Spirituality as Decolonizing: Elders Albert Desjarlais, George McDermott, and Tom McCallum Share Understandings of Life in Healing Practices

Judy Iseke


Indigenous peoples have begun a process of reasserting traditional knowledge and examining how it can be useful to the next generations and to a broader world as part of a decolonizing agenda. Indigenous Elders are the educators, storytellers, historians, language keepers, and healers of our communities. They sustain knowledge, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs held collectively within Indigenous communities and pass it on to the next generations. Through a storytelling methodology in a collaborative dialogue Elders shared with each other their stories about healers and healing practices, life experiences, and land-based perspectives, as well as history and language issues. Their stories illuminate a process of becoming whole within the ongoing challenges posed by colonization. In discussion of the film “How the Spirit Moves with Albert Desjarlais” the Sacred Stone Lodge, or Sweat Lodge, is explored as a place of healing and prayer. Elders descriptions, in concrete terms, of understandings gleaned from their years within their families, communities, languages, and traditions are discussed as transformative and decolonizing in verifying understandings of relationships to land, cosmos, and spiritual traditions embodies in their healing and ceremonial practices. Films referred to in this article can be accessed at www.ourelderstories.com


decolonization; Indigenous spirituality; Indigenous elders; oral storytelling

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ISSN 1929-8692