Native American Heritage Month
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November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.
EVOLVE would like to use this month to educate our families and the general public about land recognition and the tribes in Minnesota, raise awareness about the American Indian/Alaska Natives Disproportionality in Child Welfare, and share ways in which you can decolonize Thanksgiving and celebrate the holiday respectfully.
WHY IS INDIGENOUS LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT IMPORTANT?
From the Native Governance Center.
“It is important to understand the longstanding history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation.” – Northwestern University.
“When we talk about land, land is part of who we are. It’s a mixture of our blood, our past, our current, and our future. We carry our ancestors in us, and they’re around us. As you all do.” – Mary Lyons (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe)
Do you know what land you are on?
Find out now > https://native-land.ca/
TIPS FOR CREATING AN INDIGENOUS LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT STATEMENT
Key components from the Native Governance Center.
- Start with self-reflection. Why am I doing this? What is my end goal? When will I have the largest impact?
- Do your homework.
- Use appropriate language.
- Use past, present, and future tenses. Indigenous people are still here, and they’re thriving. Don’t treat them as a relic of the past.
- Land acknowledgments shouldn’t be grim. They should function as living celebrations of Indigenous communities. Ask yourself, “How am I leaving Indigenous people in a stronger, more empowered place because of this land acknowledgment?” Focus on the positivity of who Indigenous people are today.
Learn more other factors to consider when doing a land acknowledgement.
TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES!
From the Native Governance Center.
Land acknowledgment alone is not enough. It’s merely a starting point. Ask yourself: how do I plan to take action to support Indigenous communities? Here are some examples of ways to take action:
- Support Indigenous organizations by donating your time and/or money.
- Support Indigenous-led grassroots change movements and campaigns. Encourage others to do so.
- Commit to returning land. Local, state, and federal governments around the world are currently returning land to Indigenous people. Individuals are returning their land, too. Research about your options to return your land.
What is Disproportionality in Child Welfare?
From the Disproportionality in Child Welfare Fact Sheet – A publication of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
“Research and data from states tell us that American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children are disproportionately represented (or overrepresented) in the child welfare system nationwide, especially in foster care. This means that higher percentages of AI/AN children are found in the child welfare system than in the general population.
The overrepresentation of AI/AN children often starts with reports of abuse and neglect at rates proportionate to their population numbers, but grows higher at each major decision point from investigation to placement, culminating in the overrepresentation of AI/AN children in placements outside the home.
One study found that, due in large part to systematic bias, where abuse has been reported AI/AN children are 2 times more likely to be investigated, 2 times more likely to have allegations of abuse substantiated, and 4 times more likely to be placed in foster care than White children.” – NICWA
What is the Indian Child Welfare Act?
“The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is a federal law that governs the removal and out-of-home placement of American Indian children. ICWA established standards for the placement of Indian children in foster and adoptive homes and enabled tribes and families to be involved in child welfare cases.
The law was enacted after recognition by the federal government that American Indian children were being removed from their homes and communities at a much higher rate than non-Native children.
Although the number of American Indian/Alaska Native children removed from their homes and/or placed with non-native families has dropped, American Indian/Alaska Native populations are still disproportionately represented in the child welfare system.” – National Conference of State Legislatures
How to Decolonize Thanksgiving and Celebrate the Holiday Respectfully.
Stories told about the first Thanksgiving often perpetuate harmful stereotypes and racism. It is important to acknowledge Native Peoples, debunk myths, and show Native Americans as contemporary people with dynamic thriving cultures. Native American Heritage Month offers many opportunities to move past one-dimensional representations. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to also go beyond the harmful “pilgrims and Indians” narrative and focus on common values: generosity, gratitude, and community.
Here are some ways you can decolonize Thanksgiving and honor Native peoples:
- Learn the real history. Thanksgiving isn’t often called Thanksgiving in Indigenous communities—the day has been known for 50 years as National Day of Mourning. Educate your family members by sharing the real history at family gatherings.
– With Thanksgiving: A Native American View
– The True Indigenous History of Thanksgiving
- Decolonize your dinner.
– How to Decolonize Your Thanksgiving Dinner
– The Native American Side of the Thanksgiving Menu
- Listen to Indigenous voices.
– We Are Still Here- A Message of Unity for Thanksgiving
- Buy Native this Holiday.
– Buy Native List
- Raise awareness about issues affecting indigenous communities.