Remembering who we are

[size=10pt]White is short for “socialized into a Eurocentered frame of mind.” White is the name of forgetting. Forgetting so much of how we came to be where we are . . . Boxed into a box that likes to forget its name. I do not walk alone. Like other white men something walks with me. With me walks a shadow. Before me I project the shadow of forgetting where I came from. Behind me trails the shadow of the tears of native people. Below me I march on the shadow of the lands my peoples have raped. Above me looms the shadows of the spirits which I am blind to. All around me walks the shadow of domination, witchhunts, genocides, holocausts, sexism, racism. I do not walk alone.’[/size] - Jürgen W. Kremer

Lately I’ve been reading a few papers by students and advisors of the Indigenous Mind program of Naropa Univeristy. The founder of the program, Apela (Pam) Colorado, originally developed the program to help students with Native American ancestry connect with their heritage. But as a person of both Native American and European descent herself, she recognized that people of European and other ancestries had a need for such a program as well. Since then many people of Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Indonesian and other ancestries have completed the program, and they have made genuine connections with the traditions and culture of their ancestors, as well as breaking free from the cage of the Westernized mind.

What does this have to do with Rewilding? I posted about that on the facebook page recently, and I am going to repost it here:

[size=10pt]" To truely Rewild ourselves, I believe that we cannot deny the baggage of our Western culture, which includes the same greed, assimilativeness, and taker-mentality we can see demonstrated throughout history by such groups as the Vikings, the Romans, the British Empire, and the warmongers of the USA military-industrial-complex. We are who we are because we inherited it from our ancestors. Until we admit the inner Viking or Roman or whoever that exists in our heads–in our Western-minded view of everything–we cannot possibly succeed in Rewilding. The monsters in our heads will simply follow us into the wilderness. If we want to truly ally ourselves with the Saami, the Native American tribes, the Maori, the Aboriginal people of Australia, the indigenous people of Africa, the native Hawaiians, or anyone else that still holds their original, tribal connection to the land, we cannot continue to deny our monsters, or claim that they are long gone. Tracing the monsters to their source though, is the first step of healing this."[/size]

What I called monsters, Jürgen Kremer calls shadows, and Martín Prechtel would call our burden of ghosts.

Here are some of the specific papers I have been reading:

Erin Langley, paper submitted toward Masters Degree in the Indigenous Mind Program:

Atava Garcia Swiecicki, paper submitted toward Masters Degree in the Indigenous Mind Program:

Jürgen W. Kremer, advisor to the Indigenous Mind Program:

If you would like to go even deeper, the following two books were recommended to me by my friend Paula who graduated from Naropa University with a Phd in “Recovery of Indigenous Mind”.

Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, by Linda Tuhiwai Smith

Yurugu : An African Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, by Dr. Marimba Ani (free pdf)
and also at

I would love to discuss this topic further with people who are interested, but we might like to consider moving the discussion to a non-public forum.


Thanks for all of this, Monica.

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And then here is my next question…

Programs like the Indigenous Mind Program at Naropa University, and perhaps also programs like Bolad’s Kitchen (although I know less about that one), seem custom tailored to people who are on a largely solo mission to reclaim their ancestral heritage within the constraints of modern society. These organizations provide a substitute for the tribe, clan or indigenous and/or traditional community few of us have in modern society. To function within the Western model, these programs offer college degrees and/or educational retreats/intensives. But where is the community for these students after they graduate, (beyond the micro-community of their fellow students)?

Also, these programs are great for folks who are not tied to family responsibilities, jobs, etc, and can afford them. But what about those of us (I am thinking Rewilders here) who are reaching to reclaim our ancestral roots with our families, and with our communities, (and in the process may have eschewed well-paying jobs necessary to pay for advanced college education, or to go on retreats?)

So I am wondering if there is a way for both of these models to work together. Where those who can afford the time and tuition for intensive learning can do so knowing that there is a like-minded community outside the educational institutions to offer emotional and cultural support. And where those who cannot leave their families and responsibilities to pursue educational degrees can be connected with people with more time to pursue deeper layers of knowledge. But that together, all of us would be able to celebrate and apply our combined knowledge and experience to the creation of a real, living culture rooted in our Ancestors’ traditions.

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I’m in the opposite situation; I know Bolad’s Kitchen well and don’t know Naropa at all.

