Historical Trauma: Land Acknowledgement & Commitment to Restoration

Sunshine Through Trees

I share these personal truths to:

  • acknowledge historical trauma and 
  • recognize the vast scope of its effects
  • make a public commitment to restoration.

I never wanted to be that white girl who ignorantly benefitted from another person's crimes, but Ancestry.com recently proved what I've always dreaded about my genealogy...

I am the descendant of those who colonized Massachusetts, on the rightful Lands of the Nipmuck and Agwam peoples. Additionally, my ancestors were amongst the volunteer militiamen in the American Revolution. Even later, at least one branch in my family tree has proof of enlisting in the Confederate Army.

Many historians agree that those compelled to leave Britain or fight in the American Revolution for "religious freedoms" or the Civil War for "States rights" did so primarily to retain their economic benefits from slavery, aka capitalism. 

Undeniably, my ancestors constructed today's oppressive systems of white supremacy. I am not proud of it.

In my childhood backyards, I found countless arrowheads. I now know that these archeological artifacts likely belonged to the Mvskoke (Muscogee)Kiikapoi (Kickapoo), and Nisenan peoples—modern-day Atlanta, DFW, and Northern California. After college, I lived on the stolen Lands of the Duwamish, Coast Salish, and Puyallup peoples in the Pacific Northwest.

Tragically, these historical traumas still continue today.

I currently live in Nashville, Tennessee, which occupies Lands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee), and Shawandasse Tula (Shawnee) peoples. Thousands of Cherokee and Shawnee were forcefully removed from their homes and paraded through downtown Nashville in 1838. We call this their trail of tears.

Downtown Nashville still hosts parades, except they happen every day now and feature raucous, drunken bachelor and bachelorette parties on these things called "pedal taverns." <barf, literally.> The city is also home to a zipcode with the highest incarceration rate in the country, all of it pointing toward the rampant disparities between populations across America.

Capitalism is not restorative. Capitalism is destruction.

Much of what is touted as "best business practices" continue to erase people and the earth. Capitalism will never reconcile these horrors, nor will it return native communities to their homelands.

But I believe a) commerce is not capitalism, and b) commerce *can* be regenerative.

I am committed to dismantling the oppression my ancestors built in these ways:

  1. reclaiming liberation from trauma for my clients—My consulting practice is a literal practice, mostly because I am not perfect. ;-) Also because practice is not for perfection; practice is for making things feel easier. In this way, my clients and I practice reclaiming liberation—so that liberation from all trauma feels easier, for as many people as possible.
  2. promoting and building systems of regenerative commerce—I am committed to guiding my clients toward economic models of stewardship, cultivation, and protection of resources—not erasure or replicating past traumas. 
  3. returning everything that was stolen, figuratively and literally—These acknowledgments and commitments to my work are a humble micro-step toward returning native communities to their homelands and restoring their cultural identity.  
This work puts a fire in my belly because: 
  • I can hear the sounds of my clients' growing liberation.
  • I am honored to witness post-traumatic reclamation and want to see more of it.
  • Most importantly, I am in awe of and support the resilience and strength that all Indigenous people have shown worldwide.

If you're unfamiliar with the Indigenous peoples who belong to the stolen lands on which you live, I encourage you to look up your location on native-land.ca, watch this video about the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota, or make a donation to Landback

Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale
Business & Trauma Resilience: Lessons from My Great Grandmother, Signe


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