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Actions and Updates from the Hakomi Reconciliation Committee

In 2019, the Hakomi Institute (HI) formed the Hakomi Name Committee, and the Hakomi Education Network (HEN) formed the Hopi Reconciliation Group to address concerns about cultural appropriation of the word “Hakomi.”

Both organizations share a collective origin story of our name and the desire to evolve our relationship with the Hopi People. In service to this commitment, the two groups joined together in 2020. They added three new members–two from the Hakomi Education Network and the Hakomi Institute Executive Director to form an advisory committee to study the issue of cultural appropriation. 

The ongoing work of the advisory committee is to: 

  1. Actively seek out a deeper understanding of the harms of colonialism.
  2. Understand better the concerns of oppressed and marginalized communities regarding using their language and cultural wisdom.
  3. Work towards relational repair with the Hopi People.
  4. Support the HI Board of Directors and HEN LT in understanding these issues; and
  5. Support the HEN LT and HI Board of Directors in taking concrete steps to ensure that we, as organizations, are living up to our values by honoring the importance of reciprocity with the Hopi People.

Since the summer of 2019, we have met as a committee at least monthly. As a group, we have been strengthening our connection to each other and working within a consensus decision-making model. In our collective processes and discussions, we have gotten clearer and more nuanced in our thinking and have allowed the questions we are facing to broaden beyond more than keeping or changing our name. We have explored cultural appropriation, organizational history, colonialism, linguistics, intention vs. impact, reciprocity, amends, etc. 

Having been charged with exploring the question of the Hakomi name, this committee came to recognize that our organizations have not stayed in a relationship with the Hopi peoples, and opening to a relationship is now our first intention.  With approval from the Hakomi Institute (HI) Board of Directors and the Hakomi Education Network (HEN) Leadership Team, the committee conversed with two paid indigenous consultants, both community activists and professional mediators. We began meeting with these consultants in January 2021. 

The role of these consultants is to prepare the five committee members to be in a receptive conversation with the Hopi people. The committee is engaging in work recommended by the Indigenous consultants. This work includes individual and collective listening processes for wounds seeking healing and repair, both within and between our teaching organizations and specifically regarding the use of the name Hakomi and its impact on the Hopi peoples. We see the need for us to support the acknowledgement and grieving of the genocide of indigenous peoples, and to participate in the cultural healing of this wounding.  

The foundation of our work is a set of guiding principles (Unity, Non-Violence, Organicity, Mindfulness, Mind/Body Holism). We seek to live out the spirit of these principles in our therapeutic work and organizational conduct by holding a deep commitment to hearing and respecting all voices, particularly those within a system that has not been fully heard. In honoring the spirit of Hakomi and the Unity principle, we recognize that, whether we change the name or not, we have the same work before us: that of reconciliation and establishing reciprocity

Our own principles, therefore, demand we seriously and vigorously seek to rectify any issues of cultural appropriation while also understanding and respecting the sense of sacredness with which many of our colleagues worldwide hold this name and its origins. 

Here are some specific steps we have taken so far:

The committee has been conducting interviews and seeking out the perspectives of people within and outside the organization, with particular emphasis on the views of indigenous consultants, activists, and educators. These interviews and professional consultations have helped us craft a plan for taking responsive action and initiating relational repair as needed with the Hopi People. This work is still in progress, and we commit to updating this statement as we take new steps and the process unfolds. 

  • In the fall of 2019, we met, organized, and educated ourselves on cultural appropriation.  In alignment with our own principles, we discerned that an important part of our work is to approach the questions of appropriation, from a relational perspective. 
  • In January of 2020, we began conducting interviews and seeking out the perspectives of people within and outside the organization, with particular emphasis on the views of indigenous consultants, activists, and educators. 
  • In August of 2020, we presented a bold and ambitious report to the HI Board of Directors.  In this report, we outline steps to build a reciprocal relationship with Hopi people while honoring the Hopi people’s authority of their own decisions about whether they choose to be in relationship with us or respond to us. In addition, we recommend that we proceed with discerning appropriate ways to honor our use of hakomi for all these years.  We outline this reciprocity is not transactional and does not resolve the questions about cultural appropriation.  Reciprocity is essential in moving toward reconciliation and honoring our principles. This proposal was approved by the HI Board of Directors in September 2020.  
  • In the fall of 2020, we began to bridge with the Hakomi Education Network (HEN) and form a collaborative committee.  The HEN Leadership Team also approved moving forward with the proposals presented. 
  • In January 2021, we began working with two Indigenous consultants to help prepare the committee members to be in a receptive conversation with the Hopi people. 
  • In August 2021, we presented at the annual Hakomi Institute (HI) Faculty Meeting. Our presentation included a video from one of our meetings with two Indigenous consultants in which they shared insights and recommendations for the process we are involved in. We heard from many faculty members that this video was especially touching and impactful. We invited reflective feedback on our work to date, welcoming all voices, after which we collected and collated the responses. There were varied responses along a spectrum of perspectives, though many indicated appreciation for and trust in our committee’s intentional process. 
  • Since the fall of 2021, we have emphasized engaging with and following our consultants’ recommendations that we spend a significant amount of time digging deep into our individual and collective unconscious around the nuances of the name question and that we actively pay attention to and share our dreams as part of this process. This practice has been eye-opening and intimacy-building. It has supported increased consensus around our ongoing strategy. 
  • In December 2021, we provided the Hakomi Education Network (HEN) with a similar presentation we had given to the HI faculty. 25 HEN members attended the presentation. As with the HI faculty, we asked for feedback and collected and collated responses. Attendees seemed excited about supporting healing and communication between the two organizations. Their responses to the questions about our use of the word Hakomi were also on a spectrum and quite similar to the feedback we received from the HI faculty. 
  • Throughout 2021, we continued our process of interviewing and seeking out perspectives from a variety of people, this included additional interviews with our international communities.  In collaboration with our Indigenous consultants we began deep listening for whom to converse with in the Hopi communities. 
  • In April 2022, we interviewed HI’s Executive Director, Denise Gaul, to gather her reflections on this question since she joined HI after we had done most of our community interviewing. 
  • In April 2022, we met with the HI Board of Directors to provide a brief update on our committee work and reconfirmed their full support of how we were approaching the name question. 
  • Throughout  2022, we researched, discerned, and followed organic connections to establish relationships with specific people of the Hopi Nation. In May 2022, we began the processing of seeking direct connection with representatives of the Hopi People. As we seek conversations, we recognize the need to align with their timetable and the importance of being respectful, caring, mindful, and responsive in the process. 
  • In January of 2023, our first opportunity to engage in relational reciprocity emerged.  We established a fundraising campaign within our organizations and collectively HI and HEN were able to provide additional financial support to a request received through Hopi friends. 

Where We are Today

Today, we find ourselves in consensus on the importance of prioritizing reciprocity and we are working on a formal process to respond to requests that emerge from relationships with Hopi people. We continue to work toward direct connections with representatives of the Hopi People and to respect their timetable in this process. We seek to listen to their perspectives, establish connections of reciprocity, and to make relational repair as it unfolds through these conversations. The question of the name is still being held in the spirit of what wants to happen and will unfold as we build a reciprocal relationship with the Hopi people.