We know how it can seem daunting to start your decolonization journey, trying to figure out how you can decolonize your life piece by piece & just simply not knowing where to start. But, we also know how important and detrimental it is for our people to decolonize, learn about decolonization, what that means and how we can go about achieving it. With all this in mind, we've created a Starter Kit To Decolonization featuring 5 Ways To Decolonize in hopes that it will help with our individual & collective journey's towards decolonization.
- Everything starts with Land. Indigenous People know the beauty, strength and power in the Land and all that she has to offer. We also know that we have nothing to offer her and have only offered her harm and hurt: We need Mother Earth, Mother Earth does not need us. She sustains all living things, she is the home for all of Creation. So when we start our Decolonization Journey, first we start with Land. This can come in different forms such as the following:
+Learning the Indigenous Nations that the land you're living and working on was stolen from, the Treaty (or Treaties if there are multiple) of the territory and land you live on, how those Treaties came to be signed, the (usually horrific) tactics used by the British Crown and Canadian Governments in order to acquire the Indigenous leaders' signatures on those Treaties, the reserve that the Indigenous Nation(s) was put on in order to make room for settlers to occupy the Native's traditional territory and extract whatever they possibly could from that land, find out what promises were made within the Treaty to that Indigenous Nation and than research if those promises have been fulfilled or if those promises have long been ignored and forgotten by the Canadian Government (but have not been ignored nor forgotten by the Indigenous Nation(s), but typically the fight for Treaty rights and promises to be honoured and acted upon by the Gov. is a long and daunting fight).
All of this can be done by using the Native Maps website and app.
A visual of the Native Maps app
You input the city/land you live on, and it'll tell you which Indigenous Nation(s) called this land home and the Indigenous Nation(s) that land was stolen from.
Once you know the Indigenous Nation, it'll be easy to research the rest; what is the reserve called that this Indigenous Nation was forced onto and what year was their land taken from them, what Treaty did they sign and what is the Treaty(ies) of the land you live on and the year that Treaty was signed, and so on. You have to put in a little work in order to get all these answers, but Decolonization takes work, after hundreds of years of Colonialism forced upon us, it wont be easy to Decolonize but it sure will be worth it, for ourselves, for our children, our grandchildren, for our ancestors, and the next 7 generations to come.
Nikosis Bear out on the land with his Momma, Casey Desjarlais
+Lastly, something I personally feel is important when it comes to land and decolonization is getting to know the land you live on. Getting to know the animals, the plants, the sounds and smells, getting familiar with and connecting to, the land, and our other-than human relations that occupy and call this the land home. Learn and appreciate the beauty of the land you live on! When you start to spend time on the land, when you start to truly connect with it and become familiar with all the species of plant and animals that call that land home. You start to gain this incredible respect for the land, for Mother Earth, and with that we start to go back to our first initial teaching from Creator: 'Walk lightly upon the earth and take only what you need from the earth, dont take anymore than what you need and make sure to leave some for the rest of our relations, human and other than human and for our next 7 generations'. Indigneous People come from the land, we are the land, without the land we would be nothing.
Ogichida Millar Quintanilla out on the land in the city with his Momma, Bee Millar
In one of our Creation stories, Creator made Indigenous People from the soil of the Earth. I know if you're a city ndn like myself, it came seem a bit harder to connect with the land, but, I promise you don't need a whole forest or anything of that sort. Even just simply your backyard or a public park, works. As long as there are plants, trees, and our other than human relations such as birds and squirrels, than you're all good to go! Head outside and connect with our beautiful Mother Earth and all that she has to offer on the particular land in which you live on.
After Land, the next start to Decolonization comes with the proper education and knowledge of the true history of this land, the current issues Indigenous People are currently facing, how we can fight back for our people and our land. Knowledge is the strongest, and deadliest weapon, our people have always been aware of this. In order to properly decolonize, you need to fully understand what decolonize means, what we need to decolonize from and why, the effects colonization has had on Indigenous Peoples throughout Turtle Island from the past as well as the present. The harm and hurt caused by colonization is on going, people seem the think colonization only hurt us back when 'we lived in teepees' (insert eye roll here) but thats far from true, the harm and hurt from colonization and the horrific impacts its had on our people is an every day struggle that we're still dealing with to this day.
Here are a few online resources available to educate yourself:
-National Inquiry into MMIWG Final Report and Calls for Justice
Calls for Justice:
-Land Back: Yellowhead Institute's Red Paper
-UNDRIP, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
-Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Final Report and Calls to Action
Calls to Action:
Free Online 'Indigenous Canada' Course by the University of Alberta with professors Tracy Bear & Dr. Paul L. Gareau provided by Coursea
+Once you've become familiar with the Final Reports & Calls to Action/Justice from the MMIWG Final Report Commission, start implementing the calls to action & justice into your every day life and help spread the knowledge and awareness about the calls to action and calls to justice from both reports.
Wear your mocassins, ribbon skirts and shirts, your beadwork and your Indigenous owned brand clothing in colonized spaces, where it with pride and make it known by all that We Are Still Here.
