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Culture of Colonization
Peter Dougherty and Elliott Adams are in Standing Rock, North Dakota
as an MPT International Exploratory Team.

 a veiw in camp
Camp entrance is left edge of photo

Everyone wants to know about the camp, about pipeline resistance. But on a personal level working with the indigenous nations people I am aware of the crossing of cultures. I think many of us either view their culture as quaint or mythologizes it. But I need to see and accept them for what they. That includes seeing myself for what I am. I grew up in a colonizing culture, my culture has figured out a million ways to justify and live off colonization. Our three major religions are the Abrahamic religions which say “let them [people] have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” Genesis 1:26. By contrast what I hear here is a culture (and I am consciously distinguish from religion) in which people are literally a part of the land and the animals, we are all connected and interwoven. They frequently refer to the elements of the world around them as relatives – it seems they feel that their relative a deer for example has to give its life so that they can live. This is in harsh contrast to our culture where for example our Secretary of State (Madeleine Albright) could say 500,000 children dying was worth it. Our Secretary of Defense and many people on the street feel it is rational to say better to kill them over there than over here. Our capitalist economy is not about surviving it is about growing. Our foreign policy is about changing the government structures and the economies of other countries to serve us better. Our history has included a religious interpretation that promoted converting and domination.

I need to come to terms with being part of a colonizing culture. I will never be able to change that. But by knowing that is the basis of how I have grown up and lived I can better accept and respect non-colonizing cultures as equals and different.

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