Hozho Nahazdlii: In Beauty, It is Restored

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ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, non-western
ways of knowing, learning and living were
experienced at a day-long community symposium,
In Beauty, It is Restored: Media
Activism, Indigenous Women’s Epistemologies,
and Scholarship, sponsored by Native
American graduate students at UIUC.
The symposium presentations framed
the importance of respecting different
worldviews, in our efforts to ground our
scholarship in our humanity. Grandmothers,
mothers, brothers, students, and professors
gave voice to the survival of Chicana/
o, Mississippi Choctaw, Zapotec,
Yaqui, Hopi, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara,
Diné, and Apache Peoples within our communities
and within the academy. There
was no concentration on one sole way of
“being.” Instead, through a willingness to
be self-reflective about participants’ histories
and experiences, the question of how
to remain human was revisited throughout
the day.
California based legislation, Proposition
21, Hopi identity and boarding school experiences
were the focus of a panel on “Media
Activism: Community Issues, Voices and
Perspectives.” The panelists’ work aimed at
disclosing oppressive issues and marginalized
histories. How their project fit into their
everyday lives and the wider social contexts,
(i.e., language issues, social and cultural
resources, community power and institutions)
created unique perspectives related to
producing a collective vision of justice in
communities, through media mobilization.
One of the most compelling sessions,
“Leaving a Legacy for the Next Seven Generations:
Indigenous Women’s Epistemologies,”
inspired listening with the heart and
respect for every aspect of our human reality.
Through tears, female narratives presented a
life journey where ways of knowing are
informed by how one grounds self to environment
and how genealogy is attached to
land. The theme of the panel was infused
with care and respect for
indigenous language as a
mechanism that embodies
ways of knowing and
acknowledgement of our
relationship with the nonhuman
beings with whom
we share the earth. Central
here was an understanding
of how languages are
embedded social meanings
that encompass ways of
being, including the manner
in which land is experienced
differently as a result.
Institutions of higher education, too often,
exist without compassion, are ahistorical,
objectify beings (human and non-human) and
are spaces that do not allow for grieving and
healing of past collective violations and betrayals.
In the panel, “Truth and Tradition: Trusting
Our Histories and Stories to Decolonize Scholarship,”
UIUC graduate students addressed the
question of: how does one remain human
within a structure that has an epistemology
and a language of hierarchy, competition, and
domination? The panel shared their process of
rethinking values, language, meanings and
relationships within a course on Decolonizing
Methodologies, led by Larry Emerson, a Dine
teacher and scholar. The course guided students
to recognize themselves as the methodological
lens. Through an experience of laughter,
grief, and tears, they began to develop a
language to carry and restore a vision of hope
for the next seven generations.
Diné prayers opened and closed the
symposium in a way that asked for human
beings to be reconnected to a way of life
that is healing and restores kinship, harmony,
balance and beauty. For, ultimately,
it is through these values, and not theory,
that truth can emerge and restore our communities.
It is in this that we are reminded
that we are all here, not because of the
institution or the professors, but because
of our ancestors’ dreams for us. It is in this
way, that beauty can be restored and prevail,
even during the most perilous times.

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