I have been asked to define what decolonizing means. I can’t define it for anyone other than myself. But it might be said that what applies to my process might apply to others.
This article is a good start ….
below is only a sampling of my definitions, as I’m trying to really settle in to the process….and that’s key – that decolonizing is a process. First thing to note, though, is that recently my friend Ron informed me that he has started to use uncolonizing as the preferred language.
In my effort to understand this change, I have developed the following ontological approach to situate my process. “de” as the prefix means to reverse something. “un” as the prefix, is usually not preferred by grammar rules. But I undertake uncolonizing in the same way I undertake undressing….removing, layer by layer, the effects and identities of the colonizer.
uncolonizing means accepting responsibility for the effects of colonization….committing to healing those effects where you can, without being defensive…
uncolonizing means knowing that I have Ojibwe ancestry, but because my lineage was interrupted by colonization, I must be very careful about stepping in to the world and walking the path as Anishinaabekwe…
uncolonizing means that I must never speak or act as if I have agency of any Native person or group without having been granted that agency specifically to speak or act …. it means that I must be aware of my privilege and any power that accompanies it…
uncolonizing means that I must never put myself in front of a Native person. I may be beside, or behind, but never in front…it also means that I must accept that I don’t have to ‘make space’ for Native voices as much as I need to just shut up and get out of the way….
uncolonizing means not engaging in conversations where I allow my anger toward colonizers or colonization to harm the efforts and achievements of Native people….
uncolonizing means that I must embrace my relationship and responsibility to universal and natural laws that govern my interactions with Sovereign Nations, both human and more-than-human and change my behaviors….
uncolonizing means that my behavioral changes must involve my heart, mind and body….it must be holistic and spiritual, above all else…..
This is how I situate myself in this work.