This Restorative Justice Life

70. Unsettling Settlers: Decolonizing Restorative Justice w/ Dr. Edward Valandra

March 10, 2022 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 2 Episode 14
This Restorative Justice Life
70. Unsettling Settlers: Decolonizing Restorative Justice w/ Dr. Edward Valandra
Show Notes Transcript

Edward C Valandra, Ph.D., is Sicangu Titunwan, born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. He received his B.A. in chemistry from Mankato State University, his M.A. in political science (public policy) from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and his Ph.D. in American Studies (Native Studies concentration) from SUNY-Buffalo.

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David (he/him)  
Dr. Valandra, it's been a long time coming, but welcome to this restorative justice life. Who are you?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Well, I would say that I am an indigenous person, my nation. We call ourselves the ott szolkowy or Yatabe. Our language that we speak is locked Kota, dot kata and Nakata. And our territory is the northern plains, maybe to give the listeners kind of a geo spatial orientation. It includes all of South Dakota, North Dakota, most of the Nebraska parts of Wyoming, parts of Montana, the southern provinces of Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, Minnesota, as well. So, so we have a very expansive territory, which is settler occupied. I might add that illegally, of course, but that is basically our homeland, and born and raised there in what we call, but it's also called the Great Sioux Nation. So yeah, I am. I'm about as indigenous as one can get in North America. 

David (he/him)  
Who are you? 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Who, who am I? Well, I think I'm the protocols would really demand a lot more detail than I have given within nation, I mean, when we talk to each other, we we go through a whole protocols, so we can position ourselves, but I think that is something that most setlers would be too much details for one it involves the use of the, the language and you get lost in the in the nuances. So, Who am I I would say, I am a resistor, you know, been been questioning colonization forever. I am a father. I have three children. The youngest one is up in British Columbia, on the frontlines of the resistance that has caught a lot of attention up in Canada. And she's eight years old, and she's quite a fighter. She's in the frontlines. And so I have to give a shout out to my Wesselton relatives up there. And in their struggle against coastal link gasline. And, of course, against the province of British Columbia, Columbia, and of course, the Canadian settler state itself. So I'm so yeah, a father. And also I got several siblings, several relatives, please, it in our community, we generally joke that we're practically related to 99% of the population of our nation, just because how we have a kinship system set up. So that's a little bit more personal biography. I know you said you're going to ask me seven times, but hopefully I can take three or four of them at one swap there. The other thing is, I've been educated in the West, you don't have a bachelor's, master's and PhD. So I know that. So I'm very much Western educated. 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
And I do a lot of writing, you know, one time as an undergraduate. I came home to on a visit, of course, I back then we had some of the senior citizen centers, not nursing homes or anything, but these are centers for the elderly to come and provide meals and things like that. And so I dropped in one time, just to see my grandmas and grandpas and other elderly or the community and my grandma, she asked me what was a study in college.

Dr. Edward Valandra  
And I had told her that well, I am studying how the white man thinks. She heard me say, you know, to her ears, she heard me say, I am studying to think like a white man. And I proceeded to get a lecture and in front of all the other elders and so on. She really lectured me about the strength of the law kata mind, you know, Lakota logic, the strength of our thinking processes. And why would I want to think like a white man? Well, of course, I sat there and I listened. You know, it's not us. It's not for me to, to, to correct an elder in front of every everyone else, particularly other elders. So I just I sat there and just listened. And then after she gave me the lecture, I leaned over to her and I said, Grandma said, I'm learning how they think I don't want to think like one. And she said, oh, oh. And so that was, you know, and I got those kind of messages the whole time, I was getting this westernized education, community members that always remind me, you know, who I am. And it's okay to get this education. But please do not get seduced by it, do not get co opted by it. And just remember who you are.

David (he/him)  
We'll take a couple of that. Who are you off there? Let's get two more in. Who are you?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Maybe this this might be the last one. But I worked for. I worked for living justice press, which is a small, nonprofit press, who specializes in circle in circle processes, restorative justice, and restorative practices. And they have an indigenous line as well. But mainly, their focus is circles, RJ NRP. And I just came on board with them in June of 2020. So um, I just recent, but I've been affiliated with was living justice press for a long time. I mean, I would engage with them, do some work for them. But I, I came on board. And prior to that, I was I was a senior administrator for our native school, K 12. Spent four years as a, as a senior administrator, focusing on faculty development, professional development, and then before before that, I was a university professor for the longest time in Native studies. So

David (he/him)  
beautiful. You got one more in you. Who are you?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Guys, you'd probably have to contact the FBI or someone like that to get the part. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
Well, thank you so much for being here. We're going to get into the intersection to so many of those things, right after this.