Ogichida & Bee Millar standing out front of the Hamilton Regional Indian Friendship Centre
I know that it can be quite scary or nerve wracking if you live in the city and wear your ribbon skirts & shirts, bead work and mocs on in those public, colonized spaces. I remember the first time I wore my ribbon skirt out like that; I was walking from my apartment to the Native Centre for our monthly social, which was only about a 10 minute walk, and did I ever get all the looks and stares. At first I just wanted everyone to stop looking at me. But then, shortly after, looking down at my son Ogichida, I became proud. Proud that I was still here, proud that my existence is so in the colonizers faces when I wear my regalia in public. Its hard for them to ignore that Indigenous people are still here and not only surviving, but were thriving baby! And its hard for them to ignore or deny that while walking or driving past myself and my son while Im rocking my beads, my mocs and my ribbon skirt and my son Ogichida, with his beautiful brown skin and long hair, wearing his ribbon shirt that I made to match my ribbon skirt. Not all colonizers hate to see it, I got a lot of smiles, but the point isn't if they like it or not, the point is that I am walking on my traditional territory where my ancestors lived and hunted for time immemorial. This land may have been stolen from my people, but they didn't erase us, we're still here; walking these lands, living on these lands and raising our babies on these lands, the same lands that our ancestors also lived, worked and raised their babies
Casey Desjarlais with her women's hand drum group called Moonstone
Talk with your Elders, learn your creation story, your language, learn your songs and dances & learn the important meanings behind those songs and dances. Don't be shy if you don't have a 'good' singing voice or if you dance off beat, the ancestors dont care about that and neither should any of our current living relations. What matters is the act of singing and dancing itself. What matters is Mother Earth feeling your foot steps as you dance, it's the feeling of the drum that goes through you and becomes apart of you while dancing and singing, it's dancing to and singing these songs that our ancestors sung or that honour our ancestors, honour our waters, our lands, our other-than human relations, honour Grandmother Moon and Elder Brother Sun, honour our Creator and all of Creation.
Bee Millar sending out prayers before dancing at a MMIWG Vigil on (cancel) Canada Day 2020
Talking with your Elder's, and learning the creation story of your people are just as important as everything else mentioned within this list. Our Elder's hold all the knowledge and wisdom needed to sustain us, they are the keepers of knowledge, our teachings, our stories and our good medicine. Elder's are who have held our people up, fought tirelessly so that we may live the lives were living today, and so that our children, grand children and the next 7 generations will live in a world better than the world our Elder's grew up in, a world that is accepting of Native's, a world where we are safe. It is now our turn to hold our Elder's up, hold them up, learn from them, take care of them, show them the immense love and gratitude we have for them. Because they deserve it, because they do and have done the same for us, because without our Elder's, we wouldnt be here, we wouldnt have all the opportunities that we have today as Indigenous People, we wouldnt have the basic human rights, decency and respect that we have today. There is still a lot of work to do, but our Elders truly helped pave the way for us. Our Elder's are the main reason we are even able to start our Decolonization Journey's to begin with.
Ogichida & Bee Millar with Mohawk, Bear Clan Elder, Tom Porter
Our Creation Stories are an important part in learning who you are as an Indigenous person from that particular nation. Your creation story is a fundamental place to start while learning how to Decolonize, learning who you are and learning what is asked of you in life as an Indigenous person, it helps you learn and connect with your ancestors in a different way than reading history books about our people.
+For Non Natives, I still suggest learning the Creation story of the Nation(s) of Indigenous People that the land you live on was stolen from. If you did what was mentioned in tip #1 and researched who the Nation of Indigenous Peoples is thats traditional land in which you live, work and play upon, than this shouldn't be too hard. And of course, it is expected of you to treat our Elder's with immense love, respect and care.
Casey Desjarlais dancing Women's Fancy Shawl
Supporting Indigenous Owned Brands, Artist's, Creators, Photographers, Designers, Entrepreneurs, Beader's, Sewers & Seamstresses, Sports Team's. Reading Indigenous Literatures, listening to Indigenous artists, musician's & podcasts. Donating to Indigenous organization's, charities, resistance, land and water protector camp's, grass root's, movement's & initiative's.
Decolonial Clothing Co's latest drop: The Warrior Collection
We spend our whole live's spending our money on or conceive our time indulging in, everything sold, distributed, produced, made & created by, non Natives. It's easier than ever before to be able to support & spend our money on our fellow Indigenous relations. With social media, you now can find an Indigenous owned brand that has pretty every product you already use in your daily routines. From laundry soap to every makeup product & tool you'd every need in your makeup routine, coffee & maple syrup, Indigenous owned clothes fitted head to toe, custom Kokom scarf vans, Nikes, Jordans, Converse & Kokom scarf scrunchies. Mouse pads, shower curtains, candles, kids toys; Im tellin ya, there's an Indigenous product for everything, you just have to find it. Instagram and Facebook are 2 really good resources in order to find these brands, as well as every category mentioned above. The online Indigenous community has had some, lets say, issues with the social media platforms, but other than that, it's a great source for finding these Indigenous relations to support as well as connecting with our Indigenous relations that aren't necassarly on social media as a creator but as a supporter and someone that just wanted to be on Instagram to connect. I've personally found and connected with some niijii's - friend's through social media that are now incredibly important to me and relations that I consider as family.
And with that, we are at the end of the 5 Ways to Decolonize! We hope everyone enjoy the post and that this helps get started or even continue your journey towards Decolonization. Miigwetch, Tiawehnk
-Bee Millar; @atribecalledbeauty