While I was out west walking earlier this year, I was encountering so may interpersonal dynamics within the group, that I had to make several phone calls around the globe to try and ‘innerstand’ what the heck to make out of all the nonsense/sense.
One Grandmother I called, reminded me that decolonization is the re-feminization of Mother Earth and all her offspring. I was told that we as a people will not be free or decolonized until women are safe and free to walk anywhere, free from harm.
This landscape extends not just to the physical world, but to the internet world and beyond. What was being said between the lines, is: 1) that men need to be the protectors of women and not the destroyers, and 2) that men need to hold themselves, and other men, accountable on how to conduct themselves as men again.
Right after we had this talk with Grandmother my companions and I entered into Blackfoot country, where some of the first things this young Blackfoot man told us, was that Blackfeet people stem from a patrilineal society. But in telling us this he also said that women were created from everything that was sacred. Women were not required to do anything spiritual if they didn’t want to (because they were already Holy), and that they were free to come and go as they please. There was no real rules bound to the women.
We spent a night or two with these wonderful people, and I watched and observed how their household was run. The parents told us, that the boys, may argue with their fathers, but they NEVER ever step out of line with their mothers or sisters. I watched and I observed, and I saw how this dynamic played out in front of me, and was amazed how there was this mutual respect for one another.
I was really fascinated when the Mother spoke to her sons, there was no back talk, or anything – they simply obeyed their mothers. If they didn’t, I was told, there would be a father or an uncle more than willing to bring the young men back into check. The men held the men accountable.
So that brings into question, who hold me accountable, and who am I accountable to?
The short answer is that I must be accountable to myself. That means that I must have the humility to be able to live by the teachings, and accept criticism when I am not, and to correct my unacceptable behaviours, attitudes and/or actions.
I heard an Uncle say that our people have lost the age old teaching of non-interference. I kind of innerstand this, but on the other hand, I kind of don’t. The way I see it, there is a time to interfere, and there is a time not to interfere. (Except for the above mentioned, “never meddle in the affairs of women”).
However at work the the other day, I found myself interfering smack dab in the middle of someone’s conversation about black people, and how they need to “stop going on Oprah and crying about the KKK.”
Rather than not-interferring, I invited myself in (as patriarchal men often do) and I duelled it out with a couple of these workers. I, being the only non-white person, spoke against the racialized attack on black people. That conversation spanned into other areas; talking about gay pride, Bruce Jenner, transgender, racism, Indigenous issues, and so forth.
I used to be homophobic, having grown up with it in my home, school and personal life as a teen and a young adult. I reflected on one such occurrence, of a time when I was around 20 years old, that me and my best friend picked a fight with a table of gay guys, for no other reason than the fact that they were gay.
But what the Creator had in mind, was to eventually link in friendships with some really amazing gay and transgendered people. Some of whom literally rescued me from the throes of depression, and suicidal tendencies.
The point I was trying to illustrate with my co-workers was; if we don’t talk about the elephants in the room and we don’t confront these difficult issues, than what kind of world are we leaving for the next generations. Racism, patricarchy, misogyny, homophobia and all colonial oppressive behaviours will not just go away on their own.
Somewhere along the line, someone or some people took a stand for us so that we could practice our ceremonies and begin our paths back to decolonization. Therefore we must take stands against injustices, when they invite themselves onto us.
What I get about the teaching of non-interference is this: mind your own business, you don’t need to pay attention to other peoples lives. Best to stay away from gossip and drama. But on the flip side, Creator gave us the Grandfather Teaching of Wisdom – so we must be able to use our minds when to interfere and when not to interfere. Imagine if our ancestors never interfered with the British or U.S. Military? I wouldn’t be writing this article, nor would you Neechies be reading it.