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Ancestral Stories 

a community & culture building

class series for white folks

“Stories matter, you see. They’re not just entertainment —

Stories matter because humans are narrative creatures.
It’s not just simply that we like to tell stories, and to listen to them:
it’s that narrative is hard-wired into us.
It’s a function of our biology, and the way our brains have evolved over time.
We make sense of the world and fashion our identities through the sharing and passing on of stories.
And so the stories that we tell ourselves about the world and our place in it,
And the stories that are told to us by others about the world and our place in it,
Shape not just our own lives, but the world around us. 
The cultural narrative is the culture.”

                                                                                                             — Sharon Blackie 

Storytelling is as old as humanity. 

Sitting around the fire, your ancestors shared the stories of your people.

Stories of origin.

Stories of celebration.

Stories of warning.

Stories of life.

Stories of the land.

As people racialized as white many of our stories have been forgotten.

Many of our families did not pass down the stories of our ancestors.

Some of the stories were too painful to share.

Some of them were left behind and traded in for whiteness.

Some of the stories shared romanticized dominance & settler colonialism.

There are stories that are asking to be remembered.

There are stories that are asking to be reconciled.

There are stories that are asking to be brought forward from the shadows.

When we tell stories, we root.

When we tell stories, we remember our humanity.

When we share our stories, when we're witnessed, we move toward healing.

What stories are asking to be remembered?

What stories are asking to be shared?

What are the stories we want to pass down?

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We'll begin by choosing a folktale, folk character, god/goddess, or movement ancestor to explore over the course of our 6 months together.

 

Each month we'll focus on a particular story...

March: Opening // where we are now.

April: Birth Stories & Origin Stories // our story & the story of our people.

May: Stories of the Land // the land of our ancestors & the stolen land we live on now.

June: Migration Stories // why did they leave and where did they land?

July: Stories of the Oppressor // what was romanticized? what was kept hidden?

August: Stories of the Future // what are we dreaming into being?

September: Closing Weekend // the journey we took with our chosen folktale, folk character,

god/goddess, or movement ancestors.

We'll come together each month to share our stories.

To share what we're learning.

To share what we're uncovering.

We'll honor the many ways stories can be told.

We'll honor those who have come before us and those who will come after.

“I am beginning to believe that we know everything,

that all history, including the history of each family, is part of us,

such that,

when we hear any secret revealed our lives are made suddenly clearer to us,

as the unnatural heaviness of unspoken truth is dispersed.

For perhaps we are like stones;

our own history and the history of the world embedded in us,

we hold a deep sorrow within and cannot weep until that history is sung."

                                                                                                             — Susan Griffin

Ancestral Stories is for you if...

  • you identify as white and are seeking to build culture & community with other anti-racist white folks.

  • you'd like to deepen into relationship with your ancestors through storytelling.

  • you want to explore & learn the stories of your people and the land.

  • you have stories that are calling to be shared and witnessed. 

  • you're seeking to build culture beyond power & exploitation (aka the culture of white supremacy.) 

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“Culture is how our bodies retain and reenact history —

through the foods we eat (or refuse to eat);

the stories we tell;

the things that hold meaning for us;

the images that move us;

what we are able (and unable) to sense or feel or process;

the way we see the world; and a thousand other aspects of life.

Change culture and you can change lives.

You can also change the course of history."

                                                                                                             — Resmaa Menakem

The Details

  • 6 month class series, meets on the third Saturday of the month via Zoom.

  • Saturday, March 20th through Sunday, September 19th 2021 (we meet both days the closing weekend).

  • 10am - 12:30pm PST / 1pm - 3:30pm EST.

  • Space is limited to 11 participants.

  • The exchange is $400, 10% of which is donated to a BIPOC led organization TBA.

  • 2 sliding scale spots available.

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About Erin Caitlin Sweeney (she/her or they/them)

I'm a woman of European descent living in Huichin, the unceded Ohlone territory currently known as Oakland, CA. I'm a politicized healer, educator & group facilitator. I'm a Leo Sun & Aries Rising with a Pisces Moon. I'm a storyteller, plant lover, and dancer. My people come from what is now called Scotland, Ireland, France & Germany.

It would not be possible for me to do this work without the centuries-old efforts of Indigenous people and people of African descent on Turtle Island to hold onto & maintain their cultural traditions despite cultural appropriation, colonization, genocide and enslavement. I have deep gratitude for the Indigenous elders who shared this wisdom and  taught my teachers, Atava Garcia Swiecicki and Kimmy Johnson, how to connect & build relationship to their ancestors and to Dr. Apela Colorado for stewarding their learning environment. I started studying ancestral healing & remembrance work with Atava & Kimmy while getting my MA in Integrative Health Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I am a forever student committed to the path of healing, of remembering, of unlearning settler-colonialism & (the delusion of) white supremacy. I offer this work from a place of deep humility and gratitude. I offer this work because it is the foundation on which I stand. I offer this work because I fundamentally believe in it.