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Committee for the Promotion of Diversity & Inclusion: Decolonization

Definition

Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. On the one hand, decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics. On the other hand, decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being. For non-Indigenous people, decolonization is the process of examining your beliefs about Indigenous Peoples and culture by learning about yourself in relationship to the communities where you live and the people with whom you interact.

We work in systems that perpetuate colonial ideals and privilege Western ways of doing. For example, many student services use forms and procedures instead of first initiating relationships with students. This is a colonial process that excludes rather than includes. Also, how libraries catalogue knowledge is Western and colonial. 

Decolonization is an ongoing process that requires all of us to be collectively involved and responsible. Decolonizing our institutions means we create spaces that are inclusive, respectful, and honour Indigenous Peoples.

-The Indigenization Project, University of British Columbia, "Decolonization and Indigenization"

Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors by Ian Cull, Robert L. A. Hancock, Stephanie McKeown, Michelle Pidgeon, and Adrienne Vedan. British Columbia: BCcampus, 2018.

Recommended reading

MIT Resources

A New Diversity Partner: Indigenous Peoples Advocacy Committee (IPAC)
Mission Statement: Through teaching, learning, and community engagement the Indigenous Peoples Advocacy Committee (IPAC) at MIT seeks to support and empower our indigenous students and their evolving needs.

IPAC is a newly formed committee composed of faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students. The purpose of the committee is to advocate for our indigenous students and to raise community awareness about indigenous history and culture. The committee’s values are centered around community, support, awareness, education, empowerment, ally-ship, wellness, and decolonization. Guided by the needs of our student members and our partnership with the MIT chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the primary short-term goal of the committee is to advocate for and support AISES students in their quest for a dedicated space on campus where they can connect as a community.

For more information, please email co-chairs Beatriz Cantada (ICEO) and Nina DeAgrela (OMP).

Distinctive Collections Highlight: Mamusee wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God

A book in MIT's Distinctive Collections written in the Wôpanâak language, spoken by the Wompanoag people of Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island (also known as the Eliot Bible) was the first bible to be printed in America. Read more about the book in this blog post.

MIT Land Acknowledgment Statement

Cape Cod, Massachusetts by Nicholas Bartos, 2020, via Unsplash

The MIT Indigenous Peoples Advocacy Committee (IPAC) in part with MIT's American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and other Native American MIT students have developed the following land acknowledgment statement. We invite you to use this statement when opening MIT community events. 

"I​n exploring and writing about the imagined foundations of a society and a culture, we feel it necessary to acknowledge the very real foundation of our own. We therefore acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples as the traditional stewards of the land where this performance is taking place, and the enduring relationship that exists between them and their traditional territories. The land that we are performing on today is the traditional unceded territory of the Wampanoag Nation. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal from this territory, and we honor and respect the many diverse indigenous people connected to this land on which we gather and perform from time immemorial.”

Shortened land acknowledgment:

In the spirit of healing, I acknowledge and honor the Massachusett, Pequot, and Wampanoag Tribes, and all of the original Indigenous peoples of the land upon which MIT stands.

National organizations and institutional programs