Everyone is indigenous from somewhere

Jared Qwuestenuxun Williams is a father, husband, Indigenous foods educator and award winning writer. I learn a lot from Jared’s posts. This one landed and from the response I got on my own feed, upon sharing it, it reverberated with others too. (You can support his work on https://www.patreon.com/qwustenuxun

I wonder if one of the stumbling points to true reconciliation is those of us who are newcomers/settlers/non-indigenous (what do we even call ourselves?) secretly wonder that, if we truly wholeheartedly acknowledge the Indigenous, we erase ourselves. We are left with nothing. No place to go. Nowhere to belong. It is existentially threatening, and so we continue a generations-deep practice of dismissing, denying, belittling, harming. We get stuck in a thought-trap of “I don’t want to be a bad person, but I don’t want to be a no-person, either. And if I acknowledge the harm, theft of land, attempted genocide, that made way for me to be here, I feel as though I might start to evaporate… or at least my “right” to be here, will… and then what?”)

If, on the other hand, we are able to seat ourselves in our own ancestral stories – the complexities and losses and adventures – we can move into a place of healthy relationship. We can show up. We can listen, without ducking/hiding our faces or getting defensive. We can ask how we can contribute. We can be part of huge cultural reclamations and healings, when we say, oh, this colonization thing didn’t really work for any of us. Let’s dream up some better ways, together.

Over to Jared.

We are all Indigenous from somewhere,

Some of us are even Indigenous to many places.

I can say with experience that visiting somewhere your ancestors lived that you’ve never been is incredible.

I’ve visited my great great great Grandmother’s Castle at Carbisdale and walked the streets of Amsterdam, a place my Dutch ancestors would have frequented.

In both cases the surreal feeling of connection to a place I was seeing for the first time was noteworthy.

This makes me think more about this term ‘white people’ and how many white people feel cultureless, disconnected, or even resentful of their ancestry.

But, even as someone with Indigenous Ancestry in Canada, I feel for the lost people of colonization.

I saw a Tiktok the other day of a wyt dude talking about how he didn’t have land, he lived in an apartment that he’d paid exorbitant rent for. Saying that he’d give land back if he could, but his ancestors didn’t even colonize well enough for him to have land. Later calling himself a Grunt of the Colonizers.

It made me think how many non Indigenous Canadians were also broken in colonization. How many families were broken as people moved around, each generation disconnecting from their family and their roots, to move somewhere west. Generation after generation breaking apart until people don’t even know who they are, where they come from, or what gifts their ancestors gave them. Now, without a holdfast of culture or ancestry people identify as Canadian, American, or just white. Forgetting their ancestral homelands, cultures, languages, and traditions.

This is no accident, people who are individualistic, or in nuclear families, are much easier to put to work in factories or super walmarts. Than people who are community or family centric, who work to support each other. This also makes it easier to replace the old cultures, family values, and concepts of work life balance with new modern versions. Eventually this new culture replaces the old ones so well that people forget their connection to each other and to the land.

But we can get it back, we can find our lineage, our traditions, our cultures, and bring them with us. Celebrate our differences and connect with our families and communities in new and old ways that so many desire. Sure some of us will need to combine, or even pick from, our cultural ancestry. But I feel that capitalism and colonization have done not only a great disservice to the Indigenous people of Canada, but the Indigenous people of the world.

We are not all indigenous to where we live, but we are all Indigenous from somewhere. It’s time we pull back the curtain that has been pulled over our eyes and reveal that we all come from amazing cultures that did amazing things, before capitalism created colonization and turned the world upside down.

Picture is of our ancestral river in Cowichan, the Quw’utsun Sta’lo’.

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