Read my full article at Academia.edu, although it was originally published Red Rising Magazine and reprinted with permission in “Our School/Our Selves” from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
“From my perspective, indigenous studies is about creating allyship between natives and non-natives, but for everyone to be close to ‘being in the same place’ and have a conversation about current indigenous issues, we had to go back to basics. That meant a lot of breaking down of their epistemologies, breaking down prejudices and stereotypes of misinformation that were present. Histories, literature, watched movies, music lyrics, theories, what questions shouldn’t you ask and which ones you most definitely should when learning about natives. Unlearning fabricated Europeanized history in order to receive actual indigenous history.”
“Two of the most significant things that stuck with non-native students was having actual boarding or residential school survivors come into class and share their stories, the other was looking at the romanticized stereotypes of their childhoods then learning how destructive that is for native peoples. Whenever they would write down what they had learned, that’s what they pointed out.
But all during these times, as there were only one or two native students per class, natives were usually quiet because they felt it wasn’t their space anymore. It wasn’t about the indigenous, it was about what white people were missing and their opinions, viewpoints and needs that they wished validated. So, misinformation wasn’t the only thing holding the classes back, but the power dynamics, attitudes and behaviors white students had developed due to privilege.”
“The thing is, when they bring their white fragility, seeking indigenous methodologies, trying to circumvent white privilege, that’s not what Native Studies is about. If you want to play white colonialism,” said Singer, “you need to go do that someplace else. I mean, people are dying on reservations but you’re here talking about yourself.”