We are sharing our differences in indigenous experience that have to do not only with differences in indigenous cultures, but also in national contexts and colonialisms. And we are sharing lessons learned in challenging colonialism, including ongoing colonial relations inside the academy. Once we not only survive, but begin to do anti-colonial work in more privileged positions within the university or in government, what are the common challenges we encounter inside these institutions and within fields that continue to be integral to colonial projects (e.g. engineering, genomics, anthropology, development studies, natural resource management)? How do we work in different indigenous and national contexts to address these challenges?
This is why I am here, and why I have become so interested in networking with indigenous peoples internationally. Although I inhabit an anthropology department in the United States, I am interested not for anthropological reasons. I am an ethnocentric Dakota after all. Anthropologically, I am most interested in the culture of my own people. I was raised in Dakota communities, both rural and urban, and thus I was a Dakota long before I was an “indigenous” person. But over the last dozen years I have grown through networking and travel into someone who also identifies as indigenous. And I have become committed to my relations with indigenous thinkers from around the world for reasons that have everything to do with being a Dakota. Because I am committed to Dakota sovereignty and thriving, and because I understand the power of being connected to a people who are tied to particular landscapes and waterscapes, which have been simultaneously assaulted by a colonial state, I have become deeply interested in and committed to aiding well-being and anti-colonial possibilities for indigenous peoples around the globe. I understand how important it is to Dakota flourishing to resist the colonial state through cultural and political work and I see that indigenous peoples in different parts of the world have made uneven progress in cultural thriving and political resistance. Thus I approach my work with other indigenous people from a Dakota and more broadly an indigenous standpoint.