While this time is filled with reverence internally, outside of my community the fall season is also full of cringe-worthy debacles. Between the racist costumes that arise around Halloween, the offensