“INM is the continuation, the revitalization, the realization… of our long-standing fight to recover our lands, demand respect for the treaties that are the foundation of North American societies, and demonstrate the strength and dignity of our people. It’s decolonization in the 21st century, it’s Idle No More without restraint, it’s acting on our ancestral rites, it is Indigenous Nationhood!” – Taiaiake Alfred
With events happening throughout Turtle Island, the reclaiming of Indigenous homelands is a relevant and conscious movement towards Indigenous nationhood, especially when led by First Nations. In addition to reclaiming ancestral homelands by First Nations, there are others acts of resurgence that are occurring that create opportunities for Indigenous people to engage in discussions about decolonizing. At the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Indigenous faculty, graduate students, and staff will lead an Indigenous Leadership Forum (ILF) from May 21-28, 2013. During this week long event, members of the Indigenous community from throughout the Americas will participate in workshops and forum where dialogue will address issues that include leadership and ideas about what leadership may look like. The forum, with a jam packed agenda, provides participants the opportunity to actively engage with Indigenous faculty, but also to hear from First Nations of the region as well.
As everyday acts of resurgence are happening throughout Turtle Island, in addition to the ILP, on May 22, 2013 a historic day of action to reclaim the traditional name of PKOLS (formerly known as Mt. Doug) in Lekwungen and Wsanec Territory in British Columbia will take place. During this time, several First Nations communities will lead supporters in this event to Reclaim PKOLS. According to oral tradition, Pkols can be translated as “White Head” and is a testament to the culture that is deeply rooted in Indigenous knowledge and history.
Supported in part by the Indigenous Nationhood Movement, Pkols is one example of First Nations resurgence to reclaim their ancestral homelands. While First Nations people realize the values, significances, and roles as caretakers of their homelands is important, PKOLS, to the Indigenous people of the region was more than an important meeting place, it is the homelands of their ancestors.
The reclaiming of Pkols with its renaming is a historic event but also a call to action for Native people throughout Turtle Island to begin to reclaim their inherent right to their ancestral homelands. An Indigenous presence on ancestral homelands not only states a reclaiming of rights, it also reminds white settlers of the Indigenous values and our belief systems in why we believe in our roles and responsibilities as caretakers of the lands of our ancestors. Our ancestral homelands are indeed worth the good fight.
According to Taiaiake Alfred, “Restoring our nationhood is the fundamental struggle” and in my opinion, involves not accepting the status quo in our approach to being a collective group of conscious Indigenous people. Woven into that is a movement towards Indigenous nationhood. As Indigenous communities, we battle the same issues from one reservation to another. Isolated in some regions, impoverished reservations are plagued with socio economic and behavorial issues related to unresolved historical grief trauma through forced assimilation. Colonized views of governance, economic development, natural resources management, education, health care, and wellness are ridden with non-Indigenous values that do not reflect our society. The time has come for our communities to rise and look to our ancestral value systems and ask ourselves, how are we making conscious decisions to help our people if we are using policies and forms of government that do not reflect or value our identity as Indigenous people? A move toward nationhood would create more opportunity for our people to work collectively such as the several First Nations bands who are working together to reclaim Pkols.
The impetus in writing this article for LRI is to share with readers that as a community, we are indeed a diverse group of people. We are rich with culture that is unique and our languages are what tie us to our ancestors, homelands, and spirituality. My intent is also to open and begin dialogue on a transition from Idle No More to Indigenous nationhood. It’s time to begin dismantling the years of oppressive colonial ways of thinking and look to our elders, knowledge keepers, spiritual leaders, and teach our future community members (our precious youth), to seek out their elders, knowledge keepers, spiritual leaders, and decolonize how we view our communities.
When Idle No More emerged in support of Chief Theresa Spence, it was recognized throughout Turtle Island and awakened the people with round dance flash mobs. I enjoyed seeing and participating in a round dance in my home community as we came together to honor and pray for Chief Theresa. Throughout Turtle Island, white settler allies and even the non-allies watched as a sleeping people community began to stir. Idle No More was the wake up call to the reality of how First Nations and Indigenous people around the world viewed colonial powers and their forms of forced assimilative government.
Since its introduction to the world, Idle No More moved me and made me believe in the need to help create the opportunity for Indigenous people to be heard. I also believed in Chief Theresa Spence, more than that, I believed it was time to stand up and speak out against the injustices and apathy within our home communities. As stated by Taiaiake Alfred, “We need to focus our activism on the root of the problem facing our people collectively: our collective dispossession and misrepresentation as Indigenous peoples.” Idle No More is more than flash mob round dances or an event posted in social media, it’s a conscious movement towards a realization that we as a community, no matter what part of Indian country we are from, must stand together as nations.
While there are Indigenous people working to create changes in their home communities, the move to reclaim Indigenous homelands by standing up and staking our presence on the homelands of our ancestors, reveals a strength and resilience that white settlers must recognize. The time has come to stand together and rise as nations and the resurgence begins with events such as the PKOLS.
Please join in the support of the WSANEC (Saanich) people as they reclaim Pkols by visiting the website where you can find more information.
RECLAIM PKOLS || #May22 #PKOLS