|DR. GARY FERGUSON :: HEALTHY COMMUNITIES CONSULTANT
Healthy Communities ConsuLting
Just because we are native does not mean that we govern from our indigenous values. We need to guard ourselves from falling into what Dr. Eduardo Duran calls “brown-skinned bureaucracy”. We become even worse than our colonizer by enabling, even supporting internalized oppression. This “lateral violence” has its roots psychologically, spiritually from a survival mechanism from the trauma we have gone through as indigenous nations. Many of our elders went to boarding schools where they had to assimilate or be beaten. This wounding created a form of Stockholm Syndrome where we espoused the colonizer values, religion, ways of relating to the world as a survival mechanism. We fell in love with our captor. To anyone who threatened our captor’s rule, we would use the carefully master-minded methods of colonization against our own people. This plays out in governmental organizations like the Indian Health Service, and in our tribal organizations including our corporations formed as a part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Many of our elders have maintained and recorded our traditional values that have been passed down for generations. They remind us of who we are and what is important. If our way of leadership or organizational development is not aligned by these values, we need to question the structure and push back against systems that continue to enslave our people. Our future generations are counting on us to heal this historical trauma that is persistent and dangerous to our well-being. It plays out in tribal organizations/corporations who devalue our land and disrespect Creator’s magnificent masterpiece. Our healthcare organizations who only value money, profit and not our first medicines, traditional ways of healing. Our HR policies that aren’t aligned with values or cultural practices like time to hunt, fish, gather in season. We need to reclaim these values and translate them into strong, resilient tribal organizations, nations. My passion is to encourage our next generation of indigenous leaders to question why we do things like we are doing them and make sure they are aligned with what our ancestors have told us is important. We deserve better. Our legacy will be a return to health, sustainability, harmony with God’s creation, and respect for each other.