Why Decolonize?

spiritual-emptiness“Do you know the people you come from?”

This is the one question most commonly asked by the world’s Indigenous peoples to people of European heritage. For the large majority of us in America, Europe, and elsewhere, the honest answer beyond simple genealogy is,I don’t know.”

Unfortunately, this not knowing is part of a deep disconnection that has serious consequences for ourselves and others.

Traditional Indigenous people understand this unknowing lies at the heart of the political, social, and economic systems that have caused, and continue to cause, colonization and genocide of their people as well as destruction of life on Mother Earth.

At the personal level, the lack of being rooted in a culture of place brings spiritual disconnection, shallow sense of self, and historical trauma from the lost ancestral roots and lost ways of life that shaped our physical, emotional, and spiritual health for tens of thousands of years.

People of European heritage are often called  hungry ghosts  because we don’t know ourselves. This trauma of disconnection is profound, causing us to constantly grab for anything of spiritual meaning – even if it does not belong to us.  This taking leads to cultural theft and appropriation, spiritual materialism, and the silencing of authentic native voices.  Worse, we spread this dysfunction to others, including People of Color of various origins, through the dominance of Western cultural values.

Indigenous people are asking us to heal ourselves, so we can redevelop a deeply rooted cultural identity that brings about respect for ourselves and our relatives on Mother Earth. This healing also builds the understanding necessary for us to listen with compassion and speak with integrity to Indigenous people as we begin the painful conversations necessary to grow healing between people. We must take responsibility for our past, so we can create a healthy future for all people.

In summary, decolonization is a powerful process that allows us to:

  • Re-connnect with the places we come from, and the ways of life that shaped our ancestor’s experience and continue to live hidden within ourselves;
  • Reawaken the identity of who we are in a line of people from ancient ancestors to future generations;
  • Restore a sacred way of life through relationships with the animals, plants, and other living relatives who made our lives possible;
  • Transform from allies to true relatives in anti-racist action, solidarity work, and resistance struggles of Indigenous people and other people of color;
  • Make healing of historic traumas possible for ourselves, and for Indigenous people who suffer from colonization and genocide.


  1. I believe we are all related in one way or another. People traveled long distances to find food, shelter, etc. Some lived with other people and cultures, women, men, it didn’t matter. We were all humans striving for survival on this Earth thousands of years ago. White men had children with black slaves. Whites and blacks lived in the same areas and there were multi-racial children born. The same goes for other cultures. We mixed races over many years, and we are still doing this. We are all brothers and sisters. God makes no mistakes. He put us all on this Earth to live and thrive together. We all look different, skin color, hair color, eye color, facial differences, accents, habits, religions, beliefs. Just like the animals are different, the birds, the fish, bears, fox…different shapes, sizes, defense systems. Carnivore, Herbivore, Vegetarian. We are all unique in our own way. If we are to survive on this planet we must learn to live together, work together, accept each other, respect each other and love each other. We all have our differences but that is what makes us unique. We don’t always have to agree on everything but we can accept and respect our differences. No one is better than the other.. we all need food, water and air to survive. We are Humans…all of us…..on this planet Earth. We need each other…children, youth, teens, elders, healthy, unhealthy, rich, poor etc. Rather we like it or not, that is how life goes. Lets open our hearts and our minds to our fellow sisters and brothers and make this world a better place….for all mankind.

    1. I agree with your sentiment, that finding commonality is a vital thing, however I would strongly caution you to think carefully about some of what you have stated here. You mention white men “having children with” black slaves. I know the internet is not the best medium for conveying tone or nuance, but I feel it is important to voice that this “having children with” was part of a degrading and dehumanizing breeding program by slave owners, and this was accomplished through systematic rape. This is not in any way a “neutral” statement, and this is a source of deep and raw pain and ancestral wounding for a number of my friends. I respectfully request that you be mindful of your words.

  2. The question that I have is when does one become indigenous? There are people who moved to various places 100 years ago, 200 years, etc. At what stage does one become indigenous? For me, my ancestors came from northern Europe, 100 years ago. I have no real affinity for THEIR homeland, I feel American. My culture is and has been shaped by this country. Do I understand my lineage? Of course, but it is far less important to me than understanding the wonderfulness that is the U.S.

    1. I suggest it may be wise to reconsider the “wonderfulness of the U.S.” given its ongoing genocidal policies and actions against Indigenous peoples and people of color and its abysmal human rights record as a nation state imposed on top of hundreds of existing Indigenous nations. For starters…

      1. I think they may be referring to its people, not the nation state.

        Also, I think the question of indigeneity can be contentious when you consider that indigenous occupation of territory has never been static. Take for instance St Lawrence Iroquois, a heterogeneous but distinct group of tribes who met Jacques Cartier in 1535 by disappeared by 1580. Not to mention the Haudenoseuonee (who the St Lawerence Iroquois are unrelated to, who pushed for territorial gains during the Beaver Wars and French & Indian Wars. The Lakota territories were also historically based around the Great Lakes and were later pushed towards the Great Plains they have been renowned to occupy.

  3. Not American (I am mixed race, from Aotearoa/New Zealand), but I do legitimately believe that settler identities can co-exist with indigenous societies. Early relationships between Māori and Europeans were based on mutual aid and cooperation. same goes for the French and Algonquin and Wyandot peoples. The Europeans had material objects of value that the indigenous peoples desired, such as knives, firearms, pots, chisels, potatoes, nails, hatchets etc, and the indigenous peoples offered hospitality and resources and exchange. The fur trade by the French was built on this interdependent relationship where the Europeans integrated into or adapted to indigenous ways. While I am admittedly new to studying American history, it occurs to me that the colony of New France was the better example of settler indigenous relations.

    “With its small white population and emphasis on the fur trade rather than agricultural settlement, the viability of New France depended on friendly relations with local Indians. The French prided themselves on adopting a more humane policy than their imperial rivals. “Only our nation,” declared one French writer, “knows the secret of winning the Indians’ affection.” Lacking the voracious appetite for land of the English colonies and relying on Indians to supply furs to trading posts, the French worked out a complex series of military, commercial, and diplomatic connections, the most enduring alliances between Indians and settlers in colonial North America. They neither appropriated substantial amounts of Indian land, like the English, nor conquered native inhabitants militarily and set them to forced labor, like the Spanish. Samuel de Champlain, the intrepid explorer who dominated the early history of New France, insisted on religious toleration for all Christians and denied that Native Americans were intellectually or culturally inferior to Europeans—two positions that were unusual for his time.”

    – Erenow.net

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