Aside from being moved by the beautiful works in this anthology, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke’s introduction really moved me and forced a point of reflection for me. While reading it, I started to really reflect on the privileges I carry as someone who immigrated to North America years after colonization. In other words, my perception of this place is the appropriated, industrialized, built upon land that I engage with on a daily basis. However, for indigenous communities, this is not what this continent always looked like.
Indigenous communities had this land taken from them, earthworks destroyed, and lives lost at the hands of colonizers. Now, centuries later, we have this country developed on pillaging. There is a massive amount of privilege I carry only knowing this place as it is. Meanwhile, indigenous peoples have to carry the generational pain of a home that once was. This is very disconcerting to me…
Recognizing my privilege, I feel the need to come up with action steps related to how I can be a better ally and stand up for the initiatives of indigenous communities. But, I must admit that I feel like the things I’ve done in the past, like signing petitions and going to rallies and walk-outs, have never felt like enough; I always feel like there is more I could be doing. Coke mentions a hearing in Oacoma related to preserving historical land from developers. According to Coke, the hearing was won because of an outpouring of letters, testimonies, and ‘labor poems’ that moved officials who unanimously voted to support the initiative. In this, I see the importance of both voice and listening/making space for marginalized voices.
Thus, I think I’m going to start a running list of consciousness-raising things I could be doing to uplift the voices, narratives, and histories of the indigenous communities in the regions I inhabit, so that when the times come to stand up for indigenous communities, the labor does not have to completely fall in the hands of these communities. Any help on this list would be great because I can only come up with a few places to start off the top of my head.
1. Research the histories of indigenous communities that previously inhabited the spaces that I live in. (And fact check with resources from indigenous historians, as we know white historians don’t always get it right)
2. Practice an increased reverence for the earth