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2/2020 - To fight back against spam comments, I am closing comments to all older posts. Current blog posts will still have comments open. I apologize for this inconvenience.

November 02, 2021

How to Respect and Support Indigenous Peoples / National Native American Heritage Month


For a good half of this year I committed myself to learning about the history of Indigenous peoples native to North America (like the Seminole nation that is native to the Floridian land where I now live), as well as Native American wisdom and their way of life. They were here before us and have learned (through force) European ways, but settlers then and Americans now know little about them and their ways. It’s time that changed.

In this post I am sharing resources I've found that can help you begin your journey of honoring and respecting Indigenous peoples.

First, it has to be said...


EDUCATE YOURSELF:

Nowadays, in the Age of Information, there's really no excuse for ignorance when there's so many resources out there and with how Google is accessible through the help of libraries and schools and Wi-Fi hotspots. Not to mention that libraries are there for this exact purpose. Only through educating ourselves will we ever be able to grow. Only through educating the next generation will anything change for the better. This doesn't just go for teachers, who should be allowed to teach our children about the true, full history of America (the things that have been erased or covered up or ignored), but this also applies to parents, guardians, and grandparents, even aunts and uncles. In other words, everyone.

Resources:

Indigenous Resistance Homework - This is a PDF with questions that can help you to begin your Indigenous education journey.

How to Talk About Native Nations: A Guide from Native Governance Center

A Self-Assessment from Native Governance Center



READ:

You can participate in the #NativeLiteratureChallenge2021 hosted by @NativeGirlsReading on Instagram. It may be November, but you still have time to read a book or two. With this challenge, you don't have to complete every prompt. You can check out suggest for each theme on The StoryGraph here.



Also check out these book recommendations:










FOR TWILIGHT FANS:

Are you a Twilight fan (or do you detest Twilight)? Donate to the Quileute Nation, either way. Why? Stephenie Meyer appropriated from the Quileute Nation who live in Forks (the setting of Twilight) in her series, and she never gave them any compensation for it. 

Move to Higher Ground is a project to help the Quileute Nation relocate their tribal school out of “a tsunami zone at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.”

Read about the cultural appropriation in Twilight: https://filmdaze.net/twilight-sagas-issue-with-indigenous-culture/ 

Learn more about the Quileute Nation: https://quileutenation.org/

Donate To:

Move to Higher Ground: https://mthg.org/


FOR TEACHERS:

Check out these articles:

10 Tips to Decolonize Your Classroom

Lessons Learned in Teaching Native American History

"In many schools, students are learning that Native American tribes no longer exist, or they gain the impression that Native Americans continue to live in teepees—misconceptions and biases that are damaging to modern Native communities." [1]

 

TRUTHSGIVING:

Learn about the true story of the first Thanksgiving, not the myth.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving as a day to spend with your family, but understanding the true history of this day is important. And passing on the truth to the next generation as well. Definitely give thanks for the ancestral land you live on. Also, pay respect to the Native peoples who lived there, were forcibly removed, lost their lives, and still live there today. A land acknowledgment would be a good thing to read out loud before eating. (See "Land Acknowledgment" below.)

For me, personally, last year, I made the decision not to celebrate Thanksgiving how I usually did moving forward. Now, I have my feast of thanksgiving on the autumn solstice. On Thanksgiving, its about Truthsgiving for me. I donate money to Indigenous organizations and further my education.

Further Reading:

Deconstructing the Myths of the “First Thanksgiving”

Truthsgiving: The True History of Thanksgiving

Truthsgiving Resources

Beyond the Thanksgiving Myth - PDF 

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address - PDF

American Indian Perspective on Thanksgiving - PDF 

Thanksgiving: A Native American View

The Suppressed Speech of Wamsutta (Frank B.) James


NATIVE-LAND.CA:

*NOTE: I shared this info in June in my Indigenous History Month/Florida & Seminole History post, but I thought it might be good to share it again.

To find out which Indigenous nations first lived on the land where you now call home, use Native-Land.ca. You can also search for the location where your paternal and maternal family called home for generations, which I think is equally important.

This is the map for where I live in Florida.


This is where my paternal and maternal families have lived for generations.


LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

*NOTE: I had shared some of this in the previously mentioned post, which is why, if you saw that post, this might look familiar.

After you search your address and look at the map on Native-Land.ca and learn about the nations/tribes, consider creating a Land Acknowledgement.

