Critical Conversations about Diversity Justice Series (5/9/14)
In reviewing my opening comments, it struck me that it might come across as too negative. While I did feel increasingly angry when reflecting on the historical and ongoing consequences of colonization, the other side of that anger is optimism. American Indian communities are wonderfully resilient and here to stay—we aren't going anywhere. The ability of American Indians to adapt and experience our situation with wry humor is a mainstay of community perseverance in spite of the everyday pressures Native people experience. Moreover, recent decades have seen a cultural revival of customs, knowledge and traditions as tribes assert their legitimacy and offer indigenous perspectives on complex contemporary issues. Examples of resurgent community vitality include language revitalization efforts, a strong tribal college movement on reservations, a thriving intertribal powwow trail that many follow, the resurgence of the ocean-going canoe journeys between tribes of the Pacific Northwest, where the potlatch tradition of community visits and gifting is practiced, and the renewed interest in hosting wild rice camps among the Anishinaabe of the upper Midwest. Through these opportunities (and many others) traditions are shared, leadership groomed and youth are learning the values, stories and customs of their communities, …all shaping another generation of leaders to engage the challenges ahead.
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