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Returning to Our Way of Being and Knowing


Sain Bainaa Cultural Survival Community,

I am honored to present you the new issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly solely dedicated to the subject of decolonization. As we dive into this complicated and nuanced topic, we could not help but notice how similarly and differently ways colonization have affected many communities around the world, having robbed them of their lands and resources, identities, languages, spirituality, and ways of being. Nevertheless, despite the 500+ years of colonization, Indigenous communities from the North, South, East, and West are returning to their traditional lifeways, unpacking trauma, and building resilience. In this issue, we share some of the incredible work Indigenous communities are doing to re-Indigenize and decolonize by returning to their traditional ways of being and knowing; telling their histories; relearning their Indigenous languages; reorganizing their governance and organizational systems to pre-colonial structures; promoting Indigenous aesthetics and arts; revisiting gender identities, gender balance, and inclusiveness; changing their relationships with nature and the natural world and relearning how to communicate in ways that are aligned with the natural world; as well as decolonizing thinking and belief systems imposed by colonizers.

As Edson Krenak Naknnanuk (Krenak), CS staff member, shares, “Colonial trauma, and therefore our liberation, affects all spheres of our lives: our being (who am I, and who is ‘the other?’ How do I feel in relation to the other?); our power (who commands and who obeys? Who occupies the places of power? Who decides? Who leads?); our knowing (which knowledge is most valid? Who seems to have more authority when speaking?); and our doing (who has access to education, to the creation of valid knowledge, etc.? Who produces or co-creates? What is the impact of the making on the environment? Who benefits from the making?)... Decolonizing is a process that starts with identifying and analyzing the unequal power relations.”

Internally, at Cultural Survival, we are working to decolonize and indigenize our practices and operations by incorporating Indigenous cosmologies and ways of being into our day-to-day work. Over the past two years, we have been reviewing our internal policies and drafting new documents through a staff-led process. Over the next few months, we will be sharing the results of our work and releasing our gender balance policy, values and principles, strategic plan, and programmatic priorities. As leaders in the field, we hope this work will serve as a basis for discussion for other organizations and a model for change in working towards a world that is more inclusive, just, equitable, and respectful of nature and all living things. We are honored that you are part of this journey with us. Our nearly 50-year legacy of advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous self-determination, cultures, and political resilience is thanks to you, our community, who help make our work possible. Join us in shifting the narrative and resources to support Indigenous solutions and leadership to build a better world for us all. As we approach our 50th anniversary in 2022, we have an ambitious goal to raise $500,000 by June 1, 2022, for our #CS50 campaign! We are counting on you for your continued support and commitment to uplifting Indigenous rights.


In solidarity and gratitude,

Galina Angarova (Buryat)
Executive Director

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