I think all your concerns are ones I have too, and the community around Bolad’s Kitchen deals with them somewhat well, although in the end it is still leaving your job and home for two weeks of travel. Bolad’s Kitchen has kid’s activities, moms with in-arms infants are specially accommodated. Most or all of the “Riddle winners” (a special yearly scholarly challenge that nets you a scholarship) year after year while I was attending the school were moms - something that I think very indicative of the culture of the school. Though never said overtly per se, a goal of the school is to grow a network of self-sustaing communities doing this work in their hometowns. To that end there are intimate and friendly feasts and storytelling events that Bolad’s Kitchen students put on in Portland, Olympia, Eugene, Ashland, etc. (just talking about Oregon/Washington area) to sustain and build their efforts and relationships in this work. It is my sense too that these are open gatherings for folks of kindred spirit and interest.

I am very excited about Bolad’s Kitchen and how they are tackling this net of challenges - I intend to pick up where I left off in my studies there as soon as possible.


I don’t have much to add at the moment, other than to say that I love what you wrote Monica. Thank you for sharing this and starting this conversation!

Thanks Willem for adding your thoughts, and thanks Mindy and Peter for following the conversation.

I think what I’m really trying to get at here, is how might we work within the context of Rewilding and Rewilding communities to address these shadows or ghosts? And in reaching back to our “wild” ancestry, how do we reconnect with our lost legacy of “wild” traditions in a genuine and non-contrived way? Naropa and Bolad’s Kitchen are the only groups I know of who are attempting to do anything like that. But I sense the desire of many in the Rewilding community to do the same sort of thing, (although there is the additional challenge of trying to connect with ancestors from as much as 8,000 or 10,000 years ago, rather than just a couple hundred to a couple of thousand years ago as the Naropa students seem to have focused on).

Willem, do you feel that your journey of ancestral re-connection is sufficiently supported (outside of the occasional 2 week long Bolad’s class) by the extended Bolad community in Portland? Do you feel that there is much (or any) crossover between that and what you see happening in the Portland Rewild community?

Peter, might you be interested in exploring this topic at an introductory level within the context of a Rewild Portland free skills class? It seems like it could follow the model already created by the “Storytelling” and “Creating your Own Ritual” classes that have been held during the previous winters, and would be a great way to gauge local interest, with the possibility of developing more intensive classes or other opportunities to explore things more deeply as a group.

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Hi all,
Did this topic sort of drop off, or was it picked up elsewhere? I’m searching around the forum for themes related to “reconnecting to ancestry, culture, heritage”, etc. Thanks much! :slight_smile:

Hi Tracie,
I’ve been trying to get this topic going for awhile, here, on facebook, and in real-life. It seems like many are either not sufficiently driven to pursue it, or are perhaps intimidated by it. There are certainly more on facebook who show interest, but unfortunately the larger environment there attracts many folks who seem to enjoy controversy, negativity, and belittlement of others.

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I’m not sure how I missed this, but Monica I’ll finally answer your question, or at least try:

Willem, do you feel that your journey of ancestral re-connection is sufficiently supported (outside of the occasional 2 week long Bolad's class) by the extended Bolad community in Portland? Do you feel that there is much (or any) crossover between that and what you see happening in the Portland Rewild community?

Yes? and Yes? Haha. I mean, it certainly is something I never stop thinking about and working on, along with Jana. The only thing in the way of it is the whirlwind of the rat race. We had an ancestor supper at our house in November and invited friends and family.

What support do you think is missing?

Maybe it isn’t a lack of support so much, as perhaps a tendency for most people to be afraid of looking intensely and unflinchingly at where they come from? But I am gradually starting to think this is more of a systemic cultural problem rather than a personal problem for folks. But no, the rat race isn’t helping in this regard.

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Yes, Mona_Rose, I see that tendency too. Your comment made me wonder why you see (or saw) that more of a systemic cultural problem than a personal problem? Apparently you saw it differently before…

Some other aspects that I regularly struggle with:

  • Finding it difficult to find words to explain to others what I (re)search for.
  • Finding it difficult to find “a way in” even when the direction of the conversation invites the topic;
  • When I finally do find words that I feel express what keeps me occupied (pun(?) intended), others may still not quite understand. E.g. when trying to explain the concept “indigenous research”, it recently got understood as “researching indigenous culture” rather than as a research paradigm. Have to try again some other time. :slight_smile:
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I feel intimidated by, and interested in this topic.