David (he/him)  
Well, Edward, again, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing with us so much that you've already shared, it's always good to check in at the start of conversation. So to the extent that you want to answer the question, in this moment, how are you?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
I am good. I am. Again, I think I'm busy with some of the projects I think we might mention later on in the program. But I'm good. You know, I'm surviving the cold northern winters up here. So that's always good. But overall, yeah, thank thanks for asking, I'm doing doing well.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, it's, it's so good to hear. In the midst of everything that's going on in the world, we still have the ability to say that we ourselves in the places that we're in, are Well, I'm glad to hear it. As you shared in your introduction, you've been doing this work around decolonization, and maybe around the words, quote unquote, restorative justice for a long time, but probably before you even knew the word restorative justice, both in English and as a concept. So your own words, how did this journey of this quote unquote, restorative justice, life get started for you?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
You know, back in June of I mean, not June, but April of 2018. I was at a, I attended a conference. And one of the questions related to what, what, what yours is, was how did you come into restorative justice? So my response was, I was born into it basically. Again, we didn't, we didn't call it restorative justice. But how we engaged in interpersonal relationships in a community really had all the elements that restorative justice talks about, you know, building relationships. And, of course, I think the what's what differentiates ours aren't our notion of restorative justice as well. We didn't, we're not so much about building and establish relationships in my community as much as we're born into those relationships. And what I mean by that is we have an extensive kinship system. So as you're born into that kinship system, you're already born into a, a mutually set of obligations and responsibilities to your relatives. And so the bottom line of, of, of that kinship system, is to do no harm course, we didn't call it restorative justice. But it was the elements that define restorative justice are certainly there. 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
And I think, because of settler colonialization, you know, it's hard to practice that, that kinship system in which you have to be a good relative, and you do no harm. And because of the westernization effect, it has really stressed that stressed in a way that it it has disrupted those systems as we know them. And that probably goes into the notion of decolonization as well. We're doing decolonization work before we even realize that was decolonization. And, and so it's interesting as a as a professor, I, you know, when I would talk to native students about colonization, and in its manifestations. Those students would say, Well, I felt all of that I experienced all that. But now I understand the framework of those experiences. In other words, you know, I think sometimes we need a we need some conceptualization to, to make sense of the experience. And so again, you know, we, we probably have experienced a lot of these things, but when, when we learn what colonization is the light bulb goes off. When we become aware of restorative justice, the light bulb goes off. And it's like, yeah, we've been doing that. We understand that's what it is. We just didn't call it that.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, what comes to mind? You know, are the words of Adrienne Rich, and they were highlighted to me by bell hooks. Adrienne Rich was someone who survived the concentration camps. Boss, excuse me, concentration camps in Nazi Germany. And you know, in a poem, she wrote to her people like these are the colonizers, sorry, these are the oppressors. Words, this is the oppressors language, but I need them to speak with you, right. So to use the link, to use the English language, right to put things in terms of like colonization, and build those frameworks to describe the processes, the things that people have encountered, the systems that people have encountered that name, the harm, and show how that harmless systemically built into the way that we are like, is really important. But you said a word that has stuck out to me since I heard you speak in Denver in 2019, at the NACRJ conference, and you'll be speaking at the 2022 one of this coming summer. But this idea of being good relatives is really at the core of what this is. And restorative justice doesn't really the words restorative justice don't necessarily equate to being good relatives in English. Is there a phrase in one of your languages that really gets to that idea? Because I struggle with like the idea of restorative justice, both the English words being colonized words, but like those words also being so limiting to like, oh, how do we repair harm? But is there a phrase or a word in one of your languages that really gets to that idea, and I'm not saying that for like, appropriation reasons, but like, you know, English is so limited.

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Well, there's, there's actually um, you know, one of the things about native languages, particularly, the Lakota languages, it is a very descriptive language. And it's also a verb based, not noun based like English. So, a lot of the, a lot of the words that we have exemplify motion or action, or the state of being even like the, the, the the word lock, kata, or quota or not kata, that is a state of being and as actually being a relative's, you're actually that's verb form in which you're engaged in being a relative. And we saw So what would be millions of words? There's one that I hear quite, quite frequently among several others, but this one about Warlock kata, not a literal translation, but a close translation would would, would mean peace. Yeah, peace or being peaceful. It just really is a word that we hear a lot where I'm from, to be woloca as to be at peace is to be in the act of peace, always, always peaceful intention. So that that that would be one example I think of vocabulary that has meaning that would be related to restorative justice.

David (he/him)  
I think about the limits of like that literal translation between the between languages, right? Where being at peace in English, I'm sure doesn't like fully describe the idea that you're talking about, because within English, right, there can be like negative peace, where like, oh, there's no conflict, versus like, oh, we are in good relation. Another word, or phrase in Lakota that has resonated with me over time, just because I've been able to identify it across a couple of different language like phrases like mythique, Eosin, right? We're all relatives or like, and like when I think about different indigenous people across the world phrases like booboo, like I am, because you know, we are in luggage shell again, I am another you, you another me, we think about the Byun, which is a pre colonial language of the Philippines. Gunpla. Right? 

