I am Dr. Jessica Hernandez, an Indigenous scientist (Zapotec & Maya Ch'orti). I advocate for environmental, climate, & food justice through my scientific & community work. Today is #IndigenousPeoplesDay & wanted to make some important claims for all of y'all to take into account.
Indigenous peoples hold on to powerful ancestral knowledge, so as non-Indigenous scientists, it is important that you respect that and stop using western science as a tool to silence their knowledge & tell them what western science thinks they should do.
I have seen many Happy #IndigenousPeoplesDay from professors, but I am wondering if you gave your Indigenous students or postdocs the day off? Did you also ask if you should reschedule meetings w/ Indigenous colleagues so they can observe today & participate in virtual events?
Do you speak about Indigenous peoples in the present-tense? For most of my journey in higher academia, when we got to speak about Indigenous peoples, it was always in the past-tense...as an Indigenous womxn this was very uncomfortable & invalidating. Change that.
Today should not be the only day to speak about Indigenous peoples, especially if you have current projects/research with Indigenous communities. Also, stop to ask yourself why you are doing such a project: is it bc you romanticize & fetishize Indigenous communities?
How often do you cite Indigenous scientists or scholars? Many scientists speak about "decolonizing" X in their field of study, but when you check out the references or readings they use in class, none of them are from Indigenous scholars or scientists. Mmm O.O
How do you uphold settler colonialism within your field? Have you ever stopped & asked yourself, "why do we only discuss white European men in our field of study?" If you do, you are following "western science" not science overall :)
Note that land acknowledgments are a great way to start acknowledging Indigenous peoples & tribal sovereignty, but what actions are you taking? Land acknowledgments should not be performative but also lead to actions that help undo settler colonialism.
Lastly, credentials do not outweigh lived experiences or knowledge. Despite having a Ph.D. & having renowned professors "teach" me, my elders & community members hold far more knowledge about our environment than any of these "prestigious" scientists. Truth, not an opinion.
Start respecting folks, not because they hold a Ph.D. Many scientists I have come across think that bc they have a Ph.D. they know more than the community they are doing "research" on or working with. That is a LIE that you worship, bc a community knows their environment best.
Lastly, pay it forward TODAY and every #SettlerSaturday. Words do so much, it is when you start acknowledging your role in settler colonialism & start taking action to undo it, the real work starts. https://twitter.com/doctora_nature/status/1315449990332833793?s=20
IMPORTANT: Indigenous Peoples are not monolithic so everything I mentioned is from my lens as an Indigenous womxn (Zapotec & Maya Ch'orti')...make room for other Indigenous perspectives & stop generalizing all Indigenous peoples. Learn the differences among us. Thank you :)
You can follow @doctora_nature.
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