By Lily Mendoza, from “Healing Historical Trauma: Ethnoautobiography as Decolonizing Practice,” a talk delivered at the Graduate Center, University of Pretoria, August 16, 2016:
Indeed, there is hope in remembering that for the majority of our time on the planet, we have lived very differently than we do today. We did not make war a way of life; we did not treat the Earth as mere resource to do with as we please; we did not deem ourselves the most important creatures on the planet; we did not always enslave; we did not take more than we needed and without giving back; we did not build businesses out of imprisoning huge numbers of our population, or out of producing weapons of mass destruction or psychotropic drugs meant to numb our pain and boredom; we did not take over every square inch of land driving every other species out their habitat and into extinction, etc. In other words, if, for the majority of our life on the planet, we did not do any of these things—i.e., we did not rape, pillage, and plunder—surely we can stop doing so again and start desiring and working for a different way to live on our shared planet?
For far too long, our modern culture has been on an unrelenting campaign to depict any other way of life that doesn’t rely on massive consumption and expenditure of energy as a worthless way to live, but the time has come—and Mother Earth is speaking in no uncertain terms—when that campaign needs to end, when we need to learn to sit again at the feet of our living indigenous elders and invoke the spirits of our Ancestors to teach us once more how to be a blessing on the planet—not the plague that our species has become, to help us re-learn again the Original Instructions that teach us how to live in balance and without destroying the only planet we have.