David (he/him)  
Like, the interconnection between all beings, that gets to the idea of like, you know, we're connected, we're relatives, but it's not necessarily about like, I think you can assume that like, oh, because of that relationship be good to each other to be in good relationship. But it doesn't necessarily say that verbiage. And so, yeah, I'm just trying to think about words beyond restorative justice, because I think, you know, you've created and you've co created with many authors, this effort of colorizing, restorative justice, bringing in voices centering voices that have not been recognized, privileged or even acknowledged, in this greater movement that's been happening since the late 70s, early 80s. But I think those words color right, like restorative justice are so limiting and thinking about like, the chapter that Christiane Erica and Michelle wrote where it's like, you know, burning this bridge, like, is this something that we should be even engaging with? And part of me says, yes, because like, these are common words that people are able to grasp onto, and we can move them towards being in better relationship with each other, reducing harm that's happening within schools, the criminal legal system, society at large. And the other part of me says, like, Yeah, but we're still bastardizing some of these other ideas, and I don't know that you have, like, I'm sure you don't have like, here's the like, you're all silver bullet answer. But when you think about the use of those words, what comes up for you?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Um, you mean, like burning, burning the bridge and

David (he/him)  
know, like, using language, restorative justice, versus creating something new that we're moving people towards that is more inclusive or more reflective of this relational way of being together?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
I guess you use the tools at hand. And one of the things I appreciate about restorative justice is one of the one of the defining definitions is to address harms as a result of wrongdoing. I mean, I think that, that has that definition has jumped out at me as Yeah, that that would be, that would be a good place to start. But I also know, and there's been criticisms within the indigenous world is, especially with settlers is what is there to restore, what what relationship has there been that needs to be restored? And so one of the criticisms, I think, from indigenous peoples, and maybe that may somewhat come out of the burning of the bridges, but I can't really speak for for the contributors, but it's like, what is it we're trying to restore here? Certainly, there's the Justice part of that. But if we've not had any, any any relationship with settlers on a scale of goodwill, of friendship, of reciprocity, it's always been basically a one way street. I think some of the indigenous people that I've talked about that do this kind of work, they may prefer terms like restorative practices, for example. 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
So I think, you know, there's there's there's a lot of things that are, I think, that are good about restorative justice. But again, you know, it, when we use terminology, and phrases, we all come to those phrases, probably a different set of experiences. And so it has to be very nuanced as you get into that. I mean, it's one of the reasons why I wrote that, that chapter on on doing the first time settlers in restorative justice. And, you know, calling attention to what does it mean to be a settler and restorative justice, particularly with indigenous peoples? You know, the first harm being the theft of land through genocide, and every harm, one could argue, because of that first harm, all other harms have resulted as as a result, or because of. And so for settlers to talk about restorative justice, undoing harms, establishing relationships, it seems somewhat hollow, and very superficial, as an indigenous person sitting in a room full of settlers that talk about undoing harms, and I'm sitting there going like, Well, what about the first time? Yeah, why not address that? Why not talking about that? And how to make that, right. So there's a lot of deep self reflective questions that come up when indigenous peoples and settlers get into the same space. And there's this presumption that we can start at somewhere down the line at the that what settlers would determine is restorative justice and indigenous peoples that are, you got to go back to like, 1492. And begin there. Yeah. And start that process.

David (he/him)  
If we were running a workshop right now we thinking about, like, you know, the harm that happened above the iceberg, and then like everything that contributed to it going on underneath the iceberg, those things are deep, and within a, quote, unquote, circle process that's happening in a school or something that's happening within the criminal legal system where you're just focused on, you know, this student threw a chair across the classroom or this person stole from, you know, this from the store, like, yes, that that's not something that they should have done. Right. But what about the harm that has happened to them? What about the land theft? And the genocide? Right, what about? And we can go like, up throughout history, like what about the enslavement of their people and kidnapping, right? And then, you know, what about the forced assimilation into boarding schools? Right, separation from the people? What about the systemic housing discrimination that withdrew resources from certain communities? How are we addressing those harms? You're talking about restoring this, you know, $5 candy bar that somebody took, right? Like that, that can ring hollow? When I read your chapter, and I've heard you say before, you know, the first thing that many people do when they wake up in the morning is set foot on stolen land. Right? That's, that's a reflection that I think about, because I'm curious for you, like, do you think about settler colonizers and settler immigrant refugees differently as someone who is biracial, right, somebody who has a, who has ancestors that were kidnapped from West Africa, and someone whose ancestors also aligned with US imperialism and joined the US military from the Philippines and then came here, like, is there a distinction between in your mind between settler colonizers people who have ancestry in Europe and came here and people who have come here against their will or economic refugees?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Well, I think, Well, I think one of the things we have to recognize about settler and settler colonialism, you know, and it's helpful. Like Patrick Wolfe began that narrative or that dialogue about settler colonialism and he was very emphatic about saying settler colonialism is a structure and not an event. So I think to your point of describing earlier, you know, one of the issues, let's say, with restorative justice initially was, um, it was usually between individuals. And so it was so. So restorative justice dealt with, you know, someone who did a harm and someone who was harmed very much at a, at a micro level of an individual, the individual, not really understanding the systemic nature of why that is economic disparities, health disparities, educational disparities, all these disparities that exist, may result from people having to let's say, in an economically depressed area, maybe maybe they're engaged in an activity that provides them an income of some kind, but is against the law. 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
And so they go after the superficial behavior, or you broke the law. And but not really going deep into what what's the structure out there that allows for, you know, behavior that is deemed illegal. So I think, moving into that, and talking about settlers, I tend to look at it as a structure, of course, that what is it about that structure that makes it so powerful and so enlightening to, you know, to the immigrants that come here? I mean, I'm sure that's the last thing they they think about, right? is like, Oh, I'm going to become a settler? Well, I think what happens is because of settler colonialism in the structure that in that set there, one of the things about being a settler, not explicitly stated, but you're going to displace indigenous peoples. And that this, that displacement means either you're going to kill them, remove them, or dispossessed them in some form or manner, even though you may have come from an area of the world in which you have to leave for economic reasons are for other reasons. So I think one of the things that I would argue about settler colonialism that is not articulated is people then are, and that's why it's a structure because it's past, present, and future. And so, what would it what would it have been if if settlers, quote unquote, came to this part of the world and said, the indigenous peoples, this is your land? We are guests, how can we be in a good way? Can you imagine it was even hard to imagine that now. But the initial settlers had enough power to say there are indigenous peoples here. They own this land. What is it that we can do in order to make our lives better? 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
And I think that's part of the issue, I think. So enter, and then you've raised the question, but there are other writings just now coming out, where we have settlers of color now, who are beginning to say, what is this thing called settler colonialism? And what's my role in that? Because as settlers of color they're still they're still oppressed by racism. And we see that in the States when you hear why settlers talons settlers of color, that they're not legitimate settlers. In other words, they're not entitled all the rights and privileges and immunities that white settlers have. And so there's so that's something I think settlers are color gonna have to kind of negotiate that space. of, of, yeah, they're settlers, but because of racism, they not.

