In creating a path towards decolonization and the regeneration of Indigenous peoples and their communities, there are a few concrete steps that can be taken. These steps are significant in that they allow for greater self-determination and a return to a more focused and indigenous way of being, derived from the experience of countless people working for positive change across the world.
Only by taking our own present and future into our own hands can we create an authentic existence out of the mess created by colonial dispossession and disruption. Below are the essentials of decolonization:
Reclaiming The Land
Indigenous people must reconnect with the physical and cultural geography of their heritage and their history if they are to fully understand the teachings and values of their ancestors.
The connection to the land, and to how it shaped our cultures, is the foundation from which we draw our strength and our sustenance independent of colonial power.
It is only from the land where we can truly regenerate our nations and create an authentic, autonomous, Indigenous existence.
Reclaiming the Language
Indigenous people must recover our languages as the foundation for re-establishing Indigenous ways of knowing and relating to each other outside the mental and ideational framework of colonialism.
Language puts the world into perspective and allows an interpretation free of the limitations of colonialist words. Words matter!
Overcoming our Fears
Indigenous people must transcend the controlling power and the fear factors used by colonial powers to dominate and manipulate us into complacency and cooperation with its authorities.
Things like blood quantum, disenrollment, threatened loss of Indigenous status, and reduction in funding are all ways that colonialism seeks to control Indigenous people.
The only way to rise above this is to confront our fears head-on through a return to Indigenous ways of identifying who belongs to our community, greater self-determination and sovereignty, and self-reliance rather than dependence.
For far too long, Indigenous people have relied on the colonial powers to provide us with the means for our everyday lives.
Our people must regain the self-sufficient capacity to provide our own food, clothing, housing, and medicines. We can return to our traditional diets through food sovereignty programs; we can create culturally-appropriate clothing and fashion; we can build better homes for our people using indigenous knowledge; and we can heal ourselves with traditional medicines that our ancestors knew and used to stay healthy.
Stop the Hate - Collaborate!
Indigenous people must reconstitute the mentoring and learning relationships that existed in our communities, with the elders teaching the youth information that creates real learning and breaks the cycles of dependency that plagues our people.
Those who can lead with honor should step forward and we should not hold them back due to jealousy, nepotism, or hate, but instead should support them with solidarity and strength. The movement toward decolonization and revitalization will emanate from transformations achieved by people working together in a collaborative manner towards a set of common goals established by the community and ALL of its members.
Only in this way can we achieve a new future and a new path for our people!
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities