Indigenous Knowledge for Resistance,
Love, and Land: Lecciones for our Children, for our Future
In 2018 the screens of Turtle Island were set ablaze with the images of captured children. Small brown faces confused, angry, gritando. Thrust into activism at the borders. Demanding that government officials return their parents. Holding one another for assurance, safety, survival. We know these pictures already.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, they came for the children at 6 years old. They lied to, tricked, and punished their Indigenous parents. They weaponized “schools” to wipe out relationships of family, community, knowledge, and land.
Different eras, different forms of violence, but the tactics are the same: they go after the children, and inflict wounds generation upon generation.
The “education” of children and youth has been a key tool of the colonization process, and Indigenous knowledge has been crucial in our abilities to resist and reclaim a loving space for our children and youth. We invite you to explore the relationships between Indigenous Knowledge and educational practices at the K-12 level, as well as community and institutional programs for children and youth, and finally more broadly at the post-secondary level. Chicana/o/x studies has focused on using knowledge and educational practices for social justice and self-awareness. As it has become clear that Western knowledge is leading us to the destruction of an earth that is capable of sustaining us, Indigenous knowledge is not only healing, but essential to our survival. </sp<>
I was in my late twenties before I learned anything of the land that I was raised upon, the traditional territories of the Tongva, then Rosemead, California, East of East LA, desert and streams covered in concrete. In our schools, we built a curriculum of sugar cube missions that yellowed with the poison that had to be sprayed for the ants that were sure to find them. Classrooms of Chicanitos were instructed to imitate the padre missionary slave-owners, training our bodies into colonial habits of mind.
Whose land are you inhabiting? What education has been provided for you - or denied to you - about the traditional peoples of that land, and any outstanding land claims? Maybe you feel very connected to Indigenous peoples and knowledge. Maybe you identify as Indigenous, maybe as settler, maybe as both - simultaneously. Maybe the relationships were kept hidden from you. We invite you to consider the ways in which Indigenous knowledge informs your lives and work as Chicana/o/x/ Latina/o/x scholars, educators, students, artists, and community members. We ask you to think carefully about the differences between respectful sharing of Indigenous knowledge versus appropriation. Do you draw upon Indigenous authors to guide your research practices, to inform your writing, to enrich your classrooms? We invite you to offer your insights, experience and practice in incorporating Indigenous knowledge into your work.
We challenge you to explore how Indigenous knowledge is providing, or could provide, a more valuable curriculum to our children and youth. Several States have recently passed laws mandating Ethnic studies, Racial studies, and Native studies at the K-12 level, while others have attempted to ban these studies. At the University of New Mexico activist scholars have successfully attained initial approval for a graduate program for Chicana and Chicano Studies and a Native American Studies MA program. Public schools and universities are not the only site of meaningful learning for children and youth. Consider as well how Indigenous pedagogical practices have served as a foundation for community programs, for language pods, danza, social media, environmental education, youth caught within the criminal justice system, sex education, health/hospitals, story-telling at libraries, decolonizing museum education, drug addiction interventions, accommodating diverse abilities and creating inclusive learning environments, undocumented immigrant networking, queer children and youth, mental health supports, film-making, animation, music, and gaming.
Questions? email naccs @ naccs.org