Dr. Edward Valandra  
They might, they might not be legitimate settlers, the birther movement,all of this stuff, so So even within that settler sphere, settlers themselves are trying to determine who is the authentic settler? And I think that is something that they have to work out. But for us, settlers are going to have to I think when we when we say settlers, yeah, it's it's people who have come to displace us. And I've been through this notion of the logic of elimination. There's a lot of other structural things in place that are genocidal. And so when when when people come to this country as immigrants, I mean, that's the big story, right? This is a, this is the land of immigrants is a country of immigrants. That's the integration right there. I'm not an immigrant. We have stories going back since time immemorial, that we were always here. And I challenge any settler to find a native origin story that says they crossed the Bering Strait. Zero. All our stories of, of our origins are somewhere on this western hemisphere. So when the immigrant story, or when the story is told that this is a nation of immigrants, were you raised right off the bat? Can a settler honestly feel good about that? they're raising millions of people that's already been here before they even knew this part of the world even existed, and that legacy is still continuous. 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
So those are the deep questions. And this is one of the reasons I talk about when when indigenous people walk into a room full of settlers, settler fragility sets in right away, because are very present contest their legitimacy in this world. And so, so the the notion of authenticity comes into play. Because one of the things is settler colonialism is supposed to is all about erasure, the logic of elimination, so for still here, then that upsets the settler narrative, It unsettles them, and heaven forbid, shut us shut an indigenous person walk into a circle of settlers or a roomful of settlers, and say, we have the right to coexist. Not only that, but we have we want land returned. And then, you know, like white fragility settler settler for jewelry sets into and then we have this discomfort and awkwardness. And that, but that's fine. I think, you know, Erica, Little Wolf has said to whites and settlers alike, just sit in that zone of discomfort. It's good for you. It's healing for you. It's not always a bad thing. The fact that you feel threatened?

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I think one of the things that people jump to is like, Well, what do we do about it? Right? How do we fix it? And it's, it's not that simple to say, land back. Right? It's just like saying, like, reparations. Great. What does that mean? I think there are larger systemic things that can happen that I'll admit, like, I don't necessarily have the vision for. Because, you know, you can think about things that have been done, like in Oklahoma recently. But on a national level, like even Canada who went through a quote unquote, truth and reconciliation process, like, like, what has that actually resulted in? What are the impacts of either like micro or macro land back efforts that you've seen work well, like both on a systemic or like, I appreciate the framing that you gave around, you know, we're guests, how do we coexist in a good way in this in the space that is, you know, yours and your ancestors?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Well, what's interesting about the settler narrative is they make they make, they make it, they make it such that for indigenous people to ask for the return of land. They make that sound like that's a huge ask. But what settlers don't realize is they've asked so much from us. So if we have a document called a treaty that outlines our territory, and in that treaty, it says, No. Basically, it says, No settlers shall ever be in that area, because it's recognized as our nation. And then the 21st century there's settlers all over our homelands. That's not a big ask the app to question those settlers, what are you doing here? You know, and they get offended. And then he's shown this document called a treaty, which is an international agreement between two nations. And you read that line down says right here it says, other than indigenous people. No one else has a right to be here. So what are you doing here? And that's not even a big ask. That's something that let's say my love kata answer. Esther's and the settlers ancestors said back in 1868, this, this, this area is, will be recognized as the Lakota Nation, or the Great Sioux Nation. And they have all the sovereignty of any nation in the world. 

Dr. Edward Valandra  
So, forward 100. And some years later, we have settlers all over our homelands. And I would argue those are those are the undocumented immigrants. What are they doing here? And so when he just asked that question, you see settlers get upset, they get angry. They start, you know, an A, and then they just for asking a question, and and it's not even a big ask, we're just saying you, you made an agreement with us, why don't you honor it? What kind of people are you that make agreements and don't honor them, you might have a PR problem. As a result of that, not only among indigenous people, but all all other nations of the globe might look at settlers from the US as not being worthy of, of the word. So it has broader implications. I think what may bother settlers is, as indigenous people, we've known settlers longer than almost anyone in the entire world. So we know that they so we know that we know their deep, dark secrets. We know where the skeletons are buried. And we know that settlers closets, their skeletons still have meat on it. So this becomes one of, of deep issues of who you are as a person. Who do you represent? I mean, what do you represent? That is perhaps the the ethical and moral dilemma when indigenous peoples and settlers face each other? You know, we have to, we have to have that honest and authentic conversation. as uncomfortable as that might be. It still is one that has to happen.

