We are now forming a group of citizens who wish to become engaged in the work of understanding the processes and consequences of a pattern of genocidal oppression directed at the original inhabitants by our ancestors who "discovered" the land we live on and call the United States of America. (See this video documentary: The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code on Vimeo.)
To do this, we begin delving into the privilege that is conferred on white euro-centric people at birth, its consequences in the form of a virtually uninterrupted assault on indigenous culture, land, wealth, lives and living conditions that continue unabated to this day. We invite you to join us in this initial orientation and enlightenment as we 'unpack the invisible knapsack' of white privilege and the impact of colonization. Another excellent link to consider in this inner work process is White Supremacy Culture.
So we begin by focusing not on a direct study of Native American culture, but on our own. Once we have deeply immersed ourselves in this inner work, we will be more equipped with tools to take on the forces, presumptions and attitudes in our government, our institutions, and our culture; and ready to deeply appreciate the culture that has been ground under the heel of domination, and its steadfastness and endurance under that onslaught. Although we desire, long-term, to create a dialogue or partnership with local native communities, as allies, we understand that the problem to be solved is not something we will learn from native communities. This is our work to do, preparing ourselves for authentic engagement.
The oppression of Indigenous peoples of our country has often resulted in indigenous peoples seeming “invisible,” so one of our roles, even as we do this “inner work,” is to raise consciousness in the broader community.
It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, through reading books and narratives that indigenous communities themselves embrace as true stories and authentic accounts, such as An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, or Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss, both by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
For the November 2020 issue of our newsletter we began compiling a list of resources about indigenous people and topics to expand our knowledge in this learning process. We hope these resources will enlighten us all and bring to light the oppression that we have been putting on native peoples for centuries.
One of the materials that we are using to ground us is A Guide to Allyship. A second is the Onondaga-designed How to be an Ally to Indigenous People.
Something we’re becoming aware of is a practice that is becoming more widespread within non-native groups - Land Acknowledgment. While its purpose is to raise awareness, it is often marred by inaccuracy and unintended disrespect for local native people. We are learning that such acknowledgments must be offered not in a casual or “performative” way, but with true knowledge of the cultures we are acknowledging and followed by action to engage more deeply on their behalf.
Here, we offer two articles about Land Acknowledgment and what is needed to make it meaningful, respectful, accurate, and culturally sensitive.
Territory Acknowledgement - by Native Land Digital
A Guide to Indigenous Land and Territorial Acknowledgements for Cultural Institutions - by Felicia Garcia (Chumash), M.A. Museum Studies, New York University, 2018
of Western New York
As we move through challenging times of societal upheaval, we are inspired by the wisdom of Indigenous people who have been living in harmony with the earth and all creation for generations.
Here is a list of resources about Native American history and culture – especially the Haudenosaunee on whose land we live.
We honor and celebrate their presence among us and their special contributions.