Celebrating indigenous roots while advocating for parrot conservation at a Bird Festival in Catacamas, Honduras 2018
It's a tricky thing to be a nonprofit in this day and age of increasing awareness. Here at One Earth Conservation we raise funds so that we can assist communities who desire to protect their parrot populations in the Americas, and yet this income derives from enterprises and investments that exist because of the invasion, decimation, extraction, and colonizing of the people and wildlife of the Americas. The process of colonization by settlers laid waste to communities and habitats as land was stolen and life ruined. Anthropologists, economists, and philosophers have argued that nonprofits continue the colonization process by benefiting from a system that is built upon the violence of the very beings and human communities we cherish and seek to preserve. What are we to do? Perhaps we can take a clue from Adam Lewis who wrote, "There can be no resistance on stolen land without resistance to settler colonialism." How then do we at One Earth Conservation resist when our organization and projects exist, work, and dream in what is clearly stolen land and when we benefit from the settler history? I personally benefit as my family history is purely of European lineage, and though many of my ancestors were oppressed, they were also part of the wave that benefited from colonization.
Here generally is then what I and others at One Earth Conservation try to do:
1. Name the domination and oppressive history and practices that make up our lives in the Americas.
2. Centralize indigenous resurgence as part of our practice and praxis.
3. Reimagine what wildlife advocacy looks like knowing that it is happening on stolen land and in the context of white supremacy and oppressive capitalism.
4. Continually ask ourselves how we can decolonize our practices and thinking, knowing that we will err again, and again, and cannot heal ourselves or the world alone.
5. Forgive ourselves and others and begin again, and again, in love.
Extinct Carolina Parakeet, once abundant in North America. Colonialism wiped out cultures of people and parrots.
Specifically we enact these guidelines as we:
1. Seek indigenous communities and organizations with which to form alliances. Ask them how we might work with them in protecting their lands, wildlife, and way of life. Then follow their lead. We currently work with indigenous territories in La Moskitia, Honduras and in Guyana. All other communities we work with are made up of a mix of those of indigenous ancestry and those from other regions of the world.
2. Invite native peoples in the regions where we work on our organizational teams.
3. Invite native parrot species in the regions we work on our organizational teams. We ask, "What would the parrot say?"
4. Scrutinize our use of resources and donations so that the gift is maximally returned to those whose land and lives have been disrupted by colonialism
5. Highlight the autonomy and effort of the people and parrots with whom we work, such as doing at our Holiday Parrot Party and Fundraiser where we show 3 films about the lives of the indigenous people and their parrot relationships.
Children in one of our projects in La Moskitia, Honduras (photo by Dayana Serano)
What can you do on this Giving Tuesday, that follows the consumptive, colonialist traditions that are linked with the Thanksgiving weekend, including the settler history of the USA enacted in our Thanksgiving celebrations, Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
1. Identify your history linked to settler colonial roots and how you and your ancestors have harmed and been harmed by it.
2. Find another person with whom to share your thinking and reactions to this history. Forgive one another and begin again in love.
3. Seek an indigenous people or organization who have been harmed by colonialism and join their cause.
In short we confess, we forgive, and we act. We give of ourselves on this Giving Tuesday.
1. Vegan Washing Genocide - Animal Advocacy on Stolen Land and Reimagining Animal Liberation as Anti-colonial Praxis? Justin Kay.
3. Decolonization. Wikipedia.
4. Liberating Wings: Freeing people and parrots together. LoraKim Joyner.
6. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Charles Mann.