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Wolakota: the face of ReZilience in "post"-colonial America


This research aims at exploring the features of sustainable social change in Lakota country. More specifically, it uses the concept of resilience to analyze local expressions of social change and challenge the colonial framework and discourse. It focuses on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and compares two scales of social change at the grassroots and larger organizational level. This research's project follows a participatory and decolonial approach and emerged from a specific local need formulated by local grassroots projects managers to bring attention to the lack of resources and visibility they encounter. Reservations are historically defined territories embedded in colonial power dynamics that create socio-economic vulnerability and multi-dimensional hardships in tribal members' everyday life. What they face remains perceived and defined primarily by an etic/outsider perspective, which hinders expressions of local resilience. Ground observations indicate that creative sustainable projects with unique features actually emerge in response to local stress. Yet, by western definitions, these projects are not visible and do not qualify as resilient. This research questions the western hegemonic use of resilience in Lakota country and explores endogenous expressions of social change that shape alternative definitions and challenge the colonial discourse.


2017 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.

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