This week most Americans are given time off to celebrate Thanksgiving. While the holiday is meant to patriotically celebrate the triumph of pilgrims surviving in their newly conquered land, it is a very convenient retelling of the near-massacre of the Wampanoags and is a day of mourning for many Indigenous communities. As with many colonial endeavors, it was to the colonizer’s benefit to paint Indigenous communities as inferior and require the colonisers’ help, to justify taking their land and forcing them to assimilate into the colonisers’ culture.
Unfortunately, these tactics live on today, with the Supreme Court of the U.S. considering overturning a law that protects Native children from being taken away from their families. The Indian Child Welfare Act was created to address the high numbers of children being separated from their families and prioritizes other Native families in the adoption process. The threat to overturn this law would separate Native children not only from their homes and families but also from their tribes and cultures. This is a devastating continuation of colonial policies that stole Indigenous children from their tribes and placed them in boarding schools under the guise of “saving” Native Americans by educating them in the norms of the European Coloniser.
In more positive news, the U.S. Congress is considering a Native leader to be seated as a House delegate. While this leadership would be crucial in addressing the needs of Indigenous communities, such as in the attack on their rights above, it comes much too late. The U.S. Congress made a promise to seat a delegate from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in the U.S. legislature over 200 years ago but was told to wait. Indigenous and colonized communities are often asked to “wait”, but for how long? What other rights and resources are removed from these communities when their needs are deprioritized?
So what can you do to disrupt colonialism as it lives on today? And how does your organization combat colonialism in its equity policies? You could consider a range of actions: from doing robust engagement with indigenous and colonized communities when recruiting for roles to educating yourselves on colonialist policies and advocating against them to investing in land reparations to colonized communities. You could also read/follow specific Indigenous rights and colonialism experts and activists such as Aimé Césaire, Pınar Ateş Sinopoulos-Lloyd, Tara Houska, and Jessica Hernandez.