Returning to Sovereignty

5 min read (1067 words)


In 2020, I attended ‘Sovereign Sisters’, an event designed to bring women and their allies together. The intention was to talk about how to reclaim and reassert our sovereignty over ourselves and our food systems. As well as our economies so we could take care of ourselves and our communities. The gathering was inspired by Standing Rock Elder Cheryl Angel. She took a trip to Mexico in which she saw women making their own clothing and creating their own economies. She wanted to learn from them and bring their traditions to the Western world. 

The facilitators encouraged participation of Black, Indigenous, Asian, Aboriginal, Maori, First Nations, West Asian/Arab, Pacific Islander and other women of colour to join. Over 450 women from all around the world joined panels and talking circles. These were led by sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers of all nations, discussing the meaning and practice of sovereignty. Sovereignty means to have supreme control over oneself and believing that no one needs to be externally governed. I was invited to give menstrual cycle workshops to the women, who may otherwise never have heard my alternative, more positive narrative about our cycle.

The impact of colonialism 

The highlight for me was listening to an 80 year old South American Elder speaking only in Spanish. She didn’t look a day over 50 and wore her long, black hair in two side plaits. She had the smile and eyes of a child along with the wisdom of a thousand lifetimes. The moment she began to talk, I felt a shiver down my spine as I could feel and sense truth within her.

She shared how initially, when Europeans started to arrive in her community, they were met enthusiastically by the Indigenous. Conflicts eventually arose due to the fact that these Europeans seemed oblivious to the rhythms and spirit of nature. It became obvious that nature to them was seen as an obstacle, even an enemy. It was also a commodity. A forest was seen only for the number of feet of timber, a beaver colony for how much fur it could shed and a herd of buffalo for how much meat it could provide.

Her community’s ways of communing with spirit; such as prayer, meditation, dancing and singing were seen as forms of madness. Something to be cured rather than be encouraged and celebrated. As colonialism, capitalism, industrialism, patriarchy and science took centre stage, she told us that she witnessed the demise of her beloved community and land.

She shared how she remembered a happier, more peaceful and loving time in her life. Something she had been speaking of since her community was dismantled and had been advocating for ever since. Our Elder told us how everyone worked together, looked out for one another and stood united. Each person played a very important role in the life of the Indigenous community; they were builders, warriors, farmers, craftspeople, medicine people, dancers, singers and kept a childlike perspective to life.

Women have healing powers

Indigenous communities knew that due to their ability to carry and birth a child, women had deep healing powers. They were able to soothe ill souls with their chants and connection to the spirit world. Women weren’t labelled as ‘mad’ or with mental health issues. They were allowed to express themselves and their spiritual nature without fear of condemnation.

The men knew that women were the source of life, and provided a feeling of strength and consistency to their lives. There was a feeling of mutual respect between men and women as well as for nature. In many instances, the women were in charge of gathering materials and directed the building of the homes for everyone. Medicine Men and Women gathered herbs to create healing medicines for those who fell sick within the community. Women gathered firewood, cooked, and repaired clothing and shoes while the men hunted, protected the community and were heavily involved in the upbringing of the children.

Men, as well as women, were encouraged to cry and were not seen as weak for doing so. They believed that feelings/intuition were the Soul’s way of guiding them and they were invited to feel everything that came to them whilst not being overcome with emotion. When conflicts arose in her particular community, both men and women would gather, listen, mediate and resolve issues fairly quickly. As a child and young adolescent, she was part of a thriving, independent, but connected community and had felt free, open and connected.

Her people were deeply spiritually connected to the ether, with roots firmly in the earth resulting in an integrated and embodied human, living in alignment with their natural world. They cared for one another and their environment in ways that she hadn’t seen much of in the modern world.

Life changing stories 

When I heard her share, I was already on the path of deprograming and connecting back to Self. I was on the path of building a brighter, fairer and more connected future. In my heart, I knew I was on the right path, but there were fleeting times in which I thought I was too idealistic and that I was chasing a pipe dream.

Listening to her story gave me faith that the future of Sovereignty – having supreme control over oneself – is possible. Treedom yet unity, openness and connectedness I longed for was in reach and could be a reality for me and like-minded souls. So, I continued on this path of self-inquiry, living in service and creating the new future – or original – depending on your perspective.

It’s been 7  years since I left my old life and everything I knew in search of my Self. And it’s now that my big vision and dreams are starting to come to fruition — community, land, abundance and love. To my fellow dreamers, visionaries and disruptive thinkers, that beautiful future you hold in your heart is in reach. Keep your vision in your mind’s eye. Speak it, write it, sing it and dance it into reality. You’ve got to see the invisible to do the impossible.


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