Decolonizing the Mind with Dr. Michael Yellowbird

What an honor to host Dr. Michael Yellow Bird on the podcast! In this episode, we hear about the cycle of water; how Spirit embodies everything (and THAT is consciousness); that trauma has a consciousness; and that consciousness is shared: it goes beyond the individual. He shares about the clown who can show us that there is humor in death; he also says that indigenous peoples have safeguards to keep them well and healthy.

The conversation turns to the topic of colonization and oppression, and how this makes people ill, and changes the brain and body. Dr. Yellow Bird discusses the collectivist gene, and how we can all get back to our ancestral heritage (I have been working on this lately and I find it very consciousness positive, indeed).

Another critical point that comes up is the misuse of the term decolonization. Dr. Yellow Bird breaks down the stages of settler colonialism (exposure, contamination, infection, assimilation) and the stages of decolonization (purification, renaissance, enlightenment). Decolonization MUST be done in consultation and relationship with indigenous people. Dr. Yellow Bird is hopeful that we can use western and indigenous science to propel people forward.

The episode wraps up with some discussion of the medicine wheel; approaching new ideas, medicine, places, cultures with respect; and being a great observer.

Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PhD, is Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He is an enrolled member of the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) in North Dakota, USA. He has held faculty and administrative appointments at the University of British Columbia, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, Humboldt State University, and North Dakota State University. His research focuses on the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization, ancestral health, intermittent fasting, Indigenous mindfulness, neurodecolonization, mindful decolonization, and the cultural significance of Rez dogs.

He is the founder, director, and principal investigator of The Centre for Mindful Decolonization and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, research reports, and the co-editor of four books:

For Indigenous Eyes Only: The Decolonization Handbook, 2005
For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook, 2012
Indigenous Social Work around the World: towards Culturally Relevant Education and Practice, 2008
Decolonizing Social Work, 2013

He is the co-author of two recent books,: A Sahnish (Arikara) Ethnobotany (2020), and Decolonizing Holistic Pathways Towards Integrative Healing in Social Work (2021). 

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird
A spirit in an old home on Dr. Yellow Bird’s reservation
Dr. Yellow Bird’s grandfather, Crow Ghost. Picture taken by Edward Curtis in the early 1900s

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