The Decolonial Atlas: Re-imagining the world

towards a world without bordersThe Decolonial Atlas, started in 2014, is an attempt to bring together maps which, in some way, challenge our relationships with the land, people, and state. It is based on the premise that there is no such thing as “truth” in cartography. Only interpretation. The orientation of a map, its projection, the presence of political borders, what features are included or excluded, and the language used to label a map are all subject to the map-maker’s agenda. Because most maps in use today serve to reinforce colonial understandings of the Earth, we are consciously creating maps which help us to re-imagine the world – to decolonize.

The Decolonial Atlas is currently working to produce several maps, including:

  • Abya Yala – A map of the Western Hemisphere solely labeled with indigenous place names – A collaboration with hundreds of indigenous language speakers from Chile to Alaska.
  • lutruwita – A map of Tasmania in palawa kani, the aboriginal Tasmanian language – A collaboration with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Center.
  • A map of the Southeastern United States in the Euchee Language – A collaboration with the Savannah River Band of Euchee Indians
  • A History of Biocultural Extinctions – A map of the locations of extinct species and extinct indigenous languages in North America – A collaboration with Terralingua

If you are a cartographer, an indigenous language speaker, or would like to help in any way with these projects, please email us at decolonialatlas@gmail.com

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Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation

A resurgence of Indigenous political cultures, governances and nation-building requires generations of Indigenous peoples to grow up intimately and strongly connected to our homelands, immersed in our languages and spiritualities, and embodying our traditions of agency, leadership, decision-making and diplomacy. This requires a radical break from state education systems – systems that are primarily designed to produce communities of individuals willing to uphold settler colonialism. This paper uses Nishnaabeg stories to advocate for a reclamation of land as pedagogy, both as process and context for Nishnaabeg intelligence, in order to nurture a generation of Indigenous peoples that have the skills, knowledge and values to rebuild our nation according to the word views and values of Nishnaabeg culture.

Full Text: PDF

Leanne Simpson and Glen Coulthard on Dechinta Bush University, Indigenous land-based education and embodied resurgence

Originally posted on Decolonization:

This is the edited transcript of a conversation that took place in Edmonton, AB on October 18, 2014. You can listen to the full conversation with the MP3 above, or read the transcript below!


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Stories of the Shapes and Contours of Indigenous Relationships to Land: An Interview with Hayden King

Originally posted on Decolonization:

Listen to the interview above, or read the transcript of the interview below!


Eric Ritskes : This is Eric Ritskes [Editor of   Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society ]  and I’m here with Hayden King. Hayden is a professor and the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University here in Toronto, and we’re here chatting in his office about a new project that he’s taken on, as the host of the podcast, “Stories from the Land” – which you can find at www.storiesfromtheland.com. “Stories from the Land” is part of an ambitious new – independent & Indigenous – Internet media platform, which was launched recently by Ryan McMahon. It’s called Indian and Cowboy Media and already they’re producing a number of exciting Indigenous podcasts. I hope that everyone listening goes and checks that out.

But, this interview is about “Stories from the Land” – Hayden, why…

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Learning from the land: Indigenous land based pedagogy and decolonization

Vol 3, No 3 (2014) Table of ContentsBy Matthew Wildcat, Mandee McDonald, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Glen Coulthard, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, Vol 3, No 3 (2014)

This paper introduces the special issue of Decolonization on land-based education. We begin with the premise that, if colonization is fundamentally about dispossessing Indigenous peoples from land, decolonization must involve forms of education that reconnect Indigenous peoples to land and the social relations, knowledges and languages that arise from the land. An important aspect of each article is then highlighted, as we explore the complexities and nuances of Indigenous land-based education in different contexts, places and methods. We close with some reflections on issues that we believe deserve further attention and research in regards to land-based education, including gender, spirituality, intersectional decolonization approaches, and sources of funding for land-based education initiatives.

Full Text: PDF

Why I Stopped Teaching Yoga – My journey into spiritual, political accountability

Originally posted on moonlitmoth:

Over the past few months people have been asking me, “why did you stop writing?”. “Are you teaching anymore?” I got an email from a stranger who asked, “Where did you go?” It’s taken me months to untangle the threads that wove this transformation together.  Like most transformations, it runs deep.

After much soul searching, traveling and reflection I can not-so-cautiously say, I don’t teach yoga anymore – and to be honest, there’s not many people who I think should. At least not in the way most of us do now.

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I took this photo at my teacher training.

I did my teacher training in 2011. Since becoming an “accredited yoga teacher”, I’ve taught classes in several studios; co-created a social justice based yoga collective that offered yoga on a sliding scale to folks who otherwise might not access it; taught anti-oppression workshops in yoga studios across north America; met…

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Untitled Poem for the Ancestors by Camaray Davalos

I am far from where I came from.
I would try to make a sound, but no one would hear me.
I would try to make a move, but no one would see me.
I don’t mind death; I was never afraid to die.
But now that I’m gone I’m afraid I’m forgotten;
Down in the basement of a museum,
Down among hundreds of boxes,
Down because no one seems to care that I am alive.
Maybe I’m not breathing…but I feel erased. And if my spirit feels something, doesn’t that mean I am still valid?
Still relevant ?
Still existing?
I fear I am truly gone if I am not remembered.
I am not content with being  a catalog number, used to satiate someone’s interest in science.
I am not content with being taken against my will by a stranger.
I am not content with being a pawn in the systemic genocide of my people.
I think one day someone will remember me. I will be claimed by my people, and justice will be served.
Justice will be peaceful,
Justice will be right,
Justice will be obligatory.

