Chautuileo Tranamil has worked on a global scale with grassroots communities, especially Indigenous people. As a Mapuche-Pewenche herself, she is committed to the well-being of Indigenous communities around the world. She is co-founder of Aralez and co-founder of Indigenous Liberation. This is a brief summary of her presentation on 6 October 2023. To view the full presentation online, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32mftK4EG4g
Chautuileo Tranamil began by leading us imaginatively into the forest, which reminds her of her childhood. In childhood the falling leaves seemed like a sadness, a loss. But now she wants to explore how the metaphor of the trees releasing the leaves can help us understand challenges in society. She wants to understand liberation through this image. To expand this image, she introduced three trees: the tree of forgetfulness, the tree of memory and the tree of reciprocity.
The Tree of Forgetfulness
She introduced us to her friend Chief Dadá from Brazil, who travels around informing people about Indigenous Rights, a process that inspires her and others. To do so can be painful as it surfaces memories of intergenerational trauma, because the process of colonialism tried to force forgetfulness of ancestral knowledge, a process the Dutch took part in in Surinam. Only a tiny fraction of the population in many countries are indigenous, and these people are keepers of wisdom about biodiversity, so there is less forgetfulness in that community – how did they maintain their knowledge? How did they resist the dehumanising story of colonialism, which devalues people and replaces their indigenous values with those of the coloniser, such as Christianity and capitalism? How can we understand the ecocidal and genocidal implications of this attempt to erase peoples’ ways of life? We can partially counter this forgetfulness through the data we now have about many aspects of history such as slavery.
The Tree of Memory
We need to remember these aspects of history and reflect on the role of institutions like the Church, which historically justified colonisation through the doctrine of discovery. Although this doctrine has now been repudiated by the Church, it has caused much intergenerational trauma, trauma that we must also hold space for. This shows how much work needs to be done towards reparation and liberation. Chautuileo recommends the process of making memories together as part of this work, as in the activities which Aralez and others sponsor on Indigenous Liberation Day (October 12 in 2023). These activities include ceremonies of reciprocity with ancestors. Another way to work positively with memories is to remember heroes who stood up against colonialism, such as mapuche warrior Galvarino, and the 5000 Polish soldiers who were sent to Haiti by Napoleon but who fought on the indigenous side as liberators. Chautuileo emphasised the importance of youth diving into history and celebrating these stories, and the creative ways in which these memories can be made, for example through dance. She also celebrated elders who allow youth to come to the forefront in activities, thus building leadership and memories. And she spoke about ceremonially destroying negative traumatic memories in order to build new memories.
The Tree of Reciprocity
Chautuileo sees reciprocity as a verb and a philosophy and a practice and looks for examples of it in many indigenous cultures. She talked about reciprocity between generations. She wondered why there is still so little reciprocity in terms of climate funding going to indigenous people. She wants to act reciprocally by supporting both indigenous people from other countries here in the Netherlands – including Surinam; and also supporting Dutch people in playing their part to be reciprocal. One way to do the latter is to invite NGOs here to support indigenous people living here in the Netherlands. Another is a campaign she has created for Aralez, 80Twintig which is donating this year to Sharmaine Artist, a young leader in Surinam who is working on land rights. It’s clear to Chautuileo that this ‘doctrine of reciprocity’ she is trying to create, and the liberation for all indigenous peoples, will take much time, and she encouraged everyone to find ways to participate. She closed with the image of how the roots of trees connect and support one another can reflect the interweaving of our differing ways of giving.