I have recently begun a Quest. For me, the definition of Quest is an inner and outer journey based upon a Question. The Question for this Quest is: How do I, personally, decolonize, and contribute to my People's decolonization? I am far from the end of the Quest. I only just barely found the question! However, that was one of the harder parts. As wise folks often say knowing the right question to ask is the most important part.
Before I discovered the question, I read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which my daughter gave to me. It turned out to be a resonating voice to influence and strengthen my pathways. She writes of plants from an Indigenous and from a botanist's perspective, and weaves our relationship throughout, tracing the history to the roots of our dysfunctions, and to the roots of the solutions for health. She gave me a glimmer of a direction I could follow. I began to seek the question, and it slowly formulated into "How can I decolonize?"
The next big thing that directed me was a gift from Historian and Chepenefu David Harrelson, at a lecture about Chepenefu, the Kalapuya people of this area of the valley. He gave a short summary to this mostly white crowd, of their history of 500 generations living in the Valley. One of my favorite things he said was, "these are our Ancestors, but they are your Landcestors." In embracing these words (or perhaps allowing them to embrace me) I feel a sense of responsibility to my Landcestors. A sense of connection. A sense of receptivity, reciprocity, and a sense of determination. This is a feeling of decolonization, and it is a good one.
I've read some articles on decolonization and though some specific points are made on "how-to", it is mostly a raising of awareness of the need to do it, and then an urging for each person and group to figure it out for themselves how to do it. So, I am left with a question. That is good. Frustrating, but good. There is no clear answer. This has not really been done before on a large scale, as far as I know. I am convinced it must be done on a large scale for our survival on Earth. There are grey areas, confusing. How to learn the Indigenous ways but not appropriate? How to connect with our own Ancestors that are Indigenous to those places we came from? How to heal the rift that broke us from our connection to them, thus our connection to healthy relationship with the Earth? How to live our Indigenous-from-overseas traditions/heritage/culture in this new land in a way that honors and promotes and compliments the Indigenous People's traditions/heritage/culture on who's land we now live?
Last week I spent two days at the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde at a history and culture summit, and brought my questions with me. I listened. I bring my questions back home with me. I listen.
Today I was working in the orchard gardens and the plants began to tell me somethings. They kindof gave me a list:
1)Listen to us. Listen to our People.
2)Follow the Honorable Harvest.
3)Thank the land and your Landcestors and keep asking them how they want you to walk and work this Earth.
4)Learn about how the Indigenous Peoples of your land managed the land and think about ways you can do that or promote or restore any of that.
5)See if you can coordinate and share and follow direction, in the land you work, of Indigenous Peoples in your area. Every area has the People, they are not gone. They are still here, and may be removed to a bit of a distance but you can find them. Remember it is their country, our People are occupying it.
4)Plant native plants. Plant non-natives in a way that does not disrupt or that compliments native plants.
5)Remember that Permaculture is not at all new, it is the way Indigenous People's managed the land for eons, and was highly perfected way beyond what we are doing. Learn from it and reference it and credit it.
This is just a start, a small one. But I am excited to begin the journey.