Tag Archives: Indigenous

Decolonizing the Garden

Varieties of Mexican maize. Oaxaca, Mexico

Varieties of Mexican maize. Oaxaca, Mexico

Via Nomad Seed Project

Wild plants have made up most of the focus of this blog. But what about “domesticated” plants, such as the annuals we grow in our gardens?

How can we treat them that they behave more like wild plants – vigorous, resilient, low-maintenance, and more fecund and feral – yet which continue to supply our needs for flavor, nutrition, and ease of access?

The answers, I believe, are found inside the genome of the seed where genetic diversity is found. I will explore the concept behind landrace gardening, which provides for many real-world examples of genetic diversity in action.

The Seeds of Genetic Diversity

The seed has found itself at the forefront of politics lately. With corporate threats to food security and seed integrity like Monsanto and ADM looming large, the voices of the seed-savers have become powerful leaders helping to create a future of food security. A down-to-earth, humble pursuit at root, seed-saving is the cornerstone of food sovereignty but largely a lost art these days. The seed-savers have thus been positioned as more than just the saviors of seed but as the saviors of land-based culture in general.

While the actions of the seed-savers are commendable, this is not a post about seed-saving, though seed-saving is a part of it. My focus here is rather on genetic diversity: one big issue, which can be broken down in many ways.

I aim to show not only how we lost genetic diversity, but how we can regain it. I call it “decolonizing the garden,” because on the right hand it resists the corporate-based objectifying commodity-driven economy, and on the left hand it unspins some of the unquestioned premises and methods guiding the way we’re used to gardening.

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Dear White People: An Open Letter to White People on Becoming Indigenous

By Adebayo Akomolafe / bayoakomolafe.net

Dear white people,

For as long as I can remember, I have always been white. Like you. I just didn’t know it.

Born in the bipolar Nigerian city of soaring skyscrapers and sprawling slums, Lagos, where the sun sometimes forgot to dim its fierce heat, I grew up thinking I was black like everyone else. All the signs were there – including my black skin, my shy head-hugging hair, and my Yoruba name with its lyrical tonality and vaunted meanings.

There wasn’t much more to that identity, however. Nothing special. When I walked down Jemtok Street to buy my dad a small cold bottle of Guinness Extra Stout, it wasn’t ‘black’ music that people were dancing to in street parties or ‘black’ movie heroes that people were speaking animatedly about. We were all bedazzled by Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo, by the manner of speaking of those of us who were fortunate enough to visit your countries, and by your technological wizardry – evidenced in every gadget we owned or wanted to.

At school, we watched recorded clips of BBC news videos to learn how to pronounce English words properly. “Don’t open your mouth so wide”, our teachers would warn – not quite living up to their own imposed standards. During Christmas, my sisters and I didn’t understand why we were not allowed to hang our stockings on the front door[1], and cursed our misfortune when snow didn’t fall – like it did on TV.

Even though we preferred our own food (yours never seemed to have enough seasoning or fried chunks of meat), our own traditions (our elders felt kissing publicly meant you all had no proper ‘home training’), and our music, the soundtrack of our lives was the promise of traveling ‘Abroad’ and knowing the magic of meeting ‘oyinbo[2]’ people and living in ‘oyinbo’ lands. And living ‘oyinbo’ lives. The good life.

It was every thinking and non-thinking man’s dream. And for good reason: the West, your home, was heaven, and God lived there.

Needless to say, a steady undercurrent of self-loathing flowed through our lives – urging us to civilizational heights of whiteness. Urging us to wear three piece suits under a quizzical sun. Urging us to demonize our own traditions so that we could catch up with you.

We didn’t say it this way, but it was nonetheless inescapably true to us: if it was white, it was right.

But one day, at least for me, it ‘suddenly’ wasn’t.

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Re-envisioning resurgence

Indigenous pathways to decolonization and sustainable self-determination

By Jeff Corntassel, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, Vol 1, No 1 (2012)

Amidst ongoing, contemporary colonialism, this article explores Indigenous pathways to decolonization and resurgence with an emphasis on identifying everyday practices of renewal and responsibility within native communities today.  How are decolonization and resurgence interrelated in struggles for Indigenous freedom?  By drawing on several comparative examples of resurgence from Cherokees in Kituwah, Lekwungen protection of camas, the Nishnaabe-kwewag “Water Walkers” movement, and Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) revitalization of kalo, this article provides some insights into contemporary decolonization movements. The politics of distraction is operationalized here as a potential threat to Indigenous homelands, cultures and communities, and the harmful aspects of the rights discourse, reconciliation, and resource extraction are identified, discussed, and countered with Indigenous approaches centered on responsibilities, resurgence and relationships. Overall, findings from this research offer theoretical and applied understandings for regenerating Indigenous nationhood and restoring sustainable relationships with Indigenous homelands.

Full Text: PDF