The Lakota expression, “Aho Mitakuye Oyasin,” is widely used among many tribes within what is now known as The United States of America; It means, “We are all related; all connected.”
In the spirit of connection with all beings, where none are higher or lower in the great web of all life, we offer this invitation to begin healing our relations with the Indigenous Peoples of these lands.
The inspiration for The Good Relations Pledge is inspired by the Indigenous cultural leaders, scholars and artists within the community of MUSEA - The Intentional Creativity Foundation 501(c(3. We feel the formal reparation process has yet to address the role of the individual, in addition to the global and national systemic change called for by Indigenous Nations. We are calling our community as well as all communities to join us in a Citizens’ Acknowledgement.
We the citizens of the United States heed this call to the individual and humbly offer this acknowledgment as an initial ‘first step’ into a complex, dynamic arena of healing, education, reparation and the forming of good relations.
If you do not consider yourself Indigenous to the Americas and you are a US Citizen, then taking this pledge is for you.
If you are an Indigenous person living in the United States, we welcome you to read, to feel, and to know that many of us are reaching to improve our relationship with your peoples and the land, in actionable ways, from our hearts and hands. We honor your wisdom.
The Good Relations Pledge is designed to guide citizens through a process of acknowledging Indigenous Peoples’ lived experiences of genocide by way of large-scale land theft, impartation of disease, racial oppression, forced assimilation, institutionalized violence, and historical erasure.
We wish to acknowledge the historical and ongoing deliberate harm experienced by Indigenous Peoples and their lands by every successive government of the United States of America under the guise of colonial progress and a claim of ‘manifest destiny', at all costs.
For many Indigenous leaders, scholars and activists, arriving at a ‘Citizens’ Acknowledgement’ has itself been a long time in the making. This reparation work has primarily taken place within local organizations and individual relationships. Many citizens lack awareness of and do not acknowledge their complicity in systems, structures, economic models, and unconscious entrained biases that reinforce the oppression of Indigenous peoples.
The intent of our Citizens’ Acknowledgement is to educate and awaken those who are not aware, call into action and collaboration those who are, and provide clear, respectful steps toward healing, vetted through a process of Indigenous consultation. We recognize that we cannot wait for our governments and institutions to take adequate, meaningful reparative actions. We need reparations that work effectively to heal the hearts and minds of the individuals who form our communities.
We seek to engage people at an individual level working with what we do know and commit to shifting our relations with Indigenous Peoples now and in the future. While we individual citizens have limited power or opportunity to create the vast systemic changes Indigenous leaders are calling for, we support their analysis, calls to action, and struggle for justice by becoming accountable and taking responsibility for the individual role we have to play in the process of reparation.
We further recognize that reparative actions in the USA are overdue; while the efforts to achieve meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples have long since begun in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other places in the world.
For those who make the pledges outlined in this Citizens’ Acknowledgement and choose to sign and share it, our hope is that this will be a beginning that may inspire greater levels of awareness and supportive engagement with the Indigenous Peoples within the United States.
The Good Relations Pledge
We are making this pledge to acknowledge our awareness of a need to heal and create good relations with you, the Indigenous People of the lands now referred to as the United States of America. We have much to learn about the sovereign Indigenous lands that we occupy and draw our subsistence from, as well as the peoples who continue to steward and live in relation to these lands ‘since time immemorial.’ We recognize that our previous lack of education, acknowledgment, and solidarity - willful or not - empowers and perpetuates the legacy of colonial exploitation, land theft, racialized oppression and erasure, all of which contribute to the ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples.
We recognize and respect the tremendous resiliency of Indigenous communities and their leaders, who have fought, endured and negotiated tirelessly for their own survival and freedom from colonial oppression since ‘first contact’ by European colonizing nations on this continent. We respect and honor pre-existing relationships that Indigenous communities maintain with each other and with their lands, and we respect the memory of the Ancestors of this land. In the spirit of respect we are stepping forward now to improve our own individual relations, and ultimately to encourage healing as a collective.
In the spirit of recognition & respect, I the undersigned:
As a citizen of the United States of America, I acknowledge Indigenous Peoples as the sovereign and original caretakers of the lands and waters that now nurture me and all of us living here. I respectfully recognize that Indigenous Peoples, tribal groups and nations flourished in every part of this land for millennia prior to European colonization. I acknowledge that early American government campaigns wrongfully harmed Indigenous Peoples by forcibly removing them from their lands - most explicitly via the 1830 Indian Removal Act- which created a legacy of isolation, poverty and violence for Indigenous communities while simultaneously providing a path to safe settlement and prosperity for European-American citizens.
I further acknowledge that Indigenous People continue to suffer the greatest disparity in all aspects of human health, due to legal and geographical isolation and confinement, and that denial and ignorance of such disparity serves to perpetuate it.
I acknowledge that mainstream societal views on Indigenous Peoples, their lands and histories were predicated on a eurocentric worldview, and thus were heavily biased, untruthful, and ill-informed. I acknowledge that Indigenous Peoples are the most reliable source of factual information about their own history, traditional stories, artifacts, arts, fashions, and goods otherwise attributed to their specific cultures.
I pledge to learn more about Indigenous relations via their own sources to improve my understandings and to facilitate inter-cultural healing in my lifetime, (and)
I urge any leadership or community I am a part of to take steps to improve relations between our governments and on all levels of society, (and)
I will share this document with others who are ready to begin the acknowledgment process, (and)
I do this work with heart, mind and hope for healing so that we individuals - and our future generations can enjoy ‘good relations’ with Indigenous Peoples based on truth-telling and active reconciliation. May the healing continue in a good way.
An opportunity to sign is coming soon.
Dedicated to Carmen Baraka, Spirit Warrior, Native American Elder in our community. March 21st, 1948 - February 22nd, 2021
“All of our ancestors were once in circle. Women holding hands in prayer, sharing information in nature on Mother Earth. We are the healers, the ones with empathy and heart. It’s our turn, it is the female paradigm shift that will save us. I believe in women and girls, our strength, our wisdom. We have the key that can save this world for future generations. I would ask that anyone with even a small amount of Native in you, find whatever tribe that is your lineage and see in what way you can help. And for those who are non-Native I ask that you be informed and act with your heart. I know that many will rise to this occasion, it is time! This healing must happen if there ever will be healing for all peoples of this United States – because to walk on the bones of the First People, the ancestors, without respect or acknowledgment of their sacrifices we will not heal as a nation. No one has ever healed through untruths” Carmen Baraka
Trip to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2016
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