David (he/him)  
And I appreciate you bringing Eric his words and like to be able to sit in that uncomfortability is what's necessary. I mean, it's what restorative justice practitioners ask everyone to do when you come into a circle process where you're confronting the harm that either you have caused, or the harm that, you know, has happened to you like, that is that is a place of growth. And, you know, if we're being true to, quote unquote, restorative principles, right, like, there is no predetermined outcome of like, XYZ, this is what happened. Like it's it's both in like that internal reflection in within the context of the relationship that we move towards being back, or being back in good relationship, or like creating a relationship that is good in balance. Have there been like, like, I appreciate you going where you did that. But I'm thinking, what comes to mind is like, have there been examples that come to mind for you of that happening? Well, on a micro or macro level?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Well, it's interesting that you could we talk about the micro level, I mean, I think it's one thing to engage on a one to one level. And that's one thing. I think there have been settlers who have taken actions as allies. And so that's much appreciated. You know, the, the one to one level certainly doesn't, you know, reflect that structural dimension. I mean, I have I have met many white settlers who don't agree with what's going on with, you know, that with respect to the land return issue, I mean, there are allies for that. But this has to be really at a at a more of a group level, a larger level. Because I've heard over the course of my life, you know, many, many white settlers who disagree with why not just return the land? Well, that's only one voice. And but I think it has to happen at a at a people's two peoples level. Really does it because the numbers aren't just there. So many settlers from cradle to grave or inculcated With this Sarah settler narrative, they can't even they can't even think outside of that framework. And then they personalize it so much. So an educative process about who settlers are, what their behavioral patterns consist of what their narrative is. I mean, it's a huge undertaking. And so to answer your question, I haven't really seen that that happened at a at a micro level, I have seen an I'm looking at one, I think the Taos people in the southwest, had had returned to them, I think 20,000 acres of land to them, but that that is such an outlier. And then what I end when I seen my was Salton relatives up in British Columbia, now they're, I think that's such a good model for settlers of how to address issues because the settlers there stepped up when the RCMP went in, and started assaulting the sovereignty of the authorities and people. And, and what happened across Canada, I think in February of 2020, settlers in support of those often people shut down Canada for a period of a week or something like that. So there's, there's examples, I think up in Canada that might help serve as a roadmap to how settlers can really become allies, and then develop those crucial relationships that are going to serve everyone down the line, you know, 1015 2030 years from now? I mean, this is the long term resistance, you know,

David (he/him)  
yeah. I mean, we're talking about 500 years. Plus, and, you know, we're talking about small actions that happen, but like those things do add up. There are things that you're calling for people who are settlers, not even just people who call themselves quote, unquote, restorative justice practitioners to think about, and I think that's really, really helpful, really insightful. And I know that I'm going to listen back on this conversation and do a little bit more reflection. I'm sure others will, too. But you know, you talked about how you started working with living justice press a couple years back to bring about a project around centering voices that have been historically marginalized, erased, excluded from this greater restorative justice movement. It culminated in this book called colorizing, restorative justice, we've had many of the contributing authors on these airwaves. But can you talk about the origins of that project, and why it was important for you to, you know, bring these voices together?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
You know, the nice baton, who's the executive director of LJP, I think we should give a shout out to her. She tells us she'll tell a better story than I will. But she was doing a, like an ad for further books. And she recall seeing in that ad, you know, they they featured some of the authors, and they were all white. And she said that was an I don't want to put words in her mouth. But it sounded to me like that was an epiphany for her. I mean, she's been thinking about other voices, non white voices, but that, and then just seeing basically all white authors or pictures of all white authors. At that point, she had just said, we got to do something, I have to do something. And because I haven't had an association with LDP, for several years, we had a talk. And I said, Well, let's, I suggest that what we do is let's, let's do a call. And so, you know, and and we've heard criticism of restorative justice, the ones that you were raising in this podcast. I mean, they were out there. So then, when we put the call together, we wanted to say, you know, what has been kind of the journey of restorative justice up to that point. And so I did a lot of research I, you know, went to a lot of the databases and did search terms on restorative justice restorative practice, and I don't know I must have downloaded about 75 articles. From over a 30 year period, it was very clear that much of RJ has been written by white. And that was very clear in the literature. And so it supported what I say practitioners of color are saying about their marginalized role in restorative justice, who gets the gigs Who gets invited to speak? Who gets the circle key? Who gets credential? I mean, all these questions. So then that's the so then so we put out a call, we did. And to be honest, we didn't really know what to expect. We didn't know if we'd get it because we asked for abstracts, basically. And we didn't know if we were going to get, you know, a dozen. But we had no idea. And we ended up with 64 submissions, of abstracts. And so that was a, so that told us that people of color, and indigenous people in restorative justice, our restorative practice our community justice, our trans transform, transformational justice, social justice, that that that resonated with them. So we got that many. And of course, then we had to go through and select the ones that we had the contributors now. And I would have to say, it was very, it was a very difficult choice. Because we, if we tried to publish everyone, we'd have like, eight volumes set of colorizing, RJ. And so that was the origins of that call. And then of the book it it was saying that people of color, indigenous people that have been involved in restorative justice restorative practices, really had something really had something to contribute and say about the state of restorative justice, our restorative practice. And so you know, I have to give a shout out to all those who submitted an abstract, and then for those contributors who submitted their manuscripts, you know, they're the real heroes in all of this. I mean, they, they were the ones that really made it pop. And, and so you know, I'm just grateful that people stepped up and submitted things for this call. So that that's kind of the, the short story of, of CRJ, it was fun working with all of them, you know, we have, we have become a community, in and of ourselves. And so, again, that that has been, for me, it's been very affirming, that, that I think communities of color, indigenous people have always taken a critical look at the status quo in this country, and have applied there those critical frameworks to make restorative justice, a lot more accessible and open.

