Decolonizing Plant Medicine
The land currently known as the United States was colonized using the brutal tactics of genocide and slavery. Ecosystems were destroyed as the Indigenous peoples were forced off their lands. Christian-based government policies prohibited spiritual and plant medicine practices and condoned the murder of healers. Europeans, who brought plants and plant medicine knowledge with them, learned from the African and Indigenous peoples while simultaneously abusing and oppressing them. These traumas and crimes continued for generations and it is foolish and short-sighted to pretend the impacts are not present in the modern “health and wellness” culture.
We must challenge ourselves to deconstruct systems of white supremacy and ensure that our actions in our business practices do not perpetuate it. We acknowledge that we have major gaps in our understanding of the facts of this colonial destruction and how it relates to the development of the modern allopathic medical system and the alternative medicine and holistic wellness “industries” of which we are a part. We are obviously indebted to the resilience of the Black and Indigenous people who kept their knowledge alive through the generations and shared it (or were forced to share it) with our white ancestors.
We will be supportive of Black and Indigenous herbalists without being extractive. We will do our own work to uncover the truths and do our part to start decolonizing plant medicine. We will engage in a thorough review of the literature on colonization and health and medicine. We will center the voices of Black and Indigenous authors and historians. We will publish an annotated bibliography on our website as we progress - we won’t wait until we are “done” to share what we are learning because we know that we will never be done. We will lead conversations in our community and use our new perspectives to guide our decision making and leverage our privileges.
Our research topics include, in no particular order:
Ecosystem destruction during western expansion of Europeans
Exchanges of plant medicine knowledge between colonizers, African slave communities, and Indigenous peoples
African and Indigenous methods of preserving and passing on their knowledge within their communities
White supremacy in the development of the regulated American medical establishment
Biographies of prominent Black and Indigenous healers and herbalists
Please check back soon for a link to our annotated bibliography.