What Do We Mean By “Decolonizing”?
The first thing that every person living on North American soil needs to know is: you are living on stolen land. The second thing you need to know is: Native American tribes are all unique, and they are all still here. They are sovereign nations with national anthems, languages, religious and spiritual traditions, cultures, cuisine, and more.
Once you have understood these two simple things, then you can begin the work of decolonizing. Decolonization is work, and the burden is on white and privileged people to do it. The business world is not exempt.
1. Throw out everything you think you know about indigenous nations.
As stated above, each nation is unique. Each nation has its language, traditions, and so much more. Take the time to learn about whose land you’re on. Learn about their past and their present from their perspective.
2. View your employees as people and not cogs in a machine.
If you’re going to begin the work of decolonization, start in your own company. View your business the way Indigenous people view their nations. When you put your empathy and resources into the people who make your business run, you will get back what you put in. Your company is your community, and in the worlds of Native people, the community is everything. It may not be in the form of more money, but it may come back as higher productivity, a less toxic work environment, and happier employees.
3. Hire Native people!
Whether in a consulting capacity (like, ahem, us) or a full-time position, consider making it a priority to hire more Indigenous people in your company and make your company a comfortable environment for them. If you aren’t in a hiring position in your company, say something!
Decolonization is an important term, and it has encompassed a lot of things for Native peoples. Do your research, read articles written by Native journalists, activists, and writers. Listen to Native people when they talk about what decolonization means to them.