Examination of allyship: Native Nations
According to Anne Bishop, “Allies are people who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from [their] society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns.” Using Bishop’s framework, one might self-ascribe to intra- ally relations – within a given group/ society/ governing.
Allyship with a sovereign Native Nations might be framed as inter, or between, societies/ governances. An Indigenous (sovereign) Native Nation may, from the voice of leadership, initiate an invitation/ ascribe someone from “outside” the community as an ally. This relationship is viewed as mutually beneficial. Inter-societal non-native allies carry subsequent non-native rights and responsibilities toward maintaining this unique “allyship” with sovereign Peoples. The following voices of counsel call attention to potential duties, highlighting humility, community, integrity and love.
“Allies cannot be self-defined. They must be claimed by the people they seek to ally with.“
Native Nations Allyship: Non-Indigenous Rights & Responsibilities
Rev. J.R. Norwood, Ph. D. (Nanticoke-Lenape) – Allyship…
- Always wait for an invitation to participate in anything;
- know that the tribal community has total authority over its own identity, culture, traditions, policies, practices, ceremonies, and beliefs;
- when a tribal person avoids eye contact, becomes silent, or turns away (even slightly) when you are talking, it may be an indication that they are politely trying to end the conversation or that you have overstepped;
- traditional tribal values are adhered to at varying intensities from individual to individual;
- a tribal chief is a head of state. “Outsiders” should be mindful that even though they may know the tribal leaders, it does not mean they are entitled to the same type of interaction with them as the tribal people may have.
Nora “Touching Leaves” Thompson Dean (Lenape) – Allyship…
- DO NOT go to work among the Native Americans with the idea that you are doing them a favor. It will show through in your attitude;
- DO NOT refuse to go into a house if you have been invited to come in;
- It is an insult to refuse food among my people (unless you are allergic to it;)
- DO NOT interrupt when someone is answering your question;
- DO NOT refuse to attend any ceremonies if you are invited. If you have reasons why you cannot go, tell them;
- DO NOT take photos or make recordings without permission.
Cara Lee Blume, Ph. D. (anthropologist/ archeologist; non-native ally) – Allyship…
- Paddle your own canoe, always remember you are NOT Native;
- be humble;
- be quiet.;
- be discreet;
- be polite, always remember that you are an outsider;
- be respectful of the culture;
- be patient – always remember that your priorities may not be those of the community;
- be grateful – never presume that you deserve [acceptance.]
FCRC’s position on ally relations, Guidelines for those Seeking Healing Relations with Indigenous Peoples: Lessons of Lenapehoking, is posted on our Call To Action page.
Lynn Gehl Ph. D. (Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe) Ally Bill of Responsibilities
- Accept the responsibility of learning and reading more about their role as effective allies;
- do not take up the space and resources, physical and financial, of the oppressed group;
- reflect on and embrace their ignorance of the group’s oppression and always hold this ignorance in the forefront of their minds;
- are fully grounded in their own ancestral history and culture. Effective allies must sit in this knowledge with confidence and pride; otherwise the “wannabe syndrome” could merely undermine the Indigenous people’s efforts;
- do not act out of guilt, but rather out of a genuine interest in challenging the larger oppressive power structures.
Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign How to be an Ally to Indigenous Peoples
- Remember that all beings (animals and plants) are your relatives not your resources;
- read Native Authors; support Native craftspeople, businesses and events;
- learn about the people indigenous to wherever you are;
- read and promote the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- don’t co-opt Native cultures or ceremonies;
- live with gratitude and lightly on the earth;
- slow down and listen more than you talk;
- reach out to you Indigenous neighbors;
- learn about and reject the “Doctrine of Discovery;”
- question and resist stereotypes including team names and mascots;
- respect and support Indigenous sovereignty.