Everyday Acts of Resurgence: People, Places, Practices

Everyday Acts of Resurgence: People, Places, Practices

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by Jeff Corntassel, Taiaiake Alfred, Noelani Goodyear–Ka‘ōpua, Noenoe K. Silva, Hokulani Aikau, and Devi Mucina

This book project came out of powerful collaborations with Indigenous peoples across the Pacific. Since 2006, we have held a series of international exchanges between the faculty and students of Indigenous Governance (IGOV) at the University of Victoria and the Indigenous Politics Program (UHIP) at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa. The partnership and exchange grew out of an affinity IGOV and UHIP share: both programs are focused on a critical praxis of Indigenous political studies that aims to challenge and transform relations of domination that continue to inflict myriad harms on Indigenous communities and lands/waterways. Over the years, our exchanges have evolved into experiential, land and water-based, community-engaged endeavors. By 2011, we were taking our students to work directly with communities engaged in land-reclamation and cultural revitalization struggles in our respective locations.

In 2015 we came together on Oʻahu to engage in land and water-based cultural practices and to strategize around future mobilizations for community resurgence. We organized our time together around the theme, “Piko: A Convergence of Resurgence.” The Kanaka Maoli word, piko, has several meanings, including the navel on a human body, the summit of a mountain, or other places of convergence. As we talked about the piko that grounds us, a Hawaiian student, Andre Perez, talked about the ways we might think of people, places and practices, as piko. These “three Pʻs” became the organizing structure for this book.

Several questions emerged from our 2015 gathering: What is your center? How will your ancestors recognize you? And how will the land and water recognize you in terms of your relationships to place? Finally, how do your everyday actions reflect your relationships with people, places and practices? Often daily actions are overlooked during discussions of community resurgence and self-determination movements. By looking more closely at everyday acts of resurgence, we can identify and better understand ways that Indigenous peoples renew and regenerate relationships with lands, waters, cultures, and communities. These daily convergences of people, places and practices help us envision life beyond the state and honor the relationships that foster community health and well-being. As Anishinaabe scholar Leanne Simpson states, “Resurgence cannot occur in isolation.”[1]

Focusing on everydayness helps make visible the often unseen or unacknowledged actions that embody Indigenous nationhood. As Kwakwaka’wakw scholar Sarah Hunt and Cindy Holmes point out, “While large-scale actions such as rallies, protests and blockades are frequently acknowledged as sites of resistance, the daily actions undertaken by individual Indigenous people, families, and communities often go unacknowledged but are no less vital to decolonial processes.”[2] These intimate spaces of home and family are critical sites of resurgence and nationhood. They demonstrate how responsibilities are grounded in our relationships and the ways in which we act on them on a daily basis.

Looking more closely at everyday acts of resurgence also gives us a deeper understanding of gendered relationships and how they drive resurgence movements. As Hunt and Holmes explain, it is in the everyday that “we connect these relational decolonial processes to queer, Two-Spirit and trans solidarity, resistance to heteronormativity and cisnormativity, locating these intersections in practices of decolonizing and queering the intimate geographies of the family and the home.”[3] Additionally, according to Arvin, Tuck, and Morrill, when discussing decolonizing praxis, “We are arguing that there cannot be feminist thought and theory without Native feminist theory. The experiences and intellectual contributions of Indigenous women are not on the margins; we have been an invisible presence in the center, hidden by the gendered logics of settler colonialism for over 500 years.”[4] Within these intimate spaces we see how fatherhood and motherhood are practiced, including other-mothering and other-fathering, and ways that heteropatriarchy and colonial constructions of gender are challenged.

Finally, everydayness allows us to see Indigenous relationality in action. By observing the everyday actions of Indigenous peoples, we gain insights into how extended kinship networks operate in ways that subvert colonial nuclear family structures. Indigenous nations and communities are strengthened and perpetuated by the everyday actions that express and nurture their relationships to lands, waters, language, sacred living histories, and the natural world. Everydayness reveals the choices we make on a daily basis to engage with our lands, cultures and communities. These seemingly small actions are significant in informing both the micro and macro processes of community resurgence. Resurgence also entails a consciousness of being in a daily struggle to regain rebellious dignity. We are interested in how these transformational moments regenerate and invigorate Indigenous nationhood as well as our community and individual health and well-being. While rallies, protests, and other publicized events are often viewed as catalysts for change, it is these quiet, transformational, intimate actions that occur on a daily basis in ways that are seen and unseen that form the basis for revolutionary shifts.

Ultimately, this edited volume is a project grounded in love – love for our land, water, families, clans, communities, ceremonies, sacred histories, and languages, which form our center or piko. The authors who contributed are part of the larger ʻohana or family that we have fostered across the Pacific to write from their hearts and make their work accessible to a more general audience. Our challenge to each author was to write in 1,500 words or less, with little jargon, and with ten citations or less, in order to embody their lived expressions of everydayness. This resulted in twenty-two powerful works that challenge our ways of looking at people, places and practices in an everyday context.

[1] Simpson, Leanne (2011). Dancing On Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring, p. 69.

[2] Hunt, Sarah and Cindy Holmes (2015). “Everyday Decolonization: Living a Decolonizing Queer Politics.” Journal of Lesbian Studies. 19(2): 154-172.

[3] Hunt and Holmes, “Everyday Decolonization,” p. 158.

[4] Arvin, Maile, Eve Tuck, and Angie Morrill (2013). “Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy.” Feminist Formations. 25(1): 8-34

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