Dec 1, 2016

Come correct- the context of being a guest on Sovereign Oceti Sakowin lands

That was new to me, "Come correct"*...the expression made sense to me when I heard it.

It goes well with Lakota Values

I'll be processing my time at Oceti Sakowin Camp for weeks, if not months.
For now my thoughts are about how the camp was organized, based on indigenous core values.
I refer to the camp as on Oceti Sakowin lands because even though the Army Corps of Engineers claims it, if the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851was honored, it would be part of their Nation.

Of course when I lived in Central Mexico from 1971-1976, the context of colonialism was very evident to me. The social structure placed those of Spanish colonial/Hispanic heritage (or white) at the highest rung and the indigenous people at the bottom. I had interesting conversations with people who wanted to talk about the social problems in the US with Civil Rights and African American protests, who would proclaim that in Mexico, they didn't have such was as if they didn't even see how the indigenous were treated.

The paradox of Mexico, the context of  a culture so deeply steeped in colonialism was something I embraced early on.  How could you not? I studied "art history", the colonial art and architecture, but soon lost interest in those stories to dig deeper into the indigenous culture that was alive everywhere!
Nahuatl, Otomi, Totonaco people interacted with me almost daily in the markets, on the buses and in the streets. I loved how in the Colonial art and architecture you could find evidence of resistance by the indigenous craftsman building the what anthropologists called "syncretism". As a gringa and guera living in a brown world, I stuck out and got alot of attention - mostly unwanted attention in form of wolf calls, sexual innuendo, etc. It was a really interesting experience to be a racial minority, yet still representing colonialism. I am grateful to find that Oceti Sakowin Camp is educating all visitors about these themes.

DAPL lights on the Hill
We understand this moment in the context of settler colonialism
• Settler colonialism is a process of “destroying to replace.” A colonizing power exports resources and people, and seizes and settles on land, exercising violent control over the original inhabitants. Indigenous versions of governance, land management, cultural practices, etc. are destroyed through conquest, disease, land theft, and cultural genocide, and are replaced with the settler versions of those things. Settler colonialism is not an event that we can neatly box into the past, but rather a persistent form of violence that impacts every aspect of life in settler states. Settler colonialism is still happening.
• Indigenous history in the Americas is one of uninterrupted resistance to colonization, from 1492 to today. You may be unaware of this history, or not recognize the forms it takes in indigenous cultures. Be curious.
• We do this work as ourselves. We bring all of who we are and where we come from. This includes gender identity, race, class, sexual orientation, age, body/mind ability, culture and place of origin. We all have inherited historical relationships to sort out in order to become more powerful, effective and whole.
o As white allies we must figure out how to shift out of European cultural modes, unlearn and interrupt settler colonial patterns and develop anti-racist awareness and skills.
o As Non-Native People of Color we have many different historical relationships to settler colonialism and Indigenous struggles, and may have unconsciously internalized settler attitudes toward this land and indigenous people. Native leaders and scholars have asked us to recognize that although we are targeted by white supremacy, we also participate in settler colonization, and are settlers in relationship to Indigenous people.
We DECENTER settler worldviews/ practices and RECENTER Indigenous worldviews/practices and leadership
• Whiteness and Christian dominance, which are the basis of US settler identity, are built on perfectionism, superiority, purity, competition, individualism, binaries, and suppressed emotion. This impacts how we do our ally work, how we approach the tasks of dismantling oppression, and how we treat each other and ourselves. It’s hard work to recognize and abandon these familiar attitudes that don’t serve us, but it’s the only way forward. Harshness only reinforces settler culture. Practice compassion and humility with yourself and others.
• Practice noticing and regulating how much space, energy, attention, and resources you take up. When you are with indigenous people, listen more than you speak. Let indigenous people speak first. When you feel the urge to speak, check with yourself about how important it is to the group effort?
• If you have questions about how things are done, try to observe and follow by example. If necessary, find times to ask outside of meetings. Keep in mind that Native leaders have an enormous amount to do and think about. Practice being ok with not knowing everything you want to know.
• For 500 years, white people have been exploiting, betraying and destroying Native people, culture and resources. You may feel the impact of this legacy as distance, coolness, cautiousness, or distrust. Do not take it personally. You have been invited here and your presence matters. While you are expected to keep indigenous people in the center, it’s not your job to make up for all the past devastation by yourself. But you do have the opportunity to start creating a new legacy. This will be built through practice, with many mistakes. Go easy on yourself when you trip, and practice getting up quickly when you fall.
We understand cultural appropriation and make every effort to not perpetuate it.
• Being in this sacred space can be life altering, especially if you are not grounded in your own spirituality, ritual, healing traditions, ancestors, or connection with the earth. If you feel the pull to take on indigenous peoples’ spirituality, customs, and lifeways, know that it’s been a central feature of colonial oppression for non-Natives to help themselves to Native culture without building the necessary relationships, asking permission, or supporting indigenous survival. Although it can feel like respect or honor this dynamic is inseparable from genocide and colonialism. Remember, you are not here to ‘access’ Indigenous culture or knowledge; you are here to support a struggle for Indigenous peoples’ lifeways, and to protect water, land, and all of our futures.
• Own your history. European settlers came bearing the traumas of violence, lost connection with the land, and severe repression of their spiritual traditions. Becoming settlers deepened that loss. Being around indigenous people who still have those connections can bring up feelings of longing for white people, or the illusion of having found “home” in Native culture. It’s important to face our own historical losses, and draw on our own roots, rather than trying to claim the cultures that Native people have fought so hard to preserve. If you feel this pull, make space to grieve lost connections and knowledge. Learn about your own ancestral traditions, and develop a spiritual practice rooted in them. Native people, non- Native white people and non-Native people of color are all healing from different aspects of colonialism. Seek out people who share your experiences and histories with whom to connect and find healing.
• Never attend a ceremony without being expressly invited.
• You must register at the media tent to use a camera in camp, and you MUST ask permission to take photos or video of anyone at the camp. Be very careful in how you represent Native people in images. Make sure to connect with the people you want to photograph. Think about the story you are telling. Avoid portraying Native people in stereotypical and objectifying ways. Never photograph ceremony unless you are specifically told it’s okay.
• Impact is more important than intention. It is up to you to show that you know you are a guest and not an owner of indigenous traditions.
Creative commons (cc) the Standing Rock Solidarity Network. Reprinted with permission.

*come correct.  To behave properly or decently; to do the right thing. Act with respect, not ignorance.

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