Last week I wrote about decolonization, specifically asking the question “How?” We got a lot of good responses to that and this week I’d like to share a letter sent in by a self-described “white girl” about her thoughts on Decolonization. I loved it. I’m sure you will too.
Dear Nahnda Garlow,
I was in my workplace lunchroom, perusing the countertops for something to read, when I found a copy of the Two Row Times on an old washing machine. I picked it up and started reading through it. When I got to your article, I read it and then re-read it. I suddenly felt excited because the conflict you were describing and the overwhelming number of questions regarding decolonization, what it means, what it would look like, whether or not it is completely valuable, etc., were all questions that I find myself grappling with on a daily basis—except that I am not a “rez girl;” I am a “white girl.” My ancestors were the colonizers…
What I really connected to in your article was your honesty with the internal conflicts you are experiencing with wanting to re-connect to the land, rather than simply accepting and adapting to the westernized, cultural regime; however, still finding that you take pleasure in some Western products and activities. I think this is a very real struggle, and I am humbled by your honesty and by your willingness (despite how difficult it may be), to engage with those probing self-questions. I think that you sort of answered the last question you pose in your article in regards to decolonization, “where do you begin?”—through the very act of writing the article itself.
In regards to “decolonization,” I don’t think I had ever heard the term used before reading your article, and yet, I have lived nearly all my life on the Haldimand Tract—contested land. Despite living on contested land my whole life, I have spent most of my life living in ignorance of this fact. I am ashamed of how much I have taken for granted—not only because I do not fully understand the history of colonization, but also because I have taken for granted many western values—or what I like to call, “American Dream” values—values associated with the “systems” you refer to in your article. I fear that I have accepted many values that make these systems work, without really questioning them. I am currently struggling to re-think what it is that is truly important to me in life. I am constantly trying to challenge my own reality, and my own values, while also trying to figure out how to act—a question I felt you were asking within your article.
As a white, Canadian girl, I have some questions to add to your compelling list… How can the colonizers take responsibility for colonizing and act toward decolonization? How might the people sharing the land (even though some people don’t act as though they are ‘sharing’)—how might we become allies in this struggle to “[reclaim] our relationship to the earth,” (as you state in your article)? How might we become allies in asking these hard and daunting questions of ourselves?
Anyway, I would like to meet sometime, and maybe talk about how to grow a garden together. It doesn’t have to be a literal garden, but it could be a space where we practice this struggle of asking harder questions of ourselves and the historical/cultural state we find ourselves in. Perhaps “decolonization” is not an endpoint or a goal to achieve, the way getting a “good job” is a goal. Perhaps “decolonization” is a way of being in the world.
Thank you for your piece.
Thank you for sharing your heart Calla.