We cannot begin without acknowledging how we got to the beginning.
I acknowledge the time, labor, and value of the works I enter a dialogue with.
The burden of the sins of colonialism weighs heavily on my soul. My relationship with the land I occupy is complicated. As the descendant of slaves that were forced to migrate to this continent, I understand colonialism as both participant and survivor. As I write, I acknowledge that I am living on the occupied ancestral lands of the Duwamish people. A people that are still here, continuing to honor and bring to light their ancient heritage. I am on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe.
I benefit from living on these occupied ancestral lands as an occupier and a survivor. The lessons I learn from Sovereign Indigenous Peoples who resist colonialism and systemic violence help me find ways to survive. As a student of a colonial institution of education built on occupied lands, my entire education is a result of systemic violence but simultaneously my education helps me to dismantle those same institutions. I have unending gratitude to the first people of Seattle for their stewardship and care for this land that I live and learn on. My gratitude is not enough. As an occupier, my gratitude will not erase the sins of my occupation of these lands. Decolonization requires real action to return the lands that were stolen from Sovereign Indigenous and First Nations Peoples.
“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.“The Purpose of Education” from Morehouse College student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, 1947
I would also like to thank my teachers, mentors, and professors who have helped me encounter the texts I enter a dialogue with and have created the foundation of the knowledge that allows me to engage with the texts. Without their syllabi, lectures, conversations with me, and labor none of this would be possible.
Thank you, Dr. Devon G. Peña, for always encouraging me to go outside my comfort zone and creating the foundation of my knowledge about colonialism, systemic violence, and activism. Your encouragement led me to take American Indian Studies 377 in spite of my initial fears about the course. This project is a result of your initial encouragement, and I cannot be more grateful that you challenged me to reconsider the class and enter the space in spite of my doubts. I would not be the person I am today without the knowledge you have passed on to your students and the encouragement you always give to participate in change. Thank you.
Thank you, Laura De Vos for quelling my fears about taking a class in American Indian Studies from a University that didn't find an Indigenous person to teach it. I also thank you for forgiving me for not initially trusting you with the course material. My conversations with you have given me alternate ways to view my relationship with Indigenous Peoples and their lands. When I started your class, I feared I was being asked to participate in colonial narratives of being grateful for advantages gained through the violence of colonialism and I compared all that was lost to colonialism to the empty, soulless gains of capitalism. You helped me understand that even though I hate living on colonized, stolen land I still benefitted from coming into contact with activists and scholars who gather in this area to seek justice, truth, reconciliation, and to decolonize America. Thank you.
To my peers in AIS 377, conversations with you have enlightened, awed, and brightened my life. Thank you for helping produce knowledge in our classroom, allowing me to learn from you, and for all your support and friendship. Thank you, Thuy Luu, Sarah Gould, Brenda Navarro, Cian Wolf Fox, Sydney Sherk, Amanda Funaro, and Lazarus Hart.
Thank you to my friends and family who emotionally supported me as I worked on the project, who listened to my drafts and ideas, and who tested the site to make sure it worked. Thank you, Joseph, Dad, KB, Jayla, Olivia, and Will.