“I am a MSW and MPA student at the University of Washington, when I walked into a recent “Decolonizing Your Activism” training, I was greeted by laughter coming from the kitchen, a hot pot of coffee, a table brimming with potluck items, and warm welcome from volunteer greeters. These “volunteers” were participants, learning by doing that we all have a role to play in this work. I quickly went to work. The heart of the training itself is stories. Sweetwater talks about how her own family has been impacted by historical trauma. It seemed to me that storytelling was Sweetwater’s way of honoring her ancestors and continuing the cultural practices that contributes to her peoples’ resiliency and wisdom. Sweetwater’s stories sparked an authenticity and presence among the participants. Through her stories, and her vulnerability in sharing them, Sweetwater modeled to participants our path toward collective healing. Prior to the training, I knew full well that reclaiming our narratives, and interweaving them in the story of humanity, is a powerful means to transforming trauma. I had, however, not experienced the impact of this process in transforming collective trauma. The effect was profoundly moving, and I had multiple tear-filled conversations with other participants as a result.”
~ Student in Seattle ~
“This spirit of collective action and collective healing carried throughout the day, as I formed healing relationships with other participants who offered their spirit and wisdom in service of shaping my understanding of how I show up in community, and a vision of a peace-filled community we can co-create together. At the close of the training, participants swept the floors of the AFSC meeting hall, prayed together, each in our own way, and hugged goodbye. I left knowing that I have a role in this good work and Sweetwater’s wisdom of collective healing to serve as a guide. I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity.”
~ A.R. in Seattle ~
“Participants in Sweetwater’s workshop had three things happen to us:
- We gained more information about the history and legacies of North American native peoples than we could ever have imagined taking in within such a short time.
- We became closer than we could have imagined with our seating neighbors.
- I’m convinced that we all had inner transformative experiences that left us more aware and liberated from guilt, shame and fear than we ever knew we needed to be or could be!”
~ R. H. in Seattle ~
“Sweetwater’s workshop was well organized and very informative, clearly outlining the horrific history of dispossession and genocide against the indigenous population here. But it was when we got to the role play that it reached way beyond the facts and my feeble attempts to distance myself via my intellect, and reached right into my heart. It sounded so simple. One person would take the oppressor role, one the oppressed. The script was short and limited. I won’t spoil it by sharing the details, but in the few minutes we spent enacting abuse and forgiveness, I reached parts of myself and emotions about the horrendous history and its ongoing legacy today that I didn’t even know I had. I broke down sobbing, and was not the only one. I highly recommend the workshop. Denial is a powerful defense, and if we’re stuck in it we cannot take action to make real change. Experiencing the grief and working through it frees us to heal and take powerful steps toward racial equity and change.”
~ V.S. in Seattle ~