OS with Firtst Nations
Mikk Sarv, Michael Pannwitz Jr
Summary of the meeting:
I was sitting for a while alone in tower of Bramstrup. It is a large space. I felt urge to take my flute and to play. The tower echoed to whatever sound came out from my flute. Even the quietest sounds were carefully preserved and carried on.
This made me to recall Practice of Peace, the notice, that self-organisation and OS has been around as long as there is Life and Universe around us. It is like a big tower, which catches and carries on whatever sound we make.
First Nations have thousands of years experience, how to explore this echoing. There is a lot to learn from their experiences. Yet more exiting is to continue together with them the learning expedition into OS.
At this moment Michael Pannwitz JR joined me. I shared, what I have experienced. We talk further about the different pace and sense of time flow. First Nations teach to be focused to now, to the real reality, what is just happening inside and outside. We are often trapped by secondary and tertiary realities. These are forcing us to do things, which sound together with someone’s will, which created these realities, not directly with the reality of Life and Universe.
We recalled idea from last day’s workshop of /OSWithNature and the idea of walking OS. This and other ways how to organise OS in different conditions, for illiterate, for blind etc is good to gather together and to make available for the learning expedition.
We both continue the expedition and call along with us everybody, who is burning to learn from huge experience of First Nations about how to sound together in the OS of Life and Universe.
I will convene this topic at Practice of Peace in November on Whidbey Island, in Chinook traditional territory. -- ChrisCorrigan
Two things come to mind. First there seems to be a thought that First Nations can contribute an understanding of what it means to open big space. This is true and Elders and traditional teachers I have worked with (and continue to work with) point me in this direction all the time. My space holding role models are the teachers who lead sweatlodge ceremonies and who hold space for the body and the spirit to dissolve in darkness and erupt into light.
Then there is the experience of First Nations who have traditional ways of gathering and inviting contributions from their community members, which Open Space Technology enhances. At the moment I am working with one such First Nation and their approach is in the document below.
Community Information Package
March 26, 2003
This document is intended to be a starting point for discussions on how Sijitus might best serve the people of Sliammon. It is a tool to help the group function in a proactive manner so that we may move out of the current crisis management system that we have all become so accustomed to. There is a pessimistic perception out there that this will not work and that we cannot learn to get along again. I disagree and I believe in our people’s potential to do great things with our combined talents and strengths.
The time has come for us to work together and stop being our own worst enemies. Our culture and our teachings will clear the path and make us a strong and independent nation once again.
Yeeq otl tlet (Mission Statement)
To support the development of a self-sufficient community through traditional approaches to community improvement. Sijitus speakers will advocate on behalf of their family when addressing policy and program issues with Sliammon organizations.
T’ums ninee jeh (Mandate)
Sijitus spokespeople will develop strategies and action plans that advocate and support the improvement of service delivery within the Sliammon community in a proactive manner on behalf of their family.
Non peh gahn ehm (Concept)
- The idea for family representation was discussed in a report concerning the AIP Ratification vote prepared by Ross McKinnon? (2002);
- This recommendation was made by some of the people who voted against the AIP to establish a community advisory group;
- This body is not meant to become another Board structure. It is meant to address concerns and make recommendations to Chief & Council and Boards to improve the community.
- This initiative will allow community members to be involved in establishing the direction and goals of Sliammon. This will work towards improving our quality of life.
- Our challenge as Tla’amin people will be to connect what is relevant and what will work in a modern society from our knowledge of traditional governance;
- It is this knowledge that makes us a distinct society with the inherent right to govern ourselves;
- This is an opportunity for us to fix things at the community level so that our elected bodies can become proactive planners rather than reactive troubleshooters.
- Our history within this system has been far from perfect, but this is our chance to be proactive and move forward with meaningful consultation and participation from all concerned parties. It puts the onus back on families to participate in their community.
Kweh heht moht (Roles & Responsibilities)
- This body will be recognized by Chief and Council and each Board through monthly, written recommendations handed into the Chief after each meeting.
- The spokesperson will bring their families top concerns forward and report back to their family on their solutions.
- Each meeting should deal with the top four concerns brought forward (group consensus) and give their recommended solutions in writing.
- Decision making will be by consensus, not quorum voting.
- Everyone has an equal say around the table and speakers will be recognized in order (talking stick).
- Keep comments impersonal, respectful and on topic.
- No person elected to C&C or a Board or a long-term staff member at the time will be able to be the spokesperson for their family (non-political body).
- This group will not supercede the C&C or the Boards and can only submit their recommendations.
- The maximum number of groups (20) with a minimum of (50) members needs to be determined for this to work.
How heh goos (Council and Boards)
- C&C and Boards will report back to the group and the community on a quarterly basis (in writing and/or general meeting) on what actions they have taken regarding recommendations (January/April?/July?/October?).
- The Band will provide a monthly meeting space, and a flip chart/pens.
- Progress will be monitored by positive changes to the community communication, policies, and overall improvement.
Jeh jeh (Families)
- Each family grouping will put forward one spokesperson and an alternate to attend monthly meetings.
- Each family will also identify their Headperson (generally an Elder).
- Each family is responsible for ensuring that they meet regularly and their spokesperson is meeting their needs.
- It is up to the family to replace their Headperson and spokesperson when necessary, through family consensus.
- Your spokesperson should be of voting age, and a resident community member.
- Individuals will decide which family they wish to align themselves with.
- All community members, not just Band members are included.
Yax utch (Background)
- Family spokespeople is not a new concept to our people, it is how our ancestors governed themselves in Pre-contact times;
- Each family grouping had a Headman who appointed different tasks based on the individual talents & strengths of his family members.
- Traditionally, it took a community to raise a child and everybody looked out for each other and helped each other, we need to return to that philosophy as much as we can.
- Good emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health began at home and people took pride in and responsibility for their family well-being.
- Indian Act elections took away the traditional responsibility to represent your family. Being elected makes you responsible for the whole community.
- This modern system has created division, mistrust and misguided ideas that lead to conflict in small close-knit communities.
Ye’thot (Goals & Objectives)
- Bring some of our traditional values back to how we govern ourselves and interact with each other.
- Community unity, by having issues addressed.
- Cut down on gossip, innuendo and rumors through healthy communication, acceptance of other view points, and collective acceptance of decisions.
- Build capacity and knowledge base of the many issues that face the community by having new people take on the responsibility of representing their family.
- Have information reach a broader base of community members.
- Provide a go-to person for those who don’t feel comfortable asking questions in front of a larger group.
- To improve some of our social issues such as income and education levels, housing, and health.
- Fair, effective, competent institutions & policies.
Tee my yin (Conclusion)
The most critical part of making Sijitus work will be that the organizations are diligent about following up on the issues brought forward and making those results public in a timely manner. Another success factor is for everyone to remember that this is a non-political process and not a program. It must remain for the people-by the people. Sijitus is a permanent structure that will lead into our self governance model.
It is more important than ever for individuals to take responsibility for being informed and participating in their political, economic and cultural life. We don’t always have to agree, but it is time for all of us to work together again.