As settlers on stolen lands, how do we navigate the complicated path of helping to heal the destruction and pain caused by our people’s colonization of other’s lands like Turtle Island, while also doing what is necessary to heal the source of this colonization which is our own broken relationships of culture with our ancestral places, peoples, and lifeways?
The following list provides six critical actions for walking this complicated path. Three of these actions are centered on aiding the decolonization of Turtle Island and other lands by their Indigenous peoples. Three other actions are focused on creating real and meaningful connection and healing with our own ancestral peoples and places.
Three Settler Actions to Support Indigenous Decolonization
1) Return Indigenous lands, access, and resources back to Indigenous peoples so that Indigenous lifeway can be lived through real independence, and allowing for Indigenous peoples to heal themselves using their own cultural understandings. Land and resources should be returned to traditional, language speaking peoples if they are available – not those complicit with colonial governments or their tribal surrogates (like U.S. BIA Tribal Governments).
2) Transform settler positioning: through
a) Return or immigrate back to one’s ancestral homeplace/s; or,
b) Develop long-term, trust building relationships with Indigenous peoples. Based on these relationships, following Indigenous direction including submitting to, and defending, Indigenous jurisdiction and strategically leaving colonial citizenship and jurisdiction.
It should be noted b) applies to all non-Native people, not just people of european heritage.
3) Leave Indigenous people alone – and strategically defend their right to be left alone.
Three Settler Actions for Our Own Cultural Recovery
1) Go home. Establish authentic relationships with Life in natural places in your home. Relationships with Life are based in Indigenous language, so….
2) Learn your ancestral language. Indigenous language is the primary transformer of consciousness from euro-centric thought and philosophy to Indigenous thought and philosophy. This step cannot be ignored, evaded, or explained away. Learn your language!
3) Re-unite or re-join your people. We must transform the consciousness of colonial “I” to the Indigenous “We” by reuniting or rejoining our people/s in europe. Authentic decolonization and cultural recovery cannot occur within the colonial egotism of “I”. It just doesn’t work that way. This is different than being the sole survivor of a people and working to grow one’s people again.
In the author’s experiences involving both the decolonization of Turtle Island and the cultural recovery for people of euro-heritage, multiple actions from both lists occur simultaneously and strengthen each other. Other people of european heritage share the same experience – the building of authentic relationships with Indigenous people in resistance provides important experiential growth and motivation to recovering one’s own cultural identity.