Decolonizing “Allyship” for Indian Country: Lessons from #NODAPL
"In 2016, when #NODAPL first appeared in the mainstream media, many nonnative people approached me about how to support the water protectors. This question can be answered in a couple of ways: first, I might address the specific issue (actions that directly support those at Standing Rock), or second, I might respond more generally about how to be an ally to native people. The two responses highlight a current issue in Indian Country: should nonnatives serve as active bystanders—or should they be allies to native peoples? Being an ally has come under scrutiny, especially given its propensity for epistemic injustice. Some philosophers—such as Rachel McKinnon—argue for dismissing the concept altogether, requiring that individuals serve as active bystanders. Although this may be necessary to support individuals in the transgender community, it lacks the resources to fully address the needs of colonized peoples. In this article, I argue for the operationalization of “ally” in Indian Country insofar as it is subject to decolonizing treatment. Although there is a need for both bystanders and allies in Indian Country, the Indigenous people must define the concepts that are intended to serve them."