Have you ever set a requirement on yourself that has prevented you from learning Indigenous culture? OR told yourself that you can ONLY PARTICIPATE in Indigenous cultural practices, or ceremonies if you meet a certain requirements - such as having permission from someone or being of Indigenous background?
This is all about how to deal with strict rules and restrictions on who is allowed to participate in Indigenous cultural practices.
At tribal trade we’ve helped thousands of Indigenous people, Indigenous Ally’s and Tribal organizations to understand rules and restrictions surrounding who is allowed to learn, participate, and celebrate Indigenous culture.
I’ve put together 5 STEPS to be 100% confident surrounding Rules & Restrictions for Learning Indigenous Culture.
We first explained this concept in a workshop series that we delivered to thousands of participants who ranked this process as the most powerful, and helpful piece of information for understanding why so many Indigenous people and Ally’s are being held back from learning and participating in Indigenous culture.
Let’s get into this 5 STEP process for how to understand why these are in place, and how you can be 100% confident surrounding who is allowed to be involved in Indigenous Cultural practises.
THE 1st STEP FOR Dealing with Rules & Restrictions for Learning Indigenous Culture is to have a clear Understanding that these “requirements” are limiting beliefs
A limiting belief is a state of mind or thought that restricts you from doing something or restricts you in other ways. Having a requirement for doing anything is 100% a limiting belief.
For example: I don't get along with my Indigenous relatives, therefore I can't connect with them or the Indigenous culture.
These are requirements for participating in the culture that we are imposing on ourselves. I've heard this so many times where Indigenous family members are estranged from their families and it's a tough subject. Sometimes it's presumed to be easier to not participate in the culture because it causes so much pain and hurt to think about anything associated with Indigenous family members. This conflict causes many people to simply avoid the culture together.
A limiting belief is powerful, negative and convinces someone that they can't do something. People get trapped in a negative cycle of limiting beliefs and a non-inclusive mindset. Having a requirement for doing something… is 100% a limiting belief.
Here are some examples of requirements for participating in Indigenous Culture
- Looking like a stereotypical native person
- You need to live on a First Nation lands
- You need to speak your native language
- You need to belong to a tribal community
- You need someone to give permission such as an elder
Once we set these requirements on ourselves, we will naturally impose them on others.
THE 2nd STEP FOR Dealing with Rules & Restrictions for Learning Indigenous Culture is to LEARN WHERE THE REQUIREMENTs COME FROM
WHERE do these rules & requirements come from?
Government - Rules, order, or justification for doing things come from a lot of different places, but primarily requirements for being a REAL Indigenous Person came from within the government due to the Indian Act where they created laws/guidelines to identify Indigenous peoples.
That's the truth. That's the source. That's where these came from. That's why this all started.
Colonization - Colonization was created to control us as a group of people, to assimilate us into a society that the government wanted.
Residential Schools - Residential schools created even stricter rules, making the rules and requirements for cultural participation so strict that it was illegal to practice in Indigenous culture. Only within the last few decades have Indigenous people been allowed to start celebrating their culture again.
Severe trauma has resulted from harsh abuse and consequences for practicing our culture, causing many people to be too scared to even do it anymore. People were speaking the language, playing drums, and practicing ceremonies in secret and behind closed doors. These habits that we had, these habits that we formed from having to hide and keep the culture alive in secret was out of necessity and desperation.
Generational Trauma - So this trauma that we've experienced has been passed down to younger generations and younger generations. That is what generational trauma is.
So now that you understand why we set these requirements on ourselves, it makes it a little bit easier to understand and be compassionate towards ourselves and start to accept it and take steps towards dealing with these beliefs.
THE 3rd STEP FOR Dealing with Restrictions for Learning Indigenous Culture is to ADDRESS YOUR REQUIREMENTS
What happens if you don’t address the ‘requirements’ you’ve set for participating in the culture?
This is going to create problems for you if you don't deal with these ideas and requirements that you set for yourself. This problem can lead to you not meeting one of your own requirements, guaranteed.
And it's going to prevent you from connecting with the culture and from making long lasting relationships with people within the culture.
It's a spiral of negativity because it's a limiting belief that you can never fulfill or satisfy. This can really enter us into extreme territory.
This spiral of negativity can cause gatekeeping in the culture, which in turn will make all of its beauty and its healing potential no longer accessible to the people who might need it. There is also the possibility that you could become a gatekeeper by setting these requirements. This would be a worst case scenario.
THE 4th STEP FOR Dealing with Rules & Restrictions for Learning Indigenous Culture is to BE AWARE OF THE RISKS IN SETTING EXTREME REQUIREMENTS
Here are some examples of extreme requirements some people set:
Proudly indigenous means that you gate keep the culture, that you protect it and don't share it
Being proudly indigenous means you show up to every activist march, confront every racist person and that you borderline become aggressive. You scrutinize other backgrounds and put them down to bring Indigenous culture up.
It can be really easy when you're desperately trying to belong to your culture, feel that strong sense of connection to not know where the healthy balance is and end up compensating for feeling like you need to be a REAL indigenous person and go above and beyond.
It starts with setting basic requirements and limiting beliefs, and then it slowly spirals into extreme requirements.
This can easily bring other people down through gate keeping the culture and by judging other people who might share the same identity crises that we do.
THE 5th STEP FOR Dealing with Rules & Restrictions for Learning Indigenous Culture is to REMOVE THEM
The solution to this is that we must remove these requirements for participating in the culture.
We must go from exclusive to inclusive! A great way that you can accomplish this is by using the Medicine Wheel teaching of inclusivity, shared contribution, and collective work.
That always helps to bring me back to why inclusive is the answer. First of all, it just feels good! But second of all, the Medicine Wheel teachings tell us so.
The Medicine Wheel teaches us about all four nations of people being all four colors who share the same future. That's a traditional teaching.
What the Medicine Wheel teachings tell us is that there is a shared collective worth and that all people contribute to the wellbeing and care of mother Earth.
In traditional teachings, inclusion is the answer, not exclusion. The real answer here for being a proud Indigenous person, is that you respect all nations, all backgrounds, and you support sharing the culture.