By Kim Haxton (Potowatomi), who will be co-presenting IndigenEYEZ Leadership Essentials at Hollyhock in July 2017.
Canada is a newcomer as a Nation as compared to the many First Nations from across Canada that have thousand of years in sovereign Nationhood. The Haida with 17000 years and Sylix/Okanagan 8,000 years had the time to understand how to live well upon the land. This is time for Canada to learn, mature and fulfill its potential as a nation by taking the opportunity to learn from the indigenous ways of seeing and being that have been formed through hundreds of generations of living with the land in a good way, thereby being able to cultivate an appropriate Nation to Nation relationship.
However it must also be acknowledged that the ability of First Nations to share their cultural wisdom has been severely diminished through the effect of colonization and cultural genocide that impacted health of individuals, families, and communities, by separating them from the land and their cultural heritage vis a vis residential schooling and inadequate funding of critical services.
It is imperative to support a movement of indigenous sovereignty, cultural resurgence, and collective right relationship on the land. One piece that has emerged is that reconciliation needs to happen for everyone, mostly for settlers who live here, but also within their own communities on claiming sovereign rights and customs.
Most people have lost our way. Once intimately connected to the vital factors and processes of the Earth, we have become domesticated, removed and separate from our wild past. Rewilding is the process of decolonizing our minds, un-domesticating our bodies and returning to our wild, authentic selves.
While there are different rituals, rites and ceremonies, all cultures around the world have their healers, medicine people and plant medicines. People may use songs, ceremonies, storytelling, connecting with nature. Though cultures and techniques vary, all ceremonies allow people to enter the sacred, heal from past traumas, honor one another and all of creation in reverence.
Once an important facet of all Indigenous cultures, our ability for interspecies communication has been lost. Originally people used to be able to hear the plants and animals. There are stories that stretch from South East Asia to the Amazon about combining plant medicines. I was told “the plants sing, and if the notes match you can put them together, if the notes are not harmonized you will make poison” I wonder how many people can hear the plants?
This all relates to the way that our society has been domesticated and resulted in a lack of awareness of ourselves, each other and the whole of the Earth. One just need consider climate change, overpopulation, habitat loss, depletion of the oceans and a continued focus on extraction and profit models over sustainable ones to see where it has all led.
Rewilding is about connecting into something bigger, remembering that we are part of a larger whole. A recent example would be the North Dakota Pipeline Protectors witnessing the buffalo coming through at a poignant moment. The Elders would remind us that there is help from the Ancestors and all of our Relations; the winged ones, the four-leggeds, the ones with fins. Rewilding is about remembering our wild ancestry and acknowledging its aliveness in this present day and in our wild selves.
Kim Haxton (Potowatomi) is a multifaceted, multidimensional educator, rooted in knowledge and steeped in community. She is Potowatami from Wasauksing. In her work with Indigeneyez, a creative arts based organization she co-founded, Kim works with Indigenous communities toward decolonization and liberation. Kim currently leads Peace and Conflict Resolution programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, cultivating local leadership in Congolese women who have been affected by civil war, poverty and sexual violence. Kim has developed and facilitated programs in over 8 countries, and has been working in land-based education and leadership for the past 20 years.
Join Kim for IndigenEYEZ Leadership Essentials at Hollyhock on July 21-25, 2017!