Challenging colonial mindsets

Mic+Sampson%2C+Frank+Waln%2C+and+Sam+Sampson+during+their+Jan.+22+performance+in+Centennial+Hall.%0APhoto+credit%3A+Alex+Cintado

Mic Sampson, Frank Waln, and Sam Sampson during their Jan. 22 performance in Centennial Hall. Photo credit: Alex Cintado

Mic Sampson, Frank Waln, and Sam Sampson during their Jan. 22 performance in Centennial Hall. Photo credit: Alex Cintado
Mic Sampson, Frank Waln, and Sam Sampson during their Jan. 22 performance in Centennial Hall.
Photo by Alex Cintado.

On Thursday of last week, Frank Waln and the Sampson Brothers performed in Centennial Hall to a crowd of Augustana students and community members. The message that they brought was much needed on our campus, and in our nation as a whole.
Waln combines activism with music through his performance, using his platform as a hip-hop artist to spread awareness and encourage activism. Passionate about topics ranging from environmental concerns to educating about the untold history of colonialism and genocide in our country, Waln provides a complex and compelling experience.
At Augustana, the concerns of Native Americans are virtually unknown. Despite the fact that our college is built on land once belonging to Bah-kho-je people, something Waln noted at the beginning of his performance, we reflect institutionally only on our college’s Swedish heritage. We do not know about or focus on the heritage of the people who lived on this land before the Swedes.
Colonialism is a concept that is unfamiliar to many, except in vague, historical terms. That the United States began as thirteen British colonies is common knowledge, but the implications of colonization surrounding that are less well known.
These implications have been and continue to be deadly and hurtful to the people who were here before colonization happened – in our context, the Native Americans.
Colonization is responsible for the reservation system that relegates most Native Americans to stoic Western stereotypes found in Hollywood.
Mic and Sam Sampson, who are both hoop and fancy dancers, in particular spoke on this problem of stereotypes, and how they strive to break these stereotypes when they perform. All three educate about the histories of sacred objects and practices that have been appropriated or banned by non-Natives.
All traditional Native spiritual and religious practices were banned in the United States until the 1970s, for example. Yet modern sports teams appropriate and profit from images of stereotyped Native American men, degrading them to mere mascots.
In the modern day, Native Americans are still being impacted by colonial mindsets, their very images being taken from them and used against them, as their land and resources were once taken and used against them by colonizers.
Plenty of Augustana students consume such mascots without question, or with anger if their right to these mascots is questioned. Hopefully such colonial mindsets will begin to change in the wake of the performance by Waln and the Sampson Brothers.