Healing historical unresolved grief: a decolonizing methodology for Indigenous language revitalization and survival


  • Thohahoken Michael Doxtater


Indigenous language, grief, healing, decolonization, Mohawk


In this paper I describe an intervention requested by an Indigenous organization in northeastern North America. In this case the grief derives from the struggle to recover Kanienkeha—the endangered Mohawk Indigenous language. My model begins with the decolonizing methodology now accepted as healing historical unresolved grief to  affirm the foundational principles of Mohawk culture and pays homage to the ancestors. Following this exercise delegates freely share their feelings about the ancestors and the value of Mohawk culture—and how that culture is communicated through Indigenous language. This collective memory exercise is especially relevant in facilitating a workshop about an organization with a mission to save a threatened Indigenous language.

Author Biography

Thohahoken Michael Doxtater

Thohahoken Michael Doxtater, PhD

Associate Professor,

McGill University, Montreal Canada