I have been here on Turtle Island for the past 3 weeks for many reasons, but largely to conduct a range of discussions and research on the Doctrine of Discovery. Through our He Tirohanga ki Tai: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery art exhibition, through panel discussions, through community discussions, through interviews and through United Nations interventions – I have twisted and turned this issue of the Doctrine of Discovery around and examined it from multiple angles, and I have come to a couple of conclusions… probably most of them I already knew, but they have crystallised in their importance.
- Papatūānuku is crying out for us to wake up. For over 500 years – since the Catholic church declared that European Christians held exceptional levels of entitlement to non-white, non-christian lands, minerals, waters, animals, and that the peoples of those lands (Indigenous peoples) were expendable – our planet has undergone a destructive experience based upon this racist, greedy, and unjust ideology. Today what that looks like is an extremely small group of people benefitting from global corporate empires. It looks like all of us behaving in a way that does not honour our relationship to Papatūānuku, and our dependency upon her. That cry can be heard in unprecedented extinction rates. It can be heard in the loss of ecological beauty. It can be heard in climate disaster after climate disaster. It can be heard in our Indigenous youth suicide rates. I can be heard in the heartbreaking numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Papatūānuku is crying out, and I don’t know what it will take for us to hear her.
- Truth is the first step in the journey to justice. If we cannot face the truth, we have no place pretending to care about a pathway to justice. The ugly, brutal, whole truth about the cost of Imperial expansion around the world must be told, in order to fully understand how to right our course.
- Racism against Indigenous peoples is an extra kind of difficult for settler colonial governments to address – because it requires more economic sacrifice than any other kind of contrition. As far away as they are from addressing most kinds of racism – they are even further away from addressing that towards Indigenous peoples.
- Re-enacting colonial acts of invasion has huge negative implications for these goals.
- This is the most difficult part: Colonizers have a lot of work to do, that Indigenous people cannot do for them. We can speak our Indigenous truth, but it will take the colonizer to dismantle the power structure that keeps them at the top. It will take them facing the truth, accepting the truth, committing to change, and then implementing change. It will take them giving up power, giving back lands, stepping down from their platforms, and decentering themselves. They must do this for their own sake, as well as that of Papatūānuku. It’s the most difficult because… I don’t know what it will take for them to do that. I’ve never known power to disestablish itself.
I, for one, am going to pray – to all ancestors and Ātua – for colonizers to come to this realisation before it is too late.