I hear the word "grassroots" used quite loosely within many Aboriginal organizations. What exactly does grassroots mean to you? - Nelson J.
Yeah ... I hear (and use) that word quite often myself.
Literally, the word grassroots implies that the creation of a social movement and the group supporting it is natural and spontaneous - as opposed to something that is orchestrated by traditional power structures. It's source may come from a phrase spoken back in 1912: "This party has come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people's hard necessities."
I will be the first to admit that this term is used quite freely within the Native community.
For the most part it rings true with whatever we as a people are involved in. Everything we do as a community is natural and spontaneous. We have always been able to depend on each other to come together and create something from nothing. As Native people, we often have to make a dollar out of fifteen cents.
However, this is not the case with all that claim "grassroots". Native people, just like the rest of the world, have individuals that choose to benefit themselves instead of their community. There are individuals who forget that there are Elders, single moms, huge families, youth etc that are depending on us to pool our resources and create real positive social change.
I warn you ... KEEP A LOOK OUT FOR GROUPS THAT ARE ASTROTURFING ... faking a grassroots movement is known as astroturfing (think fake grass - AstroTurf!). Basically, It means to mimic a grassroots organization, when in reality there are powerful lobbyists behind the movement hiding their true agenda by pretending to be individuals voicing their opinion. This hurts our people and only benefits an individual!
The true test of Native people is no longer how we deal with adversity - we all deal with that. Our true test now is when you give us power. Some choose to hoard it and it dies with them. When you share power it lasts generations.