Essay: Decolonizing the “Primitive Skills” Movement

On Stolen Land

Decolonizing the “Primitive Skills” Movement

A note: I use the word “primitive skills” as a catchall for traditional, indigenous, ancestral, and earth-based skills and technologies, because it is the term widely used in the movement I speak of in this essay. However using the word “primitive” is problematic, as it implies that the technology of industrial civilization is more “advanced” than these older technologies, and ignores the fact that many of these technologies are part of living traditional cultures.

People in modern America choose to practice “primitive”, also called ancestral or earth-based skills, for a number of reasons. Many oppose the modern lifestyle, are critical of capitalism and civilization and mourn the ways it has disconnected us as humans from the earth. Many recognize that Indigenous ways of being represent a picture of humans living in harmony with nature, a truly sustainable way of life, finding food, shelter, and every…

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