It can definitely seem overwhelming to try to be a good ally. There are SO MANY ways to be an Indigenous ally. Where do you start??
Being an ally is all about LISTENING and LEARNING. The people you are supporting have something to teach you and it is YOUR responsibility to listen to them! THAT’S how to get started. Listen. Learn. Be open to ideas, views, and perspectives outside your own.
If you haven’t leaned into that mindset yet, then that’s where you need to start. BUT, if you’re in the right space and ready to be an active Indigenous ally, then we have a few recommendations for what you need to learn about and do in order to be a successful ally.
First, we’ll talk about some key learning points and then we’ll talk about how you can actively support Indigenous people and communities.
We are happy you are here to learn!
Let’s talk about a few examples of what you need to learn and why.
Step #1 LEARN
It might sound like a no-brainer, but the first step really is to simply learn.
Take the time to research and learn about the culture you are interested in -- this goes for ANY culture!
This demonstrates that you seek to honor the culture instead of take advantage of it OR twist it into something that makes it mass marketable -- you know, for a “gimmick” or to sell more Indigenous inspired merchandise.
When you do that, that’s when it starts to be cultural appropriation.
Honoring a culture is good. Exploiting or adopting a culture’s fashions, values, or teachings for profit or personal gain -- that’s appropriation.
In order to cultivate this respect, honor, and awareness of Indigenous culture, try learning about the following topics:
There is a dark and painful history surrounding Indigenous peoples and culture that is INCREDIBLY important for allies to learn about.
While it can be difficult, it is absolutely essential. This is the ONLY way to understand how the past continues to impact the future -- and how YOU can be a part of creating a better future for everyone.
In order to be an Indigenous ally, you must learn about the land you reside on and recognize that it is land that has been stolen from Indigenous peoples.
Land holds an important and sacred place in Indigenous culture -- therefore, it is VERY important to learn about if you seek to understand Indigenous people, their history, and their values.
Finally, it is important to understand that traditional Indigenous worldviews are drastically different from Westernized worldviews.
Understanding WHAT makes them different and how Western views have altered or disrupted traditional Indigenous teachings is a top priority if you’re going to be an Indigenous ally. Indigenous people have very different views of the world, culture, and systems of beliefs and teachings than the Western world. Take the time to learn about it. You can get started by taking a few moments to watch our video: Indigenous Worldview.
Once you’ve taken the time to learn about the most important basics of Indigenous culture, teachings, history, and beliefs… there are a few ways you can be an ACTIVE ALLY and support Indigenous people and communities.
Step #2 SUPPORTING INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES
“Support” comes in many forms and can be different for everyone, depending on the needs of the community and the capacity of those seeking to lend a hand.
Find a way that allows YOU to support the Indigenous community. These are just a few suggestions.
If you are in a leadership position in your company or organization, organize training that educates and generates awareness about these topics. Watch videos that instruct you about Indigenous culture, especially if they are directly from Indigenous sources (like this one!)
The good news is: Tribal Trade Co offers ALL of these kinds of resources, so you already know exactly how to get started.
Find Indigenous events, fundraisers, or other gatherings where the community is invited to learn more, network, and experience the culture for themselves.
Do research about organizations that might need your help in your community. Seek out volunteering opportunities. Attend events where it is appropriate to do so. If you are able, donate to Indigenous communities and organizations.
HOW you spend your time and money is a BIG part of being an Indigenous ally.
SUPPORT INDIGENOUS ARTISTS AND BUSINESSES
Supporting Indigenous creators and Indigenous-owned businesses is one of the best ways to be an ally! Support Indigenous artists, authors, musicians, painters, poets, cooks, clothing designers -- the list goes on and on!!
Not only will you get some COOL stuff out of the deal, but you are encouraging these artists to continue their work and breaking down the barriers Indigenous people have continuously faced when trying to succeed in their industries.
Support, support, support!
These are just a FEW of the ways you can LEARN, PARTICIPATE, and become an ACTIVE INDIGENOUS ALLY.
It really doesn’t take much to get started -- you just have to WANT to. And, most importantly, you have to approach allyship from a place of respect, honor, and admiration.