I appreciate this quote from the “Decolonizing Quakers” website: “the decolonizing that needs to take place, both the educating and the healing, are matters of urgency to the survival of the human species and the health of the Earth as Mother of us All.” There are many resources available for education, but I hadn’t seen much about healing. As I’ve begun to research this, I can already see this is a complex and difficult subject. I hope you’ll bear with me as I try to learn about this. This quote, referenced below, expresses why I am anxious to learn about healing: “when we center healing, we remember that our struggles for social justice are not just about opposing things we do not like, but building the world we would actually like to live in.“ Decolonizing Trauma by Andrea Smith, Sojourners, 9/19/2016
The following comes from Paula Palmer’s resource kit, which provides a great deal of excellent information related to how we move “toward right relationships with Native people”. The resource kit is available here: http://www.boulderfriendsmeeting.org/wp-content/friends9x4Q/2013/06/RESOURCE-KIT-10-1-16.pdf
In his lectures and his new book, In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Pawnee attorney, Walter Echo-Hawk, draws on many wisdom traditions to offer these five steps toward healing when wrongdoing has occurred and people have been injured by it:
1. Recognize that harm has been done: acknowledge that injury or harm has taken place
2. A real apology is sincerely made and forgiveness requested: the person or institution that harmed another apologizes in a sincere and appropriate way, admits the specific harmful actions they have committed, and asks for forgiveness
3. Accepting the apology and forgiving the wrongdoer: the harmed person or community accepts the apology and forgives
4. Acts of atonement; the process of making things right: the parties agree on voluntary acts of atonement by the wrongdoer that will wipe the slate clean
5. Healing and reconciliation: the atonement acts are carried out in a process that fosters justice and compassion and genuine friendship
Walter Echo-Hawk says completing these steps may take years, decades, or centuries. The important thing is to start with the first step: acknowledge the harm, and commit to working through the next steps toward healing. It is important to take as much time as necessary, involving all the stakeholders, achieving Unity, in order to complete each step. In chapter 10 of his book, Echo-Hawk describes these steps in detail, and explains how the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples opens a path toward national healing.
Also from the Resource Kit:
Films about reconciliation and healing:
“Dakota 38+2,” watch it online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pX6FBSUyQI (1 hour and 18 minutes)
“Two Rivers,” see information about it at: http://www.tworiversfilm.com/
Organizations and Resources:
Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission: http://www.mainetribaltrc.org/
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition: www.boardingschoolhealing.org
Native American Rights Fund, “Let All That is Indian Within You Die,” http://www.narf.org/pubs/nlr/nlr38-2.pdf
Boarding School Healing Project, http://www.boardingschoolhealingproject.org/
I’ve watched the video “Dakota 38 + 2” several times. The story is deeply moving and the photography is excellent.
These movements have demonstrated that historical trauma impacts us on the individual and collective level. We cannot decolonize without centering the impact of trauma in our organizing. Rather than privatize our traumas, how can we rearticulate trauma as place from which to develop what Million calls “felt theory” – a place from which to understand our social and political conditions?Decolonizing Trauma by Andrea Smith, Sojourners, 9/19/2016
Many organizing practices we develop will be co-opted in order individualize and domesticate their potential impact on movement-building. But this reality should not make us lose sight of our larger vision of building holistic movements for justice. In the end, the questions we are left with include: What are the organizing practices and strategies for building movements that recognize that settler colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy have not left us unscathed? How do we create spaces to experiment with different strategies, as well as spaces to openly assess and change these strategies as they inevitably become co-opted? How do we create movements that make us collectively accountable for healing from individual and collective trauma? How do we collectively reduce harm in our intellectual and political spaces? And finally, how can we build healing movements for liberation that can include us as we actually are rather than as the peoples we are supposed to be?
In addition, when we center healing, we remember that our struggles for social justice are not just about opposing things we do not like, but building the world we would actually like to live in. So many people do not join the hard work of organizing because they see only what they might lose and not what they would gain in world without oppression. That’s why the process is as important as our goal of social justice. Instead of waiting for the infinitely deferred “revolution,” we can start living the revolution now so people can have a taste of what a better world can be.