More for 2022
I wish for more thought, labor, and resources from nontribal people towards decolonizing in 2022.
A couple of weeks ago I emailed Draft Steps for Decolonizing and asked for your feedback. Today I share some of the responses, beginning with what two tribal women from the Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR) had to say. I am humbled by their taking time to respond because I know how busy each of them is. I am thankful to them for sharing their knowledge and wisdom.
Thoughts from one Native woman WRIR:
There needs to be a curriculum created to educate programs, institutions, and organizations on diversity training for inclusion, … and with diversity training for all created by white and Native voices.
Thoughts from another Native woman from the WRIR:
May we add: Understanding that decolonization in the church is also vital to Indigenous healing? I have been talking more and more about this with other Indigenous Christians. It's a hard conversation to have because a good portion of our family or friends hate the church due to colonization. I do my best to convey the message was not evil, but messengers were, and God and the Holy Spirit was NOT in their efforts. Throughout history, we see people utilize the church and the cross to push their political and genocidal agendas. Discussing the evil of what men did in the name of God and teaching who God really is, even with scripture is healing. Colonization through the Church is what keeps most Native Americans away from the church.
I was taught to do ministry in the streets, so when I was active in outreach to tribes, I would pray for people at pow wows, gas stations or anyone God would put in my path. There's a lot of people who will never step inside a church, so you have to bring God to them. It's also damaging when white Christians plant churches on the rez and not cultivate or have other Indigenous church leaders. I believe any church on the Rez should be led by Native Christian church leaders, because they will have to do a lot of decolonizing of the church, discuss the genocidal history of the church and how Jesus didn't have blonde hair and blue eyes.
I mention this to draw out that perhaps one of the first steps of decolonization is addressing what the church did to advance colonization. I always say, “We must reveal, if we want to heal,” and this is one topic everyone shies away from, especially with more and more children's bodies being found from the boarding school era. Addressing this one issue will in parallel address other items on this list.
Thoughts from a white male who lives in Casper had much to do with vocabulary, which points out a problem that we have with the decolonizing process. We may lack the language for it. So perhaps literacy development and training will need to be included within the steps.
Whether it is his understanding or resistance, I appreciate his pointing out the areas of concern for him, as this can help us develop a more meaningful process and meeting people where they are. For the sake of conciseness, I will not list all his thoughts, but name some of what he raised up needing more clarity for him. These are:
- White privilege and whether it should include all white people or only those who are white supremacists.
- Meaning of “Center those who suffer the most from oppression” is unclear. He suggests, “Help and include” instead of “Center.”
- How would financial reparation work in a way that would not create more dependency?
- Instead of “Make amends to those we and our ancestors have harmed, say "Make amends to those who were harmed by the dominant culture."
- For “Understand how current systems protect and perpetuate colonization,” "colonization" may not be clear in the context of the present. How about "inequality and oppression?"
- When using the term “abolition,” say what is to be abolished.
- Making abolition and decolonization a “continuing practice,” should be included within some of the other steps instead of a separate step.
A white woman from Lander wrote, “I notice that people are becoming more apathetic these days than ever before. I've read some articles and data and viewed lectures on why that is. I'm not religious but I do function according to the principle "to the least of my brethren..."
I hope that the desire for justice reigns over apathy. Let’s listen to the voices of Indigenous people and learn, act, and practice.
Fear not. Be bold. Build relationships. Be humble. Do justice.