Increasing Visibility for Indigenous People in the Americas By Telling The Truth
My work is based in the Americas, mostly within the United States. In these times of Covid-19, my work is done from stolen, unceded Kizh/Tongva lands, now colonized and known as West Los Angeles County, California USA.
To learn what Native lands you are on, visit this page: https://native-land.ca/
When I talk and train about colonialism in the United States, I'm specifically talking about Settler Colonialism. I have found in my workshops that this is a concept that is largely unknown by my workshop participants.
Settler Colonialism in North America specifically refers to the goal of removing, eliminating, and erasing the Indigenous people and cultures of these lands so that White Europeans could establish their own new country on the ancestral lands of the Native people that had been here 10,000+ years.
In the relationships I have made over the years with Indigenous leaders, I have learned that the resilience and strength of Native people is strong, despite what this Country has attempted against them. As a Black woman whose ancestors had to survive colonialism and White Supremacy ideology for me to exist, that resilience inspires my work around the liberation (anti-oppression) of all equity-seeking groups.
Indigenous people in 2020 engaging in their cultural practices and customs, speaking and/or beginning to learn their language, making and/or wearing tribal clothing, and simply existing, is an explicit act of resistance to the settler colonialism represented by Christopher Columbus.
It's important to recognize that there are many Indigenous nations that didn't survive the genocide led by European colonizers, and many of those that physically survived were stripped of their language and cultural practices so that they may live. And many Indigenous people today are not able to live on their ancestral lands as a direct result of the forced displacement led by the United States Government.
To learn more, I would invite you to do a library or internet search on:
The Indian Removal Act of the United States
Indian Boarding Schools, which were literally created to strip native children of their traditions and replace them with European-cultures and customs. Many Indigenous children were held against their family's will.
And..there is so much more to learn.
To elevate and acknowledge the impact of colonization and the impact of U.S. Government policies is not a re-writing of history as President Trump's 2020 Columbus Day proclamation would have you believe.
Instead, it is the first step in truth and reconciliation. Throughout history, in policies and declarations similar to the one released today by the President, there has been an intentional erasure of Indigeneity from "American" history. We have a responsibility to promote visibility by telling the truth.
I am proud to live in Los Angeles County where October 12th is Indigenous People's Day. 14 states and nearly 130 cities currently celebrate this day instead of Columbus Day, which is our declaration that we won't celebrate perpetrators of genocide as national heroes. We have so much work to do, but this is a step in the right direction.
How to support Native Communities beyond acknowledging Indigenous People's Day?
I'm a learner myself, and as a result, here is what I can offer from what I've been taught:
Learn what tribal lands you are on.
Continue to learn about the Native American/Indigenous history in your community, state, and country through an Indigenous lens.
Learn about inequalities that still exist within indigenous communities.
During COVID-19, be mindful of Native spaces and don't let your desire for tourism let you spread coronavirus into Indigenous Communities. (eg. Stay Home)
Invest your Dollars In Native Businesses.
Support organizations advocating for Native American/Indigenous communities.
Support the needs of your local tribes when they have active requests. Find your local tribes here: https://500nations.com/500_Tribes.asp
Will add more links and resources as they are shared with me.