As a student of the academy at a research one institution, I have the privilege of working with some great people. I have colleagues from throughout the country and a couple who are indigenous from Mexico and Southern California. I’m proud of each one of my colleagues for embarking on this journey which is not an easy feat. This semester we are taking a colonization, globalization, and decolonization course that has already proven to blow my mind. It’s tremendous.
With key words such as imperialism, empire, colonization, and decolonization in our weekly discussions, I’m sharing more than I have before in previous courses. I’ve also learned there are times when I’m not going to “get it” nor am I going to “get it” right away. I’m one of those learners who takes their time and processes after reading additional materials. After last week’s class readings on colonization; I was overwhelmed. It was the thought of unlearning four generations of colonization that overwhelmed me. I was also grossed out. I wasn’t grossed out at the thought of what a decolonized society would look like, I was grossed out at the mere thought of how much we as indigenous people have been saturated in a colonized world.
An ugly word came up, you all may know this word and hear it enough time that it may gross you out too, for me assimilation is gross. It reminds me of how much I take for granted and forget about the journey my Diné ancestors suffered during the Long Walk and my Nimiipuu ancestors who fought AND died in the Nez Perce War of 1877. I also tend to forget and take for granted that I have Lenape ancestors who emigrated out west during the Fur Trade era and fought in the Bear Flag Revolt, the Civil War (the Union side), AND the Nez Perce War all in the name of decolonization and anti-assimilation.
As I started to dig deep, I was overwhelmed. How could so much rich cultural knowledge and history be overlooked in the many text books that are published for public schools system today? As an education major I started looking through the textbooks from 17 years ago when I first embarked on this educational journey that is still going full steam ahead. They’re not any different, maybe an edition or two for the history books, but nothing new or substantive has been introduced. Why is that? It’s no wonder why I couldn’t begin to conceptualize a decolonized state without thinking about what I needed to do to unlearn what I have been taught since birth.
It made me think about a statement my daughter made recently after ceremony in which she declared in her most frustrated voice, “I don’t want to live in two worlds! It doesn’t make sense and I just want to live in a Native world. And why does it have to be so complicated and such a big deal?!” In that moment I realized I have been trained to think as the colonized. My kid had figured out the system earlier than I had and it made me question my education. How is it that she “got it” sooner than I had? Took me a while to answer that question, as I think about what raising socially conscious children means, I hope what I have been teaching truly does influence her to further unlearn the colonized world view of what it means. We don’t have to walk in two worlds to be Native.
In my own subtle ways and through participating in ceremonies where we are taught certain lessons. The sooner our children hear these stories and explanations, the sooner they learn that being indigenous has some pretty amazing influences inside the classroom too.
Just my blog thoughts out loud.