Indigenizing the Academy is like Putting Ode In

by waaseyaa'sin Christine Sy

This is a story about the heart and the brain. ode and ndib.

This is a long story,


Academia is cerebral.

Most academics are settlers. White settlers.

Most academics are cerebral white settlers.

(Sweeping statements and vast leaps in logic are abhorrent, yes. In this case, true and sound. Do the stats if you must; elucidate the links if need be. And here too, an olive branch: yes, yes, inclusion, diversity, equality, equity, decolonization, indigenization …yes, yes, yes.)


Girl, cerebral-ness is like




the brain

the mind

thought, think



cold, cool, colonial

yadda yadda.

Hearts think and thoughts beat (we know this to be true. we being indigenous you and indigenous me and anyone who lives deeply in their pain while still faithful to the idea of worlds that are wondrous and possible)

But academic cerebral settler-ness

is disconnected

from the heart

and the beat.


THAT power?

THAT power is the crux

of death and despair

and dehumanization everywhere.

Indigenizing the Academy is like putting ode in

Indigenizing the Academy is like pulling a silk thread out

from our heart-beings and heart-beats

Indigenizing the Academy is like using that silk heart thread

to connect heart and mind

Like pulling out your sheshegwan (rattle) or odewe’igan (drum)

and putting vibrations into the air

Like getting that connection beating,

a pulse

Indigenizing the Academy is like resuscitation

Like having to resuscitate

Like witnessing (the descendants of) imperial/globalized subjects

resist, become unsettled by, be afraid of

the (indigenous) heart

and the (indigenous) beat.

What is indigenous to Indigenous peoples

(the heart      and the beat      and the mind,     ALL TOGETHER NOW)

is strange and foreign to cerebral-centric settlers.

Indigenizing the Academy is like

having to teach the Academy

how to be cerebral

in an indigenous way.