Reply To: Decolonizing Policy Makers

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Excerpt from 2016 HEP Policy Strategies Summary

Participants engaged in dialogue about the importance of shifting from a system focused on colonization, racism, extraction, etc. to one rooted in holistic healing, balance, harmony, cooperation, spiritualism, the sacred, and human dignity. Participants envisioned a world where decision makers centered indigenous ways, the feminine and equity, thus prioritizing the well-being of people and the earth. Participants called for a need to decolonize decision makers (and ourselves) to change the value system in which decisions are made. This includes working to instill norms of basic human values emanating from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to Indigenous People.s Participants recommended that: 1) decision makers receive training on dismantling racism; 2) community members need to work together as peers to cultivate our own leaders to get into office and support their leadership when there; and 3) we need to address colonial trauma using a healing lens.

At the Statewide Health Equity Gathering, Strong Families New Mexico shared that they produce a Legislative Report Card to hold decision makers accountable. They examine legislation in five categories: civil rights and criminal justice, economic justice, education equity, health equity, and anti-families which Strong Families opposes. The legislation selected meets at least one of the Strong Families policy criteria. In summary, the criteria focuses on whether the legislation: 1) recognizes and supports families of all formations; 2) promotes or achieves equitable outcomes for all families; 3) expands government programs and services that support family wellbeing and the individual wellbeing within families; 4) removes barriers that harm families in accessing government programs and services; and 5) protects families and the individuals that comprise them against discrimination, profiling, and harassment.

Additionally, Doña Ana Communities United, at the small group gathering, shared how they are working with both community members and the City of Las Cruces, where they discuss equity issues. They emphasized the importance of learning and practicing ways of being in true dialogue with each other. The process is organic and it is about figuring out ways to make new just systems together. There is no one way to do this work. Another partner in San Juan County identified that they are centering the Navajo Wellness Model as a way in their decolonizing efforts.