Dr. Edward Valandra  
So, so it's been a good, it's been good in a lot of ways. And I and I really, am happy with with the result of of that process.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, what are some of the things that stand out to you is like, Oh, I'm so glad that this has happened. One of the things I know you didn't say, just the relationships that you have with all of these authors, so let's like, I'll give you your piece to say that, but external impacts, like, what are some of the things that you've seen as well,

Dr. Edward Valandra  
I think it has shifted the conversation. And it was sort of justice movement, or those sort of practice movement, I, I think having a tax like CRJ, in the hands of RJ practitioners of color and indigenous can can hold on to that book, and say, you know, we've been, these are the things we have been thinking about 20 Other people are also thinking about this. And it's in print. And it's a hard copy. It's, you know, it's, it's very, it's very material, you can hold on to it, and you can reference it. And then they can go into their circle. Their organizations are in their communities, and say, people have been, you know, people are naming these things, now. They're voicing their realities, if you will, and these are all experienced based. So I think that has shifted the conversation, and restorative justice movement and restorative practices to one in which, you know, things like race gets centered now. I mean, it, it is, it's no longer one of those silences that just sit there. I think settler colonialism is has been outed, in a way. So I think what that has done, it has encouraged or stimulated a dialogue within a restorative justice movement, about It shortcomings and what can what can be done more to make it more representative and reflective of the communities that are using it? So I think that's one of the major things that that has happened, it certainly has shifted the conversation.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I can definitely reflect just on my work when, within the context of amplify RJ, when I talk about values of restorative justice being equity, of course, as a black and Filipino person, I'm thinking through a racial lens. And when I say equity, I'm not just talking about like, treat everybody the same. I'm talking about what are the things that folks have all across intersectional identities, both their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. But like, you know, race was just thrown in there, not just because of this book, also, because of the quote, unquote, Racal research, I show racial reckoning of 2020. Like, it's been even more important for me to say like, this is restorative justice with an anti racist lens, right. And I've seen many practitioners across the space having to do that. Some of them still haven't. But we'll get, we'll get there, hopefully, or hopefully, you know, people will be able to start challenge like, challenging, why isn't this lens showing up in your work and like, to your point, this has been a great way for people to engage in that dialogue you have. And I know you've gotten lots of feedback from people all across the country. So much so that you're coming up with the second volume, and there's currently a call out for submission. So do you want to tell us about what that is? And you know, how people can submit and get involved? What you're looking for?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Yeah, you know, sometimes, this notion of racial reckoning happening in the US, and all and in all parts of the world. You know, the timing of the CRJ. You know, what happened with George Floyd and the other killings of unarmed black men and women, and youth? I think, you know, CRJ came out at a time when it was, it was obviously glaring, the role of racism is just alive. And well, it's so resilient. Right? So, so CRJ came into this conversation about, you know, racism, so So I think it was very, it was just really good timing. We didn't plan it that way. It just, it was supposed to happen that way. And so, so then once, once we published and then people were engaging the book, we decided, we wanted to do another project, of this, of this magnitude and of this nature. And the nice baton, again, who's the executive director of LJP. We had settled on doing another call, but it's called colorizing, circle practices, naming the silences. And so, you know, basically, we're still pushing the envelope on that, where, what are what are some of the silences that that manifest themselves in the circles? I think we're trying to go more for talking about the more systemic racism that's out there, not just the individual things. So we so we want to say, you know, as we enter these circles, we just can't, we just can't leave our experiences, our cultural upbringing, how we see the world, as you said, you know, through whatever lens we have, we just cannot, as we enter the circle, we just can't leave them outside that circle, and go and just agree to a certain certain prescriptions. And hope that does it. So we're hoping that, you know, when we name these silences, whatever those silences might be that that that just adds that next layer, or that other discussion about restorative justice and restorative practices and what goes on in circles? I think we're really wanting to because of colorizing, restorative justice and voicing our realities. Now we're looking at circles. We're looking at RJ in a larger sense now what what's going on in those circles? What is it? What does it mean to be in a racially mixed group of people? And what are those dynamics that happen there? And and we want to talk about those. And, and of course, you know, as well as I do, I know as, as Native people, when we're in a circle are more relaxed or More engaged or more animated. And then when we then when we have circles of color, which, you know, we have the Black and Brown Brothers and sisters, that's also that's also such an engaging dynamic. And then yet when a white enters that circle, I see that that dynamics begin to shift. And why is that? I mean, back home in my community, man, if we, if the community members are engaged and a white person walks in, we just we just shift. And they know, and I know whites do the same thing. You know, the small towns in rural South Dakota, go to the local cafe, or go to the local McDonald's and you see all these white guys sitting around having coffee, he walked in, they all stopped talking to, you know, so. So there's something going on, I don't know if it's a racial dynamic, or whatever that is. But I think we want to talk about what goes on in those circles or how we understand our processes circles. And we talked about naming a silences. So we're hoping that people will really bring

