If you’re following events and people at Standing Rock closely right now, you may have seen a post going around from Mia Ritter-Whittle, addressing white women. It is not easy reading, and she does not mince words.
The most important part, and the part that I keep seeing come back at me from my fellow white women, is this:
Unless you actively support Indigenous women and two-spirit people in your own damn lives, unless you’re working to undo the power structures that allow you to be a ‘donor’, unless you’re selflessly following Indigenous leadership when it comes to Indigenous movements, I personally don’t care too much about your solidarity. Unless you’re working to DECOLONIZE and not RECOLONIZE, your solidarity ain’t real.
Suffice it to say it’s caused a lotta butthurt on Facebook as people face this.
I get it. No one wants to be told their Facebook “I Stand with Standing Rock” profile photo is worthless and whatnot, or that the money they’ve sent, or the posts they’ve forwarded, the solidarity marches they’ve attended, or the all-pervasive white guilt, is worthless.
There’s a whole lotta butthurt on the PLANET right now though, and some of this is coming from people with 500+ straight up years of dealing with genocide and cultural theft, which is still happening to them. And somehow you’re surprised you’re getting the cold shoulder?
I’m not an expert on decolonization (it’s a learning process). I’m getting that this is not my struggle, that no matter how many tipi ceremonies i’ve been in, how many peyote songs I can remember, or the fact that I own a couple of pendleton blankets, a flute and a frame drum , that great-grandpa was from Pine Ridge and I know a bunch of native people does not make me a good ally. Neither does showing up at Standing Rock unless I can come prepared with more to share, keep my mouth shut unless i’m asked for my opinion, don’t get butthurt when i’m not invited to ceremony, do what I’m told, and remember that first and foremost, it’s their struggle for their sovereignty and protection of their sacred. That the rest of us may benefit from the indigenous concept that land and water is sacred, and that water is life, is a bonus, for sure. These indigenous ideas, well, they’re on to something, and they always have been. I hope that when the day finally comes that they’re responsible for the land again, they’ll let me stay.