OPINION: Finding cultural success and financial success in decolonized ways

If we measure the success of a people by its technology this current society may be the most successful society of all time.

But if we are to measure the success of a people by their level of fulfilment and contentment with life, then the ancient ancestors of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) enjoyed more success than we can begin to imagine.

Success. It’s such a loaded word. As if there is one moment in our lives in which we finally achieve our dreams and goals. Maybe for some there is, but for the rest of us success becomes a phantom that is always just out of sight.

For anyone who has witnessed an open-heart surgery it is absolutely amazing that we as humans have the ability to accomplish it. A successful operation is a huge success in every way. Likewise, Onkwehon:we children learning to speak an endangered language and preserving it is also a huge success, we can’t compare the two.

In a materialist society, financial income measures success. The children of Grand River Territory deserve to be both culturally and financially successful.

It’s the hope for success that compels us to send our indigenous children into an imposed Canadian education system year after year — a foreign system which actually teaches them wrong and harmful ideas about their own history and identity through mental programming and conditioning. It’s a dangerous game.

We have possible heart surgeons of the future attending their first week of school. The institutions of Canada must begin to recognize our children’s right to decolonize even though they are surrounded by colony. Canada tried to erase Haudenosaunee culture in the past. Reconciliation is fostering our cultural expression no matter how it may arise — inconvenient, uncomfortable or otherwise. We have no obligation to be coherent to our visitors just as they have never been coherent to us.

Decolonization is the process of looking back to our collective past and discerning which parts of our story and culture can be preserved and integrated into our modern lives. Decolonization is taking the spirit and intent of our teachings and bolstering our society with the practicality and wisdom of our elders.

What good is it if a person memorizes the ceremonies and becomes fluent in all five languages but doesn’t show compassion and empathy? A bad method can ruin a good message. Is the heart of our culture based upon protocol or is it based upon wisdom and understanding? Who then is the most cultural person on Six Nations? Who among us has wisdom?

Superstition and fear must give way to reason, logic and truth.

Look at what is happening all around us. The mountains are ablaze with wildfire while floods cover the south. An eclipse just happened in the sky. Multiple hurricanes are raging. Perhaps our Earth-Mother is speaking to us in the most ancient tongue.

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