Post Indianism

Gerald Vizenor has created the idea of the Post Indian, native peoples who are living a new consciousness beyond the stereotypes of victim-hood about Indians. Post-Indians defy the stereotypes and now live in a new realm of their own creation. His analysis seems metaphorical and philosophical and I would extend it further.

Many native peoples live in reservations still and as colonized cultures, many of the people seek to remain institutionalized in their colonial constructs. The reservation is everything to them, it is the means of sustenance and their homeland. When there are political problems at the reservation many of the inhabitants seek federal help to fix their problems. These people live in a completely colonial environment and seem to think it is their only world. The reservation is in many tribes, not all, a colonial construct, what we were “allowed to have” after the white people took all of the lands and resources they thought were most valuable. Tribes on reservation then are forced to remove to the worst lands, many times far from their original territories, and forced to adapt to a life of poverty and oppression and paternalism. This has created generations of colonized Indians who were just surviving. The Post Indian seeks to break out of this box of the reservation to find the “new consciousness.”

Not satisfied with continuing to live in a colonized society, the Post Indian will seek to restore and recover and revitalize. their people, land, culture, and society. They will seek the truth of history, of what happened to their people, and seek to dissolve the stereotypes of society, their tiny racial boxes “Indians” are forced to live inside. They seek to solve, inform, educate, and find the truth, and thus transform their society. they seek to educate and thus heal the wounds on our cultures by the whites who brought colonization to our lands so long ago. They decolonize.

But Post Indian is more as well. Post Indian is a call for a philosophical shift for white people and other non-natives too. Post-Indianism suggests that in order to make the transformation to living in a Post-Indian world, that society much change as well. This then becomes a challenge to non-natives to begin to decolonize your own minds away from the stereotypes and racial images you have grown up with. To become curious and educate yourselves about the ways in which everyone is subj etc to colonial pressures in society and have learned to accept racial stereotypes of “others” because there have been few efforts to provide cross-cultural education about other peoples. The rigidity of our society, of our education systems, have not historically been open to other perspectives and other ways of thinking about our world. This has to change in order to accept a Post Indian reality. This philosophical shift is a challenge and a responsibility for everyone in our society.

Native people have now for hundreds of years had to adjust to a dual cultural society. They live with native culture and white culture and have to culture shift all the time. Not so for white people, they historically have never seemed to feel the need to shift their culture at all, and all others must change to fit their way of thinking about the world. This is colonial and racial, it is their privilege, and something that many do not well accept or understand.

I see the changes happening now in society, people are listening to one another and trying to grapple will the long-term and unaddressed issues of systemic racism. Blacks and Natives specifically are tackling the images and structures of colonialism as never before. But taking down the physical reminders of colonialism is not enough, there needs to also be a philosophical shift to Post Indianism to truly begin to counter colonialism and its continued effects on our society.