Indigenous Peoples' Day:
Shifting Narratives with Resist Grantees Part I
Dear Resister,

On this day of collective national attention, we honor and uplift the voices, the fighting spirit, and the resilience of Indigenous peoples across the Americas. We also invite you to listen to, learn from, and directly support Indigenous-led Resist grantees who embody wisdom and are on the ground taking action for their sovereignty, their dignity, their health, as well as the wellbeing of planet earth today and every day.

This email is a two-part series written by grantees Colectivo Ilé and Ominira (formerly called Semillas). In part I, you will learn about how Colectivo Ilé is boldly reclaiming Columbus Day via Afro-Indigenous practices and their decolonial and anti-racist work on the island of Puerto Rico. In part II, you will hear from Ominira and how they're cultivating healing and spiritual spaces for trans and queer communities on the island as well.
About Colectivo Ilé
Colectivo Ilé's mission is to educate, organize and research to strengthen the anti-racist and decolonizing work leading to generate changes, psycho-social, cultural, economic, and political in and out of Puerto Rico community, academic, spiritual realm. They aim to form partnerships through community organizations with various sectors of society to affirm African roots and eradicate institutional, cultural, and individual racism in spaces inside and outside of Puerto Rico.
To us, Indigenous People’s Day has great significance as it is a way to take over what has been a celebration of a violent colonization process and the genocide of native people. Taking over Christopher Columbus’ day to reclaim, respond and celebrate the real history of the colonized native people is a way to provoke conversations that counteract the “master discourse.” We celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a rebellion against imperialism, colonization, and the displacement and genocide of native nations globally. 
[Image description: Youth dances in a colorful pink skirt, a black shirt, and a red mask, as an audience of people look on. The event AfroJuventudes is the closure of a 9-month political antiracist school where 51 students from all over Puerto Rico meet virtually every Saturday to ​​develop a healthy racial identity that strengthens and affirms their self-worth/image; as well as to understand racism, and its relationship to sexism and other forms of oppression.]
How has the legacy of Christopher Columbus, colonization, and US imperialism impacted your life and your work and how is your collective working to disrupt these legacies and systems?
The legacy of Christopher Columbus, colonization, and US imperialism has impacted us by the lack of political power and representation over our future. As a colony, Puerto Rico is not recognized as a country by the United States, Congress, or the United Nations. The United States Congress has all the power to make laws that overwrite our own Constitution. Colectivo Ilé, as a decolonial and antiracist community organization, has been working nonstop for almost 30 years to design workshops that dismantle anti-Black racism and analyze colonialism as the root cause of racism. 
What narratives about Christopher Columbus and Indigenous peoples are you working to disrupt and re-write?
[Image description: Youth wearing purple shirts that read "Prieta Caribe" in yellow lettering play drums as an audience behind them look on.]
There are many narratives that have to be disrupted. First, the rhetoric of the discovery of a place that was already inhabited by Indigenous peoples needs to be dismantled. The notion of docility and subjugation, and the distorted history of colonization we learn since elementary school, needs to be decolonized. Through our work, Colectivo Ilé narrates other stories, we humanize Indigenous bodies and celebrate their legacies in order to disrupt narratives that present Columbus, Spaniards, and European conquerors as heroes and saviors. We have been rewriting our history by adding and uplifting the contributions of our wise and maroon Indigenous and African ancestors. 
Tell us about the work your collective is doing to reimagine and seed a new world that honors our relationships with one another, the land, and our ancestors? 
We reimagine a society, local and global, where persons, groups, communities, and nations can enjoy ever-greater levels of integral wellbeing and the opportunity to fully develop free of the hindrances created by the inequities and disparities that women of color in particular, and people of color in general experience. 
 
We envision individuals, groups, communities, and organizations increasingly attaining their sense of collective power, actively exercising their right to self-determination, and steadily moving toward autonomy, freedom, justice, equitable interdependent relationships, and a genuine co-creation of a better world. Colectivo Ilé seeks to have an active role in creating such a world by promoting consciousness-in-action through community organizing as key processes for collective development and self-determination. We work with the utmost integrity, exploring decolonization methodologies to engage with our communities. This requires a process of change that is simultaneously “from the bottom up”—community-based demand for institutional change and of viable alternatives—and “from the inside out”—where communities of struggle work on their own internalized oppression.
What kind of support does your collective need and what is the best way for folks to tap in and help?
[Image description: Five youth and an instructor have arms up as if they are dancing. They all wear masks and 4/5 youths wear a black and white t-shirt that reads: "AfroJuventudes".]
The philanthropic support must spin its strategy to align with racial justice movements. To end oppressive systems, it is crucial to trust and invest in the leadership of those most affected by these systems. It is our community organizations that know intimately the particular needs of the communities we serve. The support of funds without restrictions or for operational support is vital to be able to execute efficiently and in a sustained manner, our misión and vision. This type of support, without restrictions, allows us to focus on achieving our impact objectives, rather than relying on funding restricted to projects. We need flexible resources to address the particular challenges faced by groups struggling to eradicate racism in all its manifestations.
Visit our website colectivo-ile.org/

Follow us on social media at @colectivoile (Instagram) and Facebook


Stay tuned for part two of this email series!


In celebration and solidarity,

Kathy
Director of Communications and Storytelling

p.s. There’s a new world coming; Resist grantees are on the ground, ensuring that. Join us in making their vision a reality and become a movement sustainer today.


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