The first step towards decolonization for Indigenous people is to rediscover what things were like for us prior to 1491.
Believe it or not, we had really good things going on here for many millennia – we were stewards of an entire continent rich with abundant super-foods and interconnected societies that needed no hierarchy or class system to exist (other than natural order).
In this regard decolonization isn’t about going backwards, it involves examining the ways of our ancestors and integrating those ways back into our modern lives.
Decolonization is a forward-thinking mindset.
The colonial states that are currently occupying our lands aren’t doing us any favours. Canada and the USA aren’t teaching our children real history in the school systems neither are they opening museum vaults to give us back our bones, our wampum belts and other ancient artifacts.
We may have to take those back by force someday.
For the meantime our people should be educating ourselves. Listening to the words of our elders revitalizes the process of oral history keeping and is the best way to relearn what we have lost. Each conversation with one of our treasured knowledge keepers is a chance to unlock a piece of the puzzle of decolonization.
Not everyone has elder access, so if you have an elderly relative on Six Nations you may not be aware of how much privilege you have. Don’t write them off, until you talk with them you just don’t know what they may know.
The next best way to find evidence is through the second hand information that can be gained through reading the right books.
Myths of Male Dominance by Eleanor Burke Leacock describes some of the earliest accounts written by French missionaries and in this book she attempts to extract the truth from the religion-tainted letters that the missionaries wrote.
In 1633 the east-coast Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi) were being observed and studied by Jesuit colonizers who were secretly pushing their male-supremacy and white-supremacy agendas under the guise of preaching the gospel of Christ.
Through the letters of Paul LeJune and others we can learn that the Indigenous people of the east coast had never witnessed a child being physically beaten as a form of discipline.
There was an moment when a French child hit an Innu with his drumstick drawing blood and as the child was about to be whipped for his actions, in great dramatic display one of the Innu men “stripped himself entirely, threw his blanket over the child and cried out to him who was going to do the whipping, “Strike me if thou wilt, but thou shalt not strike him.”” The little French child escaped.
At that time French children of the colony were also starved, doused with hot ashes and whipped like dogs in the street for the slightest disobedience – something unfathomable to their indigenous hosts. Can you believe that by 1643, a mere ten years later, the Innu were whipping their own children for disobedience? How did that happen?
It looks like the Innu also practiced varying forms of polyamory as they saw fit which the Jesuits really hated and quickly stamped out.
An Innu man wasn’t sure if his son was his biological son. He was told that it wasn’t honourable for his wife to have more than one sexual partner and the Jesuits shamed him. The Innu man responded and defended his wife, “Thou hast no sense. You French people love only your own children; but we all love all the children of our tribe.”
Leacock’s book goes on to assert that the Jesuits intentionally broke down the Indigenous family unit in an attempt to dispossess them of their land.
In one of their earliest letters back to the head church of France the Jesuits said the Innu people were unbreakable because there was no one in charge. The aliens were looking for a leader, the great ruler of Turtle Island – but that person didn’t exist. In other words we Indigenous people did not have a hierarchy system to corrupt so they devised a way for the Innu to voluntarily put one of their own men in a higher class than the rest. That is how the first male “Chief” (ruler) was created and the effects have been devastating our society since that moment a man commanded a woman with a tone of superiority.