This week, we celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. It’s now an official holiday in more than 10 states, and over 100 cities in the U.S. It’s a day to celebrate the history, culture, tenacity, and experiences of Indigenous people – the original caretakers of Turtle Island (the land now called the United States). Thankfully, the holiday is gaining greater visibility across the country. This is due to the tireless, and decades-long advocacy of many people from the 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations.
Being visible is essential in a society that has worked so hard to marginalize and erase so many cultures, histories, and experiences. To have a voice and to be represented in the halls of power, in the media, in journalism, in education and more is critical to a community’s survival and ability to thrive. That’s what makes Indigenous People’s Day so important.
Indigenous people represent about 2% of the U.S. population, and have lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years. The rich cultures, ways of self-governance, family systems, agricultural techniques, languages, and spiritual practices of Tribal Nations came under attack and were nearly wiped out by European colonizers.
As we celebrate Indigenous People today and moving forward, let’s commit to learning more about the past and the present-day joys, hopes, and challenges. Together, we can work to overcome them. Here are a few resources to get you started:
The Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. This museum has a vast collection of Native American artifacts, classes, events, and more to help educate the public about Indigenous history and culture. You can visit in person or online.
We Still Live Here As Nutayuneân
This 60-minute documentary film tells the amazing story of the return of the Wampanoag language. The Wampanoag’s ancestors ensured the survival of the English settlers known as the Pilgrims in the early 1600s. They lived to regret it. Their language, silenced for more than a century, is back. To see the full film, click here.
Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC). The Keres Children’s Learning Center is a non-profit school in present-day New Mexico that supports Cochiti Pueblo children and families in maintaining, strengthening, and revitalizing their heritage language of Keres. For 10 years KCLC has created opportunities for children to learn in their heritage language while receiving instruction that cultivates curiosity and nurtures their whole being.
There There by Tommy Orange. There There is the debut novel by Cheyenne and Arapaho author Tommy Orange. The story follows a cast of 12 Native American characters traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Awarded the New York Times’ “10 Best Books of the Year” for 2018, There There has a powerful prologue and additional essays about Native American history and identity.
Sometimes we must be intentional about what allow ourselves to see. I hope these resources help you see more of the Indigenous community and inspire you to take action to ensure full inclusion.