As we awaken to the horrors of industrial civilization, we must carefully examine the ways in which we have been colonized by it in a manner similar to the ways in which native peoples have been colonized by it. Derrick Jensen has written extensively about de-colonizing ourselves, and I have written a great deal about it as well because I have experienced that it is foolish to rail against industrial civilization if we are not committed to healing within ourselves the traumatic marks that it has left in the personal shadow of our psyches.
This culture tells us that humans are selfish and greedy. It says that we are nothing more than individual islands of ego floating in a sea of chaos. It is the Great Myth of Separation that takes many forms. We’ve seen it as humans apart from nature, reason divided against emotion, body separate from mind, one tribe distinct from another. This mental tendency to categorize the world according to its separations is the root cause of illness in the world today.
Every now and then an event happens in our world that captures my imagination, touching something really deep within me. The Native American protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock, North Dakota is just such an event. This has the feeling of a truly seminal, historic event in which we are all invited to participate. The peaceful protests by what are known as the “water protectors” against a multi-billion dollar corporation putting an oil pipeline through what the Native Americans consider sacred land, endangering the source of their water—i.e., of life itself—is a deeply symbolic event with real life consequences. In a very real sense, the protest is itself a sacred ceremony being performed on the world stage, being done on behalf of all of humanity – which is to say, all of us.
Wetiko is an Algonquin word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess, and selfish consumption (in Ojibwa it is windigo, wintiko in Powhatan). It deludes its host into believing that cannibalizing the life-force of others (others in the broad sense, including animals and other forms of Gaian life) is a logical and morally upright way to live.