A Land Acknowledgement is used by Native and non-Native peoples to "recognize Indigenous Peoples who are the original stewards of the lands on which we now live." [2] A Land Acknowledgement could be read before private and public events, made into a plaque, and added to an institution's website (library, museum, university, etc.).

Although Land Acknowledgements are common for institutions, we should all make one. For personal use, you can have one on display in your home and your office, because your home and office are definitely on stolen homeland.


Digital Space:

Artists and activists often include one in their email signatures or on their websites. Teachers and scholars are including them in their course materials, as well.

I have one in my email signature and at the bottom of my blog. I also have one on my website. It's like the one below but revised for work, not home.

Why add a Land Acknowledgement to digital space?

Because cable line towers are in the ground that is Indigenous land (some are under the ground).


For more information on Land Acknowledgements and how to write one, see A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgment on NativeGov.Org and Five Steps to Writing a Land Acknowledgment.

TIP: If you Google "Land Acknowledgement [your state]," you will find examples on university websites.


NEW CONTENT UNIQUE TO THIS POST:

One important thing to add to your Land Acknowledgment is an action statement that the people hearing or reading it can take, as well as what you will do. Otherwise, it's just words and is optical allyship.

Here's my Land Acknowledgment posted in my home:

"This home resides on the ancestral and traditional homelands and resources of the Unconquered Seminole Tribe of Florida, the only Tribe in America that did not sign a peace treaty. Those in this home acknowledge and honor the federally recognized Seminole Tribe and their ancestors, who were stewards of this land going back 12,000 years. We recognize the Ais, Timucua, Apalachee, Tequesta, Tocobaga, Calusa, Matecumbe, and all of Florida’s ancestral tribes. We also recognize the Indigenous individuals and communities who were forcibly removed from their homeland, such as the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, as well as the many Native groups that call Florida home today, including the federally recognized Miccosukee Tribe. 

We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and the ongoing impact of settler colonial violence and dispossession. We encourage everyone who steps foot in this house to learn and educate others on Indigenous history and experiences, and to take action to end the continuing effects of settler colonialism. 

In offering this land acknowledgement, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty, and we commit to supporting Indigenous communities and being better stewards of the land we inhabit. To do this, these are the actions we will take:

1. Donate to one Native-led organization every month (such as LAND BACK and Honor the Earth), a sum that will fluctuate according to available finances. 

2. Amplify Native causes on social media.

3. Sign petitions and send letters about issues concerning Indigenous peoples and lands (such as halting pipelines).

4. Encourage others to take action to support Indigenous peoples.

5. Continue to educate ourselves through research and listening to Native voices.

 

[You can use my Land Acknowledgment for inspiration, but do not plagiarize it. That defeats the purpose of honoring and respecting Indigenous peoples with your carefully thought-out words and your own action plan.]

Our Land Acknowledgment statement by my front door with artwork from #HonorNativeLand. See below.


BEYOND LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

Check out these resources and next steps:

1. Read Native Governance Center's Beyond Land Acknowledgement: A Guide for more that you can do.

These next four steps here are from the same website page: #HonorNativeLand:

2. Download the Virtual Acknowledgement Resource Pack - this pack includes social media graphics you can share and digital backgrounds. This is especially useful for anyone who holds virtual meetings.

3. Download the Honor Native Land Guide.

4. Print, Customize, and Post #HonorNativeLand Art. These images are beautiful and are another way to acknowledge land. I have a small image in a frame on my desk as a reminder.

5. If you run or are part of an organization, collective, institution, or agency, take the pledge to commit to practicing traditional Native land acknowledgment.


LAND TAXES:

After you display your Land Acknowledgment, consider paying land taxes.

Land taxes are paid at a set time interval (such as monthly or quarterly) directly to Native nations or to local Native organizations, as a way to acknowledge your access to stolen Indigenous land and how you've benefited from what was put on that land (your home, your job, the institution where you earned your degree, etc.).

"Land taxes are not required and are entirely voluntary: it’s up to program participants to determine how much and how often they’d like to contribute." [3

To read more: Voluntary Land Taxes from Native Governance Center

1. If there is not a Voluntary Land Tax Program in your area (as this is more common in the West), you can find a local Native-led organization that helps Native peoples and set up a monthly donation of any amount. Whatever you can afford, even if that's $5. Every dollar will help them provide assistance and resources. 

2. If you have trouble finding a local Native-led organization for Native peoples, you could always set up a monthly donation plan with:

Native American Rights Fund - "NARF is a non-profit 501c(3) organization that focuses on applying existing laws and treaties to guarantee that national and state governments live up to their legal obligations."

