Photo: Skip Schiel

Louise Dunlap is a beloved teacher and facilitator, writer, and Buddhist activist. Her new book, Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing the Colonizer Mind,” was published by New Village Press in September 2022. The book traces the history of her family’s still-beautiful land at the edge of California’s famous Napa Valley, uncovering connections between the racist mind that made settlement possible and climate catastrophe as it unfolds today. It is a wake up call for white Americans and a touchstone for racial and environmental reckoning and healing in these perilous times.

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Louise has spent her 80 years on earth fascinated by the healing power of nature and truth-telling. This fascination has led her to far corners of the globe—MIT’s renowned halls, where she taught urban planners how to think and write about equity and space, community centers in South Africa’s townships, where she worked with women and labor activists to undo the harm of apartheid, and many recent actions in the Bay Area to expose the ravages of historical genocide on Indigenous people and modern day gentrification. At the top of her list now are organizing with other white people to change the mind of racism and finding joy in earth to help us face hard truths.

An ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing, Louise is a sought-after teacher and speaker, and widely published writer. Author Courtney Martin says, “Louise is the elder we’ve been waiting for—a model of how to live a life of self-examination, humble collaboration, and joyful transformation. It’s like she’s been presciently building all the muscles we most need in these urgent times for eight decades. I love to sit at her feet and learn.” The learning is always mutual.

Upcoming Book Events

Cover of Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing Colonizer Mind

Click image above to purchase book


In September 2022, Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing the Colonizer Mind was launched at an outdoor celebration on unceded Lisjan Ohlone land in what’s now Oakland, California. Sixty-five guests, including members of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, enjoyed a beautiful, cool evening with readings from the book, food from Wahpepah’s Kitchen, and each others’ company. The event raised nearly $800 for Sogorea Te.’ through book sales and donations. (Within days, this organization received five acres of parkland donated by the City of Oakland—the first known Indigenous landback transaction offered by a US city!)

Louise is still planning book events—especially in conversation with people who are carrying on the land, ancestral, and social healing work begun in the book. Events will be listed on this site and in the New Village Press newsletter as they take shape.


Healing the Colonizer Mind

A Virtual Author Event with Louise Dunlap in Conversation with Aravinda Ananda

2–5pm, Sunday, May 19, 2024, online

INTERHELP warmly welcomes you to join us for an event with Louise Dunlap, author of the book Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing the Colonizer Mind.

This event will follow the spiral of the Work That Reconnects, weaving together conversation between the event host, Aravinda Ananda, Louise and participants, with practices for healing and transformation. Some of our focus will be on the Northeast, but we welcome participants from every region of Turtle Island and beyond.

In lieu of payment for registering for this event, please consider contributing to a northeast Indigenous effort. More information about opportunities for this will be shared during the event.

Past Events

Santa Rosa Unitarian Universalists Church

547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Sermon and Workshop

Sunday, September 17, 2023 at 10:30am, in person and livestreamed
With follow up Workshop, Saturday, September 23, 2023

From Louise…

While researching my settler-ancestors and the land they took for their own in Northern California, I saw that colonization was far more violent than I had learned in school. Indigenous friends introduced me to the Native American idea of “the soul wound”–the deep and ongoing injury of colonization that affects not just the Original People but also perpetrators and the land itself. The soul wound is intergenerational and cumulative. I believe its effect on the perpetrators–where it is near-totally unrecognized–has led to the challenging environmental and social problems we face today. I have been awed and impressed with the healing underway in many Native communities, but we settler-descendants and beneficiaries of conquest are only beginning to see the painful work needed to heal with integrity from the wounds we also carry. Grief, apology, and repair must begin with the truth of what happened. Indigenous elders have said, “We don’t speak of these things without ceremony.” So, I am grateful for this sanctuary space with you–where we can begin to acknowledge the harm done in our name, reconnect with our true human goodness, and heal together.

Friends Association for Higher Education

Learning the Truth about Colonization from Family History

June 12–15, 2023 | Online — access limited to conference registrants.

A talk at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Friends (Quaker) Association for Higher Education, on the theme Quakers, Colonization, and Decolonization.

Click image below to view video of Louise’s presentation.

Louise Dunlap at Friends Association for Higher Education

The Praxis Peace Institute

Listening to the Land, Healing the Colonizer Mind

Thursday, May 4, at 4pm Pacific US/Canada | Tickets $20

From the Praxis Peace Institute website: Louise Dunlap’s new book, Inherited Silence: Listening to the Land, Healing the Colonizer Mind, is an insightful look at the historical damages early colonizers of America caused and how their descendants may heal the harm done to the earth and indigenous people. Dunlap tells the story of California’s Napa Valley — how the land fared during the onslaught of colonization and how it fares through drought, flooding, development, and wildfires that resulted from the colonial mind.

The Earth Holder Community presents

Ancestors as Earth Holders

Sunday, March 12, 11am-12:30pm Eastern US/Canada

With Ecotherapist J. Phoenix Smith, Louise will lead the Online Earth Holder Sangha, a mindfulness group in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh that is dedicated to the care of Mother Earth. We’ll explore the resonance between Buddhist and West African teachings with reference to ancestors and our responsibilities to heal their suffering and that of the earth.

Healing the Wounds of Colonization

On February 5, 2023, Louise gave the guest message (sermon) for the Sunday Service at the Napa Valley Unitarian Universalists, 1625 Salvador Ave, Napa CA.

Beyond Inherited Silence: Diving deeper into ancestors and repair

Video from an online event, January 12, 2023. Louise Dunlap with Hilary Giovale (Reparative Philanthropist) and Morgan Curtis (Ancestor and Money Coach)

Listening to the Napa Land

Video from Napa Bookmine with Patricia Damery, September 29, 2022

Ceremonial Dialogue on Ancestral Healing and Liberation Ecotherapy

Video from event with the Alliance for Ecotherapy and Social Justice, October 6, 2022

Telling the Truth About Our Ancestors

Video from event at the Napa Library, November 10, 2022