Friday, October 16, 2015

Our Struggles Are Not the Same: Inspired Solidarity with Turtle Island First Nations Women by Pegi Eyers

"Women of Colour" by Dazaungee

Women everywhere are waking up in unprecedented numbers from the patriarchal mass delusion that dominates women, the Earth and tribal peoples that live in connection to Her. It has taken us a couple of millennia to finally rebel against the horrors and inequalities of white male supremacy (!) and our liberation is well underway. We are working hard within a vast coalition to shift our society to the feminine values that embody cooperation and inclusion instead of hierarchy and control. There is evidence everywhere of a collective movement toward the Divine Feminine paradigm promoting biophilia, personal and planetary healing, community cohesiveness, earth-connected sustainability and peaceful co-existence. Yet, our liberation will fall short until we demand full human rights for marginalized groups and act in solidarity with indigenous women, as we are being asked at this time to choose between collaborating with, or resisting racial injustice.

Any kind of racism perpetuates the division between women, and sabotages the potential for us to work together as Allies and “Sisters in Spirit.” There is not a lot of common ground in feminist ideology, as white feminism has failed to acknowledge the historic differences between white identity and that of indigenous women, and white feminists have incorrectly assumed that non-native and native women are working through the same liberation process. Yet, our oppressions are not interchangeable, as white women seek to reject or overthrow the patriarchy, while indigenous women are primarily working toward the recovery of their traditional culture, sovereignty and self-determination. It does not seem to occur to white feminists that the struggle in the dominant society for women’s rights has no equivalent in indigenous resistance efforts that seek decolonization.

To make things even more complicated, patriarchal oppression did not exist in indigenous societies, and is a colonial overlay, the agenda being to devalue both genders and set up false hierarchies where none existed before. Traditional indigenous societies were egalitarian and based on the model of the consensus circle, with the emphasis being more on gender harmony than gender equality. Many indigenous societies have never relinquished their traditional matrifocal or matrilineal structures, and the ancient matriarchies of Europe provide models for their descendants today. In the pre-colonial Haudenosaunee world, as earthkeepers and life-givers the Clan Mothers held the highest authority, and were highly-skilled at making decisions affecting the well-being of the whole tribe.

Today, the majority of Turtle Island indigenous women deny the universalist notion of a Global Sisterhood, and reject the principles of modern feminism by situating it as a movement directed entirely by white privilege. As white feminists, we need to remain aware of the legacy of colonialism (which is our own history), and to value First Nations counter-narratives as fully equal to our own. There is no level ground in this coming together, no “automatic harmony,” and to expect otherwise is to dismiss native identity and impose yet another form of assimilation. We need to be aware that in all sectors of culture and society (Goddess Spirituality included), neo-liberalism claims a universalist, humanist approach while having an effect on the oppressed that is the exact opposite.

Indigenous women may also object to the idea that we share identity or experience simply by virtue of being women, and by possessing the same nurturing and reproductive anatomy. But many would agree that the IK-based tenets of Goddess Spirituality are comparable to their own indigenous knowledge (IK). As a point of mutual liberation, there is much evidence that the empowerment of women in our time and the resurgence of women in governance and spiritual life is culturally inclusive. The prominence of women in key leadership roles continues to rise in Turtle Island First Nations community as well as in the dominant society. Recovery from colonialism has no timeline, but it may be possible to embody at some point the heart-knowing that all women, both native and non-native, are the frequency holders for the global recovery of IK and the paradigm shift to earth-centered values.

As the descendants of the Settler Society, we can examine what was lost through diaspora, and how the stories of our disconnect must be at the root of our ongoing spiritual hunger and yearning for holistic earth-connected community. Clearly the exile from our own IK is the contributing factor to our romanticization and appropriation from the vibrancy of other cultures. Yet, as we reclaim our own earth-based spiritualities that value reciprocity with nature and the Ancestors, we must ensure that our work as Allies does not replicate colonialism, or impact indigenous women in the Americas with more negativity, such as white perspectivism, knowledge domination or cultural appropriation. We can be accountable for our white privilege in a realistic way, and give back to First Nations community as Allies in their struggles for racial justice. Call me a dreamer, but could our love for Mother Earth be the force that unites us all?

By Pegi Eyers. Excerpt from the essay “Our Struggles Are Not the Same: Inspired Solidarity with Turtle Island First Nations Women” published in Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak, a Girl God Anthology.

Pegi Eyers is the author of Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, a brand-new book that explores strategies for intercultural competency, healing our relationships with Turtle Island First Nations, decolonization, recovering an ecocentric worldview, rewilding, creating a sustainable future and reclaiming peaceful co-existence in Earth Community.


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