Land Back - "LANDBACK is a movement that has existed for generations with a long legacy of organizing and sacrifice to get Indigenous Lands back into Indigenous hands."

See more organizations you can donate to below.


LAND RETURNS:

Now, this isn’t something everyone can do, but it's worth adding to this post. This is exactly how it sounds; returning land to Indigenous peoples (if they want it). You will still be allowed to live there and even farm there, but you'd be paying Tribal taxes to the nation or tribe instead of state taxes. (Your land would fall under tribal jurisdiction, not state.)

Read more: Land Reparations & Indigenous Solidarity Toolkit

At the very bottom of that page there's this tip: "another way to move towards land repatriation is sell acres of land and give the proceeds to support ongoing Indigenous-led organizing or land return struggles" since returning land may not be an available option if you have access to land.

Also see: Options for Transferring Land - A Brief Guide a PDF from Sustainable Economies Law Center


On my desk. Artwork from #HonorNativeLand.


DONATE:

Yes, I talked about taxes/donations under "LAND TAXES," but there are other times when making a donation is a sign of respect, such as on Thanksgiving Day, considering the true story and fallout of the  "happy" feast we all heard about as children.

Another day good for donations is Native American Heritage Day, which is the day after Thanksgiving but never gets recognition because of the preceding holiday and Black Friday sales.

Of course, November is National Native American Heritage Month, so you can make a donation at any time in November, as well as any time of the year. Giving Tuesday is on November 20th this year (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving).

I encourage you to make a donation this month. I'm making it a yearly tradition to make a donation on Truthsgiving (Thanksgiving).

DONATE TO:

Indian Residential School Survivors Society - "IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas." Canada

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition - Their mission is to “lead in the pursuit of understanding and addressing the ongoing trauma created by the U.S. Indian Boarding School policy.”

Donate directly to Water Protectors at the frontlines of Line 3. #StopLine3

Honor the Earth - "support Indigenous-led advocacy, education, and litigation to Stop Line 3."

National Indigenous Women's Resource Center - "Providing national leadership to end violence against American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian women..."

American Indian College Fund - "The American Indian College Fund invests in Native students and tribal college education to transform lives and communities."

MIPWhoIsMissing - "MMIWHOISMISSING is 100% Indigenous-lead. We are a sovereign and educational voice that advocates for grassroots efforts and supports tribal coalitions laying the groundwork, socially and politically to protect our Indigenous Populations from further Colonial Violence."

Indigenous Women Rising - "Indigenous Women Rising is committed to honoring Native & Indigenous People’s inherent right to equitable and culturally safe health options through accessible health education, resources, and advocacy."

Native Wellness Institute: "NWI exists to promote the well-being of Native people through programs and trainings that embrace the teachings and traditions of our ancestors."

Native Americans Right Funds

First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund


INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW:

@Decolonizemyself

@MMIWhoIsMissing

@NativeLandNet

@TiplerTeaches

@MissCorinne86

@IndigenousClimateChange

@IndigenousPeoplesMovement

Native Governance Center

@IndigenousWomenRising

@Indigenous Rising

@NDNCollective


FINAL THOUGHTS:

It's important to continue to take steps to support Indigenous communities. Making one donation a year, or even a monthly donation that you may not even notice coming out of your bank account (like your other automatic withdrawals), or writing a Land Acknowledgment and then doing nothing else, is not enough. Indigenous communities have long suffered from the impact of colonization and we (the ancestors of white settlers) have long since benefited. Use your privilege and benefits to help those whose homelands were stolen and lives taken.

I hope this post has encouraged and inspired you to take action. <3



6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! I appreciate your comment on this important post, Liz.

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  2. Gorgeous artwork! Love the resources, thank you :-)

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    Replies
    1. I love the artwork, too. And you’re welcome!

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  3. I've actually been reading a lot of books, too, about Native Americans. Thanks for sharing these resources. I think a lot of times people don't realize that things (like naming a sports team, "Indians") are offensive to a group of people.

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    1. I’m happy to hear you’ve been reading books about Native Americans.

      The problem with people not realizing things are offensive to marginalized and underrepresented groups is a result of our colonial history and our history of slavery and how much white supremacy is ingrained in every part our society (including…especially…what we’re taught or not taught). These things would’ve been known otherwise. But we can do something about it now by spreading awareness, learning and unlearning, and sharing information like this widely, :)

      Thanks for you comment, Sherry!

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