Narrative shift

We need to shift away from our capitalistic system to one that embraces indigenous ways of living. Not only to find answers to the dramatic failures of the current political and economic systems, but also to address the urgent need to deal with our environmental catastrophe. Seeding Sovereignty’s SHIFT the Narrative project is working to do that.

We demand an end to the colonial-capitalist economy supported by institutionalized white supremacist and heteropatriarchal systems that have devastated our lands, climate, and peoples through ceaseless resource extraction, land occupation, border imperialism, misogyny, homophobia, enslavement, and genocide. This viral pandemic is part of a much larger problem as explained by Buffalo-based media artist, Jason Livingston, who conceived this action, “The crisis began before the virus, and the crisis will continue beyond the vaccine.”  #CapitalismIsThePandemic

Seeding Sovereignty

I’ve previously written about SHIFT the Narrative, a project organized by my friend Christine Nobiss, a project of Seeding Sovereignty. A description of SHIFT the Narrative and information about the next episode can be found at the end of this.

How do White people learn about indigenous solutions? An obvious way is to hear indigenous people discussing their ideas. But where can we find opportunities for that? These online SHIFT the Narrative discussions are an excellent way. I’ve learned a great deal from these interviews. One of the most profound things I’ve personally learned as I listen to these women leaders is how it feels, for a change, to not be the gender that is in control of the conversation. As quoted above, we should demand an end to institutionalized white supremacist and heteropatriarchal systems.


This morning I was led to a definition of narrative shift which helps me understand this idea better. It was written in 2011 about education, but the principles are true today.

Narrative shift is a literary term that is used to identify the place in a story where the character actually telling the story changes. One of the most obvious advantages of the narrative shift is the change of both perspective and sense of reality that a new voice can bring to the story. Narrative shifts remind us that there are other points of view and alternative ways of looking at the same phenomenon.

When you gather passionate and dedicated voices that have become so accustomed to being spoken tospoken for and spoken about, then a different story begins to emerge.

These are not new voices in the story, but it has been a while since the telling of the story has been handed over to them. And, at this point, a full narrative shift has not taken place. What is evident from these emergent conversations, however, is that the paradigm shift for which we have longed for many years has already taken place in the hearts and minds of many of those best positioned to bring that shift to life.

These are voices that are not traditionally invited to the table but, in recent months, they are voices that have begun to build their own tables, their own conversations and their own sense of the change they would like to see. The challenge in the months and years to come is to find ways to continue the momentum created by this narrative shift. You may have your own ideas on how this might take place. Following is a list of a few of my own.

From Paradigm Shift to Narrative Shift. Who is telling the education change story? by: Stephen Hurley, EdCan Network, November 4, 2011
  • create an electronic network of organizers and participants from national EdCamps and other movements across the country
  • create a database of the questions and issues being raised at these events
  • build a library of blogs, articles and other artefacts being created as the result of initiatives
  • begin thinking about a national team of EdCamp organizers
  • invite local press and media to participate in grassroots events
  • consider scheduling events on same day, using livestreaming and conferencing software to make connections in selected sessions
  • talk about your initiative
  • write about your initiative

From Paradigm Shift to Narrative Shift. Who is telling the education change story? by: Stephen Hurley, EdCan Network, November 4, 2011


SHIFT the Narrative is a live, online interview series produced by Seeding Sovereignty that covers different aspects of Indigenous political engagement and current issues in Indian Country through interviews with expert guest speakers.

On Thursday, May 28, we will be speaking with Kali “K.O” Mequinonoag Reis and Owl. Kali, Seaconke Wampanoag and Cherokee Nations, is the first mixed Native American Female World Champion Boxer. Owl, Ramapough Munsee Lenape Nation, is an attorney working at the intersection of human rights, Indigenous rights, and the environment.

The Seaconke Wampanoag and Ramapough Munsee Lenape Nations are not federally recognized, though they are recognized by the states that engross their territories. We will discuss the ongoing fight for sovereignty with the understanding that there are many pitfalls to federal recognition but why it is necessary to protect land rights. This is an important conversation considering the current crisis the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation is facing as their land trust has been revoked during COVID-19. An important part of this discussion will delve into what it is like to be Indigenous after 400 + years of living with European and African ancestry. 

Stay ahead of the curve! Join Sikowis and S.A. as we interview expert guests every second Thursday! Conversations will surround political work in Indian Country such as getting out the vote, organizing to change policy, issues of sovereignty, running for office, and much more.


#SeedingSovereignty #CapitalismIsThePandemic


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