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The Work Is Possible

Thank you, Barbara, for calling our attention to this. [See previous article.]

At the recent Native Leaders’ Workshop for North America, led by Marcie Rendon (the International Liberation Reference Person for Native Americans) and Tim Jackins, Marcie had compiled a list of former RC Native leaders who were not present at the workshop. Issues surrounding the suicide of family members were high on the list of things that people were not able to overcome in order to continue leading in RC. It is a problem in all Native communities that I know of. The effects of genocide and “historical trauma” are real and ongoing.

Most of us at the Native Leaders’ Workshop were Native raised white or Native raised in other constituencies. The clear challenge put out to us was to discharge what we have to discharge to be able to continue to be allies to Native people raised and currently living Native.

Marcie has outlined a series of steps for us to follow, which include discharging about the identity we were raised in and “going home” to our land, our communities, and our people and discharging on what it is like to be there.

For most of us raised white—with or without Native heritage—it is very difficult to look at the level of oppression on the reservations. When my partner and I were first developing the RC Community on the reservation close to us, we had attention for only about forty-five minutes. Then we would find a way to slip away and have a little mini-session if we could.

There is no magic to this work and no way I have seen to do it with any pretense. One simply has to get close to Native people or Native culture and discharge on whatever comes up. The closer you get, the more you will have to discharge—and the more you will be able to discharge.

Being cast, myself, in many oppressor roles, I can say that it is very hard to discharge from any oppressor position, but the work is possible despite whatever feelings of numbness one has. It is possible to persist and move forward with more attention.  

The major work at the Native workshop was to look at genocide and the oppression of Native people and discharge on early defeats. We also spent some time strategizing about ways to remember our connection and break the isolation we each struggle with on this issue. It is very difficult to do this work alone and very difficult inside the oppression to not become isolated.

The workshop happened not far from the homelands of one of the Native peoples most famously targeted by the U.S. violence of genocide. As soon as I made plans to go to the workshop, I had to start having sessions on the violence that was and continues to be acted out so close by. There was no way I could be that close to the reservation and have any attention at all without a whole bunch of discharge.

Making the decision to go toward Native people and Native lands is important, though it is not easy. I am aware that from all the work I have done in RC, I have saved several lives. There is no better work than that. That is something one can always feel good about.

Dan Nickerson

Freeport, Maine, USA

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00