Dr. Edward Valandra  
insights into that into the circle dynamics. So, you know, maybe someone might have a practice, that colorizes that circle in a good way. And that'd be interesting to know, or find out and read about, you know, we, we hope that this next volume will, again, get people to to make submissions and, and we're excited about it. We think it'll be this this next book project will be just as strong or as stimulating as the first one. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
And the deadline for submission for this is pretty soon after deadline for submission of abstracts for this pretty soon after, this episode is airing, it's April 1, right? April Fool's Day, but that's a serious deadline, right? We'll attach to the call for contributors, the full description of that in the show notes for people who want to get involved, but you're asking for a just like a 300 word abstract at this point. Right.

Dr. Edward Valandra  
So for the so yeah, it's three to 500 words, and and what we're concerned about in the abstract is, is your idea, you know, what is? What is your idea? Why is it important? You know, and think there's a couple other things, you want to hear your idea why it's important. And does your idea speak to the issues raised in the call? Got a lot of questions there, and then the narrative? And then why is it important to the greater RJ RP community? So basically, we're just looking for ideas in terms of why do you feel it's important? How does it relate to the call, and then its, its impact on a greater community. So So that's, that's what we look for in an abstract is your idea primarily, and why that's important. Now, if you just give me a couple more minutes, let me tell you about these calls we write. You know, we do things a little bit differently. These calls are three, four pages long, but we want to provide so much context so whoever gets the call a read it. As opposed to I've seen other calls for papers or abstracts or proposals or just like a paragraph long and maybe bullet points of ideas here. We want to engage communities of color indigenous communities in this is the this is the the content and a context of this call. And that's where you have a lot of questions. That's what we have long deadlines. You know, we sent this out on January 17. on Martin Luther King Day, we have till April 1, but we know what we what we want it to have a long deadline so people can talk about this among themselves shared among themselves and began that conversation. Even if they don't submit something. It's we found out when the first calls that the first call, a lot of people were talking about it as as as something that was much needed. So we thought that's why I have such a long deadline for the for these calls is to let it sit and ferment among the community so they can have these discussions. We are April, April 1 is is the deadline, you know, three to 500 words? So yeah, that's one of the things

David (he/him)  
beautiful and people, if people have questions about that LJ press@aol.com, this place that ask those questions is also where you submit. But again, all of those things will be linked in the show notes. So folks can, you know, explore that. And please share that with practitioners circle keepers of the global majority in your spaces. One, because to your point, these conversations are worth having with needed even if you don't end up submitting, but but to those voices are needed, those voices are critical in contributing to this larger movement. You know, the other thing that is I know, you're working on a lot of different things, but you're going to be one of the keynote speakers at the NAC RJ conference in Chicago in July. Are there anything that you want to tease about what you're going to be sharing there? Or why people should show up? And, you know, participate in that gathering?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Gotcha. I have been given a lot of thought. And, of course, the the, I think that the theme of it is real. What was the name of the theme of the of the NAC, RJ? Oh, real transformation? There you go. real transformation? Where are we at? How do we get there, and I have a plan.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful, like, you're just gonna have to come to the conference to find out y'all. We also have the link to that in the shownotes. And you're gonna hear a little bit about this right now. And then I'm gonna run an ad for the conference at this point. And we're back. Well, Edward, thank you so much. Before we have you sign off, there are questions that everybody who comes on this podcast answer. So are you ready? Sure. In your own words, you're sort of justice is

Dr. Edward Valandra  
making things right. Making things right. And what I mean by that is, is acknowledging the harm has been done. And, and how to make it right. And, and I think that is, that is, to me, what restorative justice is, again, I don't want to get into details. But I think I have, I have ideas of how to make things right with respect to my nation and my people. So that's it, how to make things right.