Decolonizing Feminisms: Antiracist and Transnational Praxis

Originally posted on University of Washington Press Blog:

This week the University of Washington Press unveils the new series, Decolonizing Feminisms: Antiracist and Transnational Praxis, edited by Piya Chatterjee. The series reflects the Press’s plans to increase publications that engage with gender, women’s, sexuality, and critical race studies. UW Press editor in chief Larin McLaughlin will travel to several conferences this fall to promote the new series: American Studies Association, American Anthropological Association, and National Women’s Studies Association, where she’ll be joined by Dr. Chatterjee.

Decolonizing Feminisms welcomes progressive and radical feminist writing that privileges the integral connections between theory, activism, policy making and other forms of social action. It will forward the work of activists and scholars whose explorations highlight the inextricable weaves of knowledge and power, and theory and practice. The series is particularly interested in interdisciplinary writing that considers the ways in which historical and contemporary forms of colonization, occupation and imperialism compel…

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‘Building rage': Decolonizing class war

decolonize_turtle_islandBy Natalie Knight, Rabble.ca

The following is a speech by Natalie Knight delivered at “Decolonization 101,” a panel organized by Streams of Justice on June 2, 2014. The panel took place at Grandview Baptist Church, Unceded Coast Salish Territories.

I want to acknowledge that we are on occupied and unceded Coast Salish territories which are Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw lands.

On February 26 of this year, an Inuk woman named Loretta Saunders was found murdered and dumped on the side of the road in Salisbury, New Brunswick. Her death raised a national conversation about violence against Indigenous women. It is a deeply sad loss, and an acute effect of colonialism. And I also wonder about the reasons why Loretta received a more mainstream response than others or those that can’t even be reported, those deaths that are basically sanctioned by the police. Loretta was in university and maybe it was easier for Canada’s white-dominated society to recognize her and her violent absence. Maybe an Inuk woman who goes to university is more comprehensible than the over 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women who have been documented in the recent RCMP report, and the many Indigenous women still in certain shadows, including those missing and murdered below the colonial border.

In a series of online articles, Indigenous activists and writers expressed outrage, love, and wrote to contextualize Loretta Saunders within a much larger web of daily assault against Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, that goes unseen. Siku Allooloo wrote a piece called “From Outrage to Radical Love,” which starts by saying: “I’ve been in a building rage. I am outraged at the status quo, at the overwhelming rate of gender violence and murder suffered by Indigenous women and girls in this country. I am disgusted with the lived experience of that; of gender violence as a pervasive experience that the majority of Indigenous women and young girls face in various forms throughout our lifetimes.”[1]

Siku Allooloo goes on to argue for the power of love to bind Indigenous people together in the face of horrific violence. And we definitely need more love. But I want to linger on this “building rage” that she had because I feel it and I don’t actually want to transform that rage into anything other than a decolonized class war that finds its power in leadership by militant Indigenous and racialized women.

But looking for Indigenous and racialized women leadership is not ultimately about identity. It’s not about just centring some voices who don’t get heard and asking others to be quiet and listen. It’s not about making adjustments in representational democracy or ensuring that we have the right ratios of identities in our spaces, it’s not just about breaking the visible signs of white supremacy by assimilating some racialized people into spaces that haven’t actually changed. Decolonization is instead about breaking the entire system that creates and maintains identity categories that act to severely limit class solidarity. It is also about refusal, dissonance, and an unrelenting commitment to remaking myself, my relationships, and politics along lines that I can’t really predict and that won’t be recognized by whatever dominant social structures are around. For me this is the power of decolonization, and in the settler colonial state of Canada, it might be the only way to revitalize class politics that reflect our real lived lives and are relevant to a much larger international class war.

I think that the political impulse of decolonization means coming to understand that we have a shared enemy; but, needing to understand who and what that enemy is — and that it is a big part of many of us.

However, the word “decolonization” can stand in for all kinds of politics and interpretations. For me, decolonization is not about treaty processes and forms of self-management that strike a deal with the colonial and capitalist state. It’s not about emulating private property and heteropatriarchal government systems that cede the core of the dangerous difference and threat posed by Indigenous people to the state.

Decolonization is also not about rights; it’s not about civil rights for Indigenous people. Decolonization isn’t about civil rights because civil rights have only ever applied to intra-settler disputes and sometimes to settler resistance to state oppression. They leave out Indigenous people; they have always been defined against Indigenous people. Huanani-Kay Trask writes about this situation in Hawaii and says that it’s not so much “a struggle for civil rights, but a struggle against our planned disappearance.” [2] This isn’t an exaggeration. What connects the conditions of Indigenous people in Hawaii, in the U.S. mainland, and in Canada, are struggles over land. Dispossession of land means trying to disappear a whole people. I don’t think this can be said enough because this centrality of land seems to slide off the sophisticated rhetoric we can develop about class struggle, the working class, and the exploitation of wage labour.

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Our bodies are of this land: Decolonization and Indigenous women’s radical self-love

A Halfbreed's Reasoning is a collection of thoughts, ponderings, and musings on Indigenous politics and miscellaneous happenings through the eyes of a twenty-something Métis woman.By Samantha Nock, Rabble.ca

I have always been struck by the natural beauty of this earth. I grew up admiring rivers and the northern lights. I’ve forever been in awe of the quiet elegance of snow-covered trees. I was raised in a place where the landscape takes breath away and leaves people speechless.