The United States claims to be established on principles of equality — yet not all people are treated equally by or within U.S. society. Since its inception, the U.S. has been designed to privilege, prioritize and empower certain identities over others through the systems of white supremacy and racism, cis-heteropatriarchy, classism, ableism, human supremacy and American exceptionalism (to name just a few) — scroll to the bottom to see a short glossary, in case any of these terms are new to you. All identities that deviate from the “societal norms” created primarily by white, land-owning men, are targets of personal and structural discrimination, resulting in individual pain and systemic inequity. Our work engages education, dialogue and action that seek to play a role in illuminating and dismantling these systems of oppression. As an organization dedicated to reawakening an innate sense of interrelationship between humans and our ecological kin, assuming this responsibility is imperative to the integrity of our work. We invite you to join us.
We strive to uphold equity, which necessitates reckoning with the ways that systems of domination shape access to resources. Equity is different from equality. Equality assumes that treating everyone the same is enough because we are all starting from the same place and/or need (and want) the same things. But the notion that wealth simply accrues to those who work hard is a cultural myth —– a myth that upholds colonialism, white supremacy, cis-heterosexual male dominance and extractive capitalism. Equity, on the other hand, acknowledges that we live in a stratified society that reproduces itself by design and that different people need (and want) different things to succeed.
Weaving Earth was founded by white, cis-heterosexual, able-bodied leaders. We take seriously our complicity in perpetuating systems of harm and are doing our best to meaningfully contribute to the deconstruction of oppression in all of its forms, both as individuals and as an organization. This requires dedication and sustained, daily work. It is also a central pillar of our Relational Education curriculum.
We are committed to interrupting ongoing systems of inequity and the resulting lack of access to programs and education for marginalized identities. We recognize that U.S. Capitalism was built through slavery and white supremacy, on a foundation of attempted genocide of Indigenous People. We endeavor to make the exchange of resources for our offerings an embodied part of transforming unjust structures of money and wealth and their inherent connection to racism in this society.
Lifeways Back Access Fund: for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
In 2017 Weaving Earth established a Reparations Fund. This offering is not a scholarship fund, and we do not assume that individual BIPOC applicants do not have access to wealth—these funds are offered with a prayer for collective liberation. Given our collective inheritance and its relationship to displacement / disconnection, we do not want BIPOC participants to have to pay for the reclamation of connection to Land/Nature/Place.
In 2021, we changed the name of this fund to the Lifeways Back Access Fund, to articulate more clearly the earth-based prayer behind it. We lean on the words of our kin and co-collaborator, Pınar Sinopoulos-Lloyd, who reminds us that many of the so-called “skills” taught in the fields of nature connection and ancestral arts are:,
“…not skills — these are lifeways — indigenous, multi-species pedagogy for time immemorial. We have the right to access and reclaim our Lifeways.”
There is a difference between accessing lifeways and financial scholarship. The “sliding scale” for the Lifeways Back Access Fund begins at $0, and does not need to go any higher. However, it includes the possibility of offering a gift of any size which will go directly toward the Lifeways Back Access Fund to support other BIPOC participants in joining future programs.
If you are able to donate to this effort, you can do so safely on our website. Your tax-deductible donation to our Lifeways Back Access Fund makes all this possible.
Though no amount of restitution can undo the historic and present-day harm done on this continent and globally by supremacy culture, we nevertheless believe it is our responsibility to offer what we can as a step, albeit small and imperfect, toward a more just, equitable and regenerative future for all beings. Ultimately, for true healing, we need a culture-wide response to these historical and present day harms. We hold a prayer for the manifestation of the full expression of what reparations and land-back can and will mean in this country, and in the world. Thank you for considering joining us in whatever way you can.
Ultimately, for true healing, we need a culture-wide response to these historical and present day harms. We hold a prayer for the manifestation of the full expression of what reparations and land-back can and will mean in this country, and in the world.
Restitution and repair aren’t just financial.
We recognize that money is just one of the many barriers that limit access. To support the goals of the Lifeways Back Access Fund, Weaving Earth is committed to the redistribution of psychic freedom and burden. White people need to take responsibility for white supremacy. Depending on the program, we request — and most often require — some level of anti-oppression and privilege awareness of all white and white-passing participants. For certain programs, we integrate this kind of awareness training into the program curriculum itself. Depending on the logistics of the program, we also support BIPOC participants to have access to some form of equity time (learning a practice or lifeway, rest, time in nature, time together, etc) while white participants are engaged in direct conversations and/or learning about white supremacy.
Additionally, we take seriously our responsibility in playing an active role in broader cultural shifts that disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression. We are committed to doing this work within ourselves, within our organization and within all of our programs as best we can. We also know that we have much to learn, improve upon and deepen. We remain faithful to our learning journey, and know that the prayer will call forth the community, the individuals, and the resources in all forms to help elevate the work to the level we see is needed. May these efforts, and all of our daily choices, be a collective movement on the road to liberation.
Other forms of restitution are needed, too.