David (he/him)  
Thank you, as you've been doing this work, and we can say this work broadly, in whatever way you want to interpret this. What's been a moment or a moment that you messed up or a moment where it's like, Oh, I wish I did something totally different. And what did you learn?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
What I have learned is that I wish, I wish that we could have done more in terms of unlikely do it in the future. But but but I think one of the things that contributors have done for the first book is how they might engage that material. And really had a lot of discussions around that, whether they resumed discussions or webinars or things like that they, they were the ones that really sold the book. And I think that is that is something that we've learned as in something we didn't really anticipate. Because we're thinking about how do we get the word out? Wow, we found out that the contributors or authors are the greatest advertisers for their work. And so that was really something that we took and learned and hopefully we'll do it for this next next one to how we should have done things different. I think we should have done pull up and we might still put a blurb on what we expect of abstracts. And I was trying to maybe do that in this podcast.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Well, you know, people have now listened people know where to get clarification, if there is any. So we'll make sure that you know, people are able to get in touch and share with all the people they need to and ask the questions that they need to. You get to sit in circle with four people living or past. Who are they? What is the question you ask the circle?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Oh my gosh. Okay, so for people that I would ask is a no one one well known in our in our nation, his name is Tasha Luca we'd call settlers No, no him as Crazy Horse. There will be Tatanka Tatanka IOKA day, which is Sitting Bull, and then ink balluta Who is that one's kind of hard to translate Scarlet point. And then the fourth one would be like, Man, I don't know what the fourth one would be. Maybe Vine Deloria Jr, who would be would be there are John Mohawk from the Seneca Nation. But these are basically all the people and and I guess I would ask them, why they they fought so hard against the overwhelming odds? What? Why was that important to them? Why did they feel it was so important to even give up their lives for their own nation, knowing that all the odds would indicate that they're the Resistance is futile. It's almost like the Ukrainians against the Russians have today. Like outgunned out man out resourced, and yet they decided that it was worth the fight. And that's what I would ask them.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. I know that you are not literally out there. Writing and shooting, but, you know, why do you do it?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Well, I think, I think it's because I think in all these and all these my experiences over the years and, and my relationships that I've had, with settlers and non settlers alike, is that I think the Lakota people, my nation, we have a we have a right to coexist, irrespective of what the settler narrative says are what others say. You know, we are, we were here, hundreds of 1000s of years before settlers ever came. And I want another 1000 years from now to be a lot of people. I don't know how that would look, but I just want us to always be here. So, yeah, I think I think coexistence is such an important and beautiful thing. And I just want to ensure that, that we are here, that we that we have a right to exist as as a nation, and as a people, we have much we have much to contribute to the globe.

David (he/him)  
salutely Yeah, thank you. Um, what's one thing or a mantra or affirmation, you want everyone listening to this to know?

Unknown Speaker  
Well, you know, I always talk about what it means to be a good relative. And that I think, is, is, is, is key. And what I mean by being a good relative is just not in a in the Human Sphere of things, but in, in a sense of the natural world as well. Because I think to be a good relative, really puts you on the spot, in terms of what your obligations are, and what your responsibilities are. And, and that, as a result of that, of being a good relative, you ensure that we also have another say no, then me.co, a Oyasumi, which is all my relations, but we do these things so that the people may live. And I think, to experience, this life, in human form, is worth the journey. And so I think that's part of, of our growth as, as, as people, we, you know, we start this journey, we end this journey, and what was the quality of that journey? What are your good relative? Did you do any harm? And if you did, how did you? How did you make it right?

David (he/him)  
You know, I first encountered you three years ago now at this point, and that that specific call has been something that I've like, come back to a lot. So one to you, thank you, and to our listeners, I hope that that you're able to sit with that as you navigate the rest of today. And as you go about, you know, the rest of your week in life moving forward, it's been a really helpful reframe for me that what does it mean to be a good relative? Now, there's two more questions, who's one person that I should have on the podcast? And you got to help me out?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Oh, my gosh, you know, I think it would be important for that I would I would nominate the nice proton only because she is a settler. She's white. She's female. But what was her internal, you know, dynamics that were going on, like what made her gyroscope align itself, so she should go this way. And I think her message may have resonance with maybe the the white listeners of the podcast as well as people of color when it gets when it gets down to this larger framework of racial reckoning. I think when whites stand up and step up, it has an impact on other whites. So I would, I would say she might be an individual you might want to put on the podcast.

David (he/him)  
And I'm sure that I can get that introductory email from you. And then finally, how and where can people support your work in the ways that you want to be supported? I know we've mentioned a couple right, we've got the the call for this new submission in the show notes. You can still order colorizing restorative justice will link that on living justice press buy it from the publisher, if you can. We've got the NAC ij conference coming up and links that will also be in the show notes. But how else can people support you in your work?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Well, you know, I think having more engagement with the contributors of the CRJ, for the for the communities of color indigenous communities, please submit manuscripts, even outside the call itself. We're always open to having full length manuscripts done or if you have a project, we're looking at manuscripts that deal with circles and restorative justice and restorative practices. So we're always looking for that. Education seems to be the big thing where RJ NRP is at but yeah, I would say to support, we could we are, we're just open to getting full full length manuscripts submitted so we can look at them and engaging the authors about their manuscript ideas, whether whether it'd be a good fit for publishing for them and for us, so that's, that's another one for like manuscripts and be good.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Well, that's a call that's a challenge to too many out there who I know have so much to contribute to this work in this space. Dr. Valandra, thank you so much. This conversation has both warmed my heart and like challenged me a lot. And I'm hoping that it's done the same for many of our listeners. Anything else want to leave the people with?

Dr. Edward Valandra  
Just be safe, and be a good relative? Yeah, be good relative.

David (he/him)  
You heard it. Thank you, everybody so much for taking a listen. This week. We'll be back with another wonderful conversation with some living this restorative justice life in a week. Until then, take care

Transcribed by https://otter.ai