a strong vision or spiritual experience, I must be a shaman.” Having a strong dream, vision, or experience doesn’t make you shaman – it means you are alive.
- FILTERING AND TWISTING INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE like dreams and visions into colonized forms. One example of this might sound like. “I had a dream about the Lakota people, therefore I should adopt Lakota culture and spirituality.” Without the ancestral knowledge to interpret dreams, we twist their meanings into some pretty silly things. This is one reason why decolonization must involve communities of people, so we can help each other limit detours and dead-ends.
- CREATING ‘SYSTEMS’ THAT PACKAGE AND COMMODIFY living, intuitive knowledge into colonized teaching systems. You can see an example of this with this workshop: Ancestral Legacy & Personal Healing Workshop…Cost: $90- $144 per day. This website is apparently the result of a fairly popular “recovery of the Indigenous mind” program. Clearly, something wasn’t recovered.
- COMMODIFYING SACRED KNOWLEDGE, relationships, and life forms. Examples of this include selling ceremony, healing, or spiritual knowledge. These kind of sacred understandings do not belong to us. We borrow them from our ancestors and relatives to share freely with others, not turn them into careers or money making ventures. Do you really believe your ancestors want their knowledge shared only with those privileged and wealthy enough to afford it?
- CLAIMING SETTLER NATIVISM through the shallow belief one may recover enough Indigenous-ness to earn the entitlement of living on stolen Native lands in America (or elsewhere) without dispute. This may arise when people seek to reclaim an “Indigenous mind”, learn a level of “primative” or wilderness skills, seek neo-tribalism, or learn their ancestry without connecting those ancestors to a home place and way of life. An example of this might sound like, “I live wild with primative skills in the woods of Oregon and feel connected here. I deserve to be here.” These kinds of attitudes merely perpetuate colonization and resettlement. We can do better.
As decolonizing people of European heritage, we benefit by holding each other accountable with compassion and understanding so these shallow movements that lead to re-colonization, resettlement, appropriation, and commodication can be addressed.
We also have a responsibility to the Indigenous people of the Americas, Australia, Afrika, etc. to hold our own accountable when they behave in harmful ways so Native people don’t have to.
Just remember, some of the people who make these diversions are likely related to you – they are your relatives. Connecting to what’s alive means everyone counts. If we cannot help our own people grow and heal authentically into deep movements of decolonization, who will?