Supremacy culture in the United States targets many additional groups through extractivism (oppression of the Earth), ableism, ageism, anthropocentrism, anti-immigration, anti-Semitism, cis-genderism, colonialism, fat-phobia, heterosexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, nationalism, racism, religious persecution, sexism, and transphobia. The myriad barriers that the targets of these oppressive systems face in their daily lives are real, and we strive to offer financial support in acknowledgment of those barriers. We intend to interrupt ongoing systems of inequity and the resulting lack of access to programs and education for marginalized identities through providing access to our programs through a number of additional pathways : sliding scale, payment plans, and a General Scholarship fund. Our prayer is to make the exchange of resources for our programs a part of the long arc of changing our way of being with money, resources and wealth.
ableism — Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other. (from the Center for Disability Rights)
American exceptionalism — The idea that America’s political system, values, and history are unique, worthy of celebration, and free from criticism … the best that ever was. In addition to insulating our history and institutions from criticism, American exceptionalism presupposes that all other political systems, values, and histories are inadequate by comparison.
cis-heteropatriarchy — A compound term that encompasses interrelated injustices and oppressions: cis-genderism, patriarchy, and heterosexism. In brief, this system values, prioritizes and uplifts cis-gender people (cis-genderism), heterosexual thoughts and behavior (heterosexism), and cis-men over cis-women (patriarchy), to the exclusion of everyone else — which turns out to be most people.
cis-genderism — Encompasses prejudice, interpersonal discrimination, and structural discrimination against those who do not confrom to rigid, binary ideas about gender. Cisgender means that one’s gender identity matches their biological sex assigned at birth. Transgender means that one’s gender identify does not match their biological sex assigned at birth. There are many other types of gender expression, including genderfluid. Cis-genderism stigmatizes and marginalizes all expressions of gender that deviate from binary norms.
classism — Encompasses prejudice, interpersonal discrimination, and structural discrimination against those who come from working poor, working class, and other economically disenfranchised populations. In combination with the American myths about hard work, the American dream, and individual achievement, classism often manifests as a prejudice that people are poor because they are too lazy or unintelligent to succeed. The reality is that structural discrimination and economic inequity that is baked into the system are largely responsible.
extractivism — We use this term to refer to oppression of the earth itself. The word describes the process of removing raw resources from the earth — timber, ore, and otherwise — for the economic gain of distant interests, often in destructive fashion to the local community and ecology. Extractivism is typified by the clear-cutting of old growth forests, the Canadian tar sands, mountaintop removal mining, and other destructive industries. Extractivism goes beyond “natural” resources — it includes the extraction of labor and cultural expression, often without adequate or any compensation, from historically oppressed and disenfranchised communities. At its core, extractivism is a form of taking — by the powerful, for the powerful, without reciprocity or care for the social or ecological impacts of that action.
human supremacy — From an anthropocentric perspective, humankind is seen as separate from nature and superior to it, and other entities (animals, plants, minerals, etc) are viewed as resources for humans to use. Anthropocentrism interprets or regards the world in terms of human values and experiences.
white supremacy — White supremacy is a system in which white people, white bodies, and white culture are seen as the norm and also as superior to any other people, bodies, and cultures. Sometimes, white supremacy manifests in violent, hateful ways — the KKK and the alt-right, for example. But white supremacy is much broader than that. It is a pervasive system that we are all participating in, even if we do not engage in overtly racist speech or action.
Written by Kailea Frederick
This past year I was on the receiving end of the Weaving Earth Reparations Fund. This was also the first time that I ever received Reparations and it was an experience that has provided healing in powerful ways.
To create context, my mother is African American, and my father First Nations. We descend from both Tahltan and Kaska Nation, two separate groups of Native peoples of what is known as British Columbia and the Southern part of the Yukon. I am in every sense of the acronym, a BIPOC: a Black, Indigenous Person of Color. None of this part of my identity has ever escaped me as I am a visibly brown woman who was raised by a visibly black woman. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, my family moved between the working class and low income, which means that I have had to receive scholarships my whole life. I am used to putting in a lot of effort for these scholarships, and then holding intense amounts of stress over myself in order to show up “perfectly.” I am used to internalizing aspects of my experience that might be challenging or difficult for me on an emotional level, always fearing that I will be kicked out or considered unworthy of continued support. The experience of being the “scholarship kid” has often been a source of anxiety and shame for me, of having to prove myself continuously.
The process of receiving an act of Reparations was the first time I entered into a different model of receiving, one where I was understood in the systemic why behind needing to receive. I remember that reading Weaving Earth’s document on Reparations brought tears to my eyes. I felt recognized and through this, less ashamed. The core of the need for Reparations was bigger than my own personal story, yet intricately linked to me and my family. It has been healing to feel that parts of my lineage are being repaid through my experience for the genocide, trauma and racist policies that created the inequity we have had to face and work at overcoming. All of this created a new sense in how I showed up to Weaving Earth. I felt that I was allowed to share when I was having a hard time, that I didn’t need to be performing in order to prove myself to the money. Ultimately it allowed me to show up as myself which has been the number one reason why I have been able to advocate for this program.
It goes without saying that I could have never participated in Weaving Earth without this fund in place. Until three years ago when I moved here, the cost of attending the program was more than what I budgeted just for my basic living needs for an entire year. The importance of this fund existing for others to participate through an act of Reparations was made clear throughout the year as well. For many of us, there were core elements of the teachings that were part of our own cultures that had been lost through colonization. In the greatest act of irony, participating in Weaving Earth was one of the main access points for us to begin the act of learning and reclaiming some of these lost practices that once belonged to our own ancestors.
I believe that if Weaving Earth wants to continue to live into the practice of Collective Liberation, that the Reparations Fund will need to continue to exist and grow in order to widen the number of participants who are owed Reparations. We are finally reaching a time where broader awareness and more honesty is being brought into conversations related to racism and equity. The act of providing Reparations is a vital and healing part of this conversation.
In loving gratitude,
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