Trying to Be a Better Ally to Indigenous Folks

I find myself being increasingly bothered by my inability to figure out how to internalize and incorporate indigenous-supporting/anti-settler concepts into my daily life. I’ve made a lot of progress in this regard with other issues for which I am apart of the agent identity in question. Examples of this are: antiracist work centering people of color, accessibility work supporting non-able bodied/non-“average” bodied people, and immigration work supporting non-English speakers and undocumented immigrants.

I’m not talking about in “big take action” ways, which I do not want to in anyway detract from the importance of, but in the small everyday ways.

What does it mean to move in the world as a person with compassion and wanting to not personally repeat the ongoing traumas marginalized communities face? At yard, in the chow hall, in a class. What conscious choices can I make as a Celtic, able-bodied normatively-sized, natural born settler-citizen, living on the occupied land of indigenous peoples, and also be a person of conscience? It may be something easy, like timing my return from a callout to coincide with the guy on crutches to hold his books for him as he makes his way up the stairs. Or it may be a little more involved, like talking to the other “white” people in one of my classes to try and convince them to stop self-selecting (that is, sitting with only people that look like themselves). Or something a bit time-consuming like helping someone figure out how to read the callouts even though neither of us speak a lick of the other’s language. None of these things are like a “really big deal.” However, they are all things that I would not have done if I wasn’t aware of the ongoing harms that are caused to people of color, non-ablebodied people, and immigrants just by us, as a society, doing nothing.

I not even going to try and pretend I’m necessarily good at any of these things, but I do try and I do intentionally listen with an eye towards adjusting/improving my decision making process.

Which brings me to why I am so bothered by the settler-culture/indigenous peoples issue. The big stuff I get. Like nationalist, border regulating, natural resource consuming, erasure of culture and language, government policies and social constructs are bad, especially for indigenous peoples. Let’s stop doing that.

Here is where my personal issue comes into play: what does embodying those ideas into my daily life look like? What does it look like to have my day-to-day choices be an act of love and solidarity with indigenous people? I honestly don’t know and that really bothers me.

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