On Meaning-Making & Decolonizing Wikipedia’s Indigenous Content

I don’t know how any person or knowledge entity can claim it is objective or neutral on a stance about anything – such a claim is to discredit oneself from the get-go.  There is just no such thing as “objectivity” or “neutrality”, no matter how much science tries to convince us so (superiority complex much?).

Humans are meaning-makers, it’s just what we do to make sense of Life.  This is done in all human cultures, and in the colonist culture, some popular meaning-making lenses include what we call “science”, “religion”, and “academia.”  None of these are really superior to another, though science sure thinks it is, which it tells us all the time.  The meaningfulness of our meaning-making is a matter of tapping into our basic human intelligence to figure out what makes the most sense to our mind, heart and Spirit.

On Wikipedia’s so-called “neutral point of view”, Native rights activist and Decolonist Zoongitozi explains to Wikipedia:

Time and Time again I come across an Indigenous American related article (and similar articles) only to find articles that are extremely skewed toward European world views and completely ignoring Indigenous world views. This is NOT making articles with NEUTRAL Points of View! When an Indigenous person chimes in to point out the euro-western lens that the article is presented in, nothing is done or the point is discredited, usually followed by citing a book written by…. you guessed it a european, completing the circle of the euro-western lens. This has been my and my colleagues’ experience anyway.

There are plenty of Indigenous Nations and Indigenous organizations to contact as well as books and documentaries made by Indigenous people. It is NOT necessary to exclusively site non-Indigenous texts, web sites, etc.

This article’s perpetuation of “human sacrifice” among Indigenous cultures is extremely defamatory and dangerous to today’s Indigenous people. This also goes for the linked article “Mound 72”. Wikipedia has become a household name and people take it very seriously whether they should or not. They believe what they read here for the most part and the beliefs they get from this site extends to the racism towards Indigenous peoples and it contributes to the defamation towards Indigenous peoples.

I am an Anishinaabe and Tsalagi Indigenous person, I have been a member of a very well known Indigenous rights organization for well over two decades. I know many Traditional [Native] people and no where ever at any time have I EVER heard of any of us in north OR south america practicing human sacrifice or ritual torture. I have however heard this from genocidal european colonists who were trying to give a reason or excuse for the holocaust they were/are inflicting upon our people, but never NEVER have I heard of such things in our Traditional stories and knowledge, which by the way not only includes oral tradition but our own forms of writing, book making and record keeping.

You can believe Indigenous people or the people that committed the largest holocaust ever and killed 98 percent of North and South Indigenous Americans. Since you supposedly have a policy of keeping a “Neutral POV” you should at the very least let us have our say.

Myself and others have tried to contribute, following your rules and everything but still our contributions are deleted or edited beyond recognition by overzealous editors. Wiki is an Indigenous word, it is Hawaiian – how ironic that you insist on casting us in untrue and defamatory ways.

Please just try to think about this with an open mind and heart. I am not interested in back-and-forthing with anyone, just remember We Indigenous People Are Still Here and we read and sometimes contribute to Wiki. Chi Miigwech and thank you.

Commenter “Dougweller” replied to Zoongitozi as such:

I take your point, but I’d also like to note a few other things. First, the holocaust you speak of can’t be blamed on the current generation of non-Native Americans, so please don’t suggest that we are responsible. There are no genocidal European colonists in the Americas. Some are descendants of such many generations back, but this sort of accusation is the sort of attack that I would think you’d reject if it was the other way. Secondly, I would find it very strange if all human sacrifices (and there were many) were done by only Europeans, Asians, Africans, etc, and none in the Americas. Whether you know of them or not, and I doubt that your knowledge extends to every Native American culture. And thirdly, what’s your explanation for Mound 72?

To which Zoongitozi replied:

Please try to hear me with an open mind at least. By continuing to occupy the lands of Indigenous people and continuing the cultural genocidal activities and the literal genocidal activities that colonists have been doing for the past 500 years or so is continuing the holocaust. Just because you may not have literally murdered an Indigenous person does not mean you are not participating in the continual colonization and holocaust in the americas (or any other colonized place a colonist may be occupying). You have a eurocentric view and a colonist view. You were born into it and what happened in the past is not your fault but what you do NOW is.

My main point is that most Indigenous american articles on Wiki are not of a NEUTRAL point of view. TRY to open your mind and heart and make an attempt at least to understand the Indigenous point of view.  We are still here, not all of us are gone and that means that there are full blooded traditionalists you could talk to, to try to understand a particular culture and there are many, many books written by Indigenous people.  I know Wiki requires very particular types of sources to support any information and that makes it even harder for Indigenous people to have a fair say in Wiki articles since it seems that non-Native sources from people with non-Native education and culture are preferred.

I would not even care but it is a problem because Wikipedia is a household word now, nearly everyone reads it and it’s one of the first things to come up in a search engine. So what is said here, especially about people is very very important. I mostly replied to this hoping someone else with an open mind may come across this and try to understand us through OUR words, not the words of the colonists or anyone else other than the people you are trying to understand.  Watch some talks by John Trudell, that is a very good starting point in understanding the Indigenous point of view. Chi Miigwech and thank you for hearing me out with an open mind and heart.

We must work hard to decolonize our minds, and it’s a lifelong process, but a worthy one, for it is The Path to liberation.

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3 thoughts on “On Meaning-Making & Decolonizing Wikipedia’s Indigenous Content

  1. What you said is right on and very true. I guess the best we can do is try our hardest to keep our hearts and MINDS open and always be willing to learn and make adjustments to how we orient ourselves with the world around us. There is no shame in learning that what you thought to be true is possibly incorrect. There IS shame in being closed minded and clinging to what you think you know out of fear of being “wrong” or “stupid”. We are always learning, for our entire lives, this is a GOOD thing. Being a truth seeker and a truth teller is a good way to be and you cannot be a truth seeker/teller with a closed mind. I think some people are just afraid of appearing unintelligent- maybe due to deeper psychological issues and/or other things probably. It’s Okay to make mistakes, this is how we learn.

  2. treothe says:

    Here in the Pacific Northwest – the single most significant historic indigenous cultural spiritual center of the region continues to be flooded by the Dalles Dam Lake Celilo – so that industrial barges can use the River – this is by International Treaty Law ongoing cultural genocide. The resident fish in the Columbia River at the dam below – Bonneville have been declared too poisonous with mercury and pcb’s for any one to eat. Salmon the treaty rights honored subsistence food of our region is too toxic to eat as a subsistance food – documented in resulting in birth defects and high cancer rates among those still attempting to eat the tradtional diet. Despite this currently coal trains are being proposed along the river corridor which would dump over two tons per car per trip of high mercury dust into the river.

    This is an example of ongoing genocidal violence here in the Pacific Northwest that makes impossible the exercise of the First Nations existential and treaty rights without resulting in premature death and illness.

    Most treaty surrenders of occupation title were never ratified by congress and by international law still retain aboriginal title in the US.

    We have a long way to go in stopping genocide.

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