Colonization is the process of invading and converting the sovereign life of a place, usually through force. What colonization cannot convert to its desires, it will attempt to contain, imprison, and ultimately destroy.
While colonization takes many destructive forms and is expressed in complex ways across generations and peoples, it can also be viewed in a more straightforward way. In this case, what is the mechanism of colonization doing to life?
To get to the heart of this understanding, we benefit by exploring the significance of sovereign life in a place, specifically the idea of life being exactly what it is.
Life being exactly what it is can be known through it’s relationship to self and to other forms of life. When life is being exactly what it is, spiritual wholeness (health), balance, connection, togetherness, and freedom are maintained.
For example, a lion being exactly what it is only kills what it can eat, and that which it does not eat is shared with other animals, plants, and the land in a process that furthers abundance. Another example can be seen when populations of an animal or plant grow too large, and other life puts the population back into balance. Sometimes these processes are slow, and sometimes they are explosively fast. But wholeness and balance are naturally returned.
Through this interdependence, beautiful and complex relationships of togetherness are created between life. These interdependent relationships are sometimes referred to as the “Circle of Life”. Within this circle, life is naturally free and sovereign.
In a natural ecosystem, even parasites and viruses are kept in balance by other life. Sadly, human people are the only organisms that reject these understandings.
Once outside the beautiful relationships in the circle of life, humans lose spiritual wholeness, balance, and connection. Movements of colonization become inevitable, in part, because we are seeking out the lost parts of ourselves in other lands and people. But we are deluded, we cannot conquer or settle our way back into wholeness. The genocide of other people and lifeforms that remind us of our loss will not make the pain go away. We just get sicker.
Colonization cannot, by its definition, accept life being exactly what it is. Colonization must convert life for it’s own desires and uses. When life resists colonization, it is fenced, imprisoned, locked in zoos, put on reservations, forcefully assimilated into rigid belief systems and identities, domesticated, raped, tortured, or simply killed.
For people of European heritage, the traumatic impacts of our own colonization are deep – several thousand years for some of us. We also live with the trauma of the colonization our people have imposed on others. In order to decolonize ourselves and heal this profound historic trauma we must remember what it means to live within the circle of life, and be exactly what we are. The gifts and understandings that allow for this deep healing reside there.
Remember, we can recognize life being exactly what it is by its relationships to self, and to other life forms. For us as individuals, we can recognize when we are becoming exactly what we are by:
- One’s way of being (living) is in relationship with the Original Instructions of a place communicated through language, story, ceremony, and other forms of a cultural lifeway.
- Where we are is in harmonious relationship with who we are and where we come from.
- Love, balance, and wholeness are recovered and maintained through self-healing and healing relationships with other people and lifeforms (Relatives).
- We are in relationship with Ancestors and Relatives, and they are active and present.
- Recovering relationships brings about intuitive knowledge received through dreams or visions, and reflected back (verified) from other forms of life.
- Love for one’s self and all life is actively expressed in the world.
- One’s natural gifts manifest in the world and are free to be explored and developed within oneself and in relationship to others.
Becoming exactly what we are is a natural result of the healing brought about by deep movements of decolonization. Becoming what we naturally are allows us to develop our gifts and share them with other people and with life. As we turn towards life, we make ourselves a more receptive space for life to turn towards us. Returning to these interdependent relationships, we become part of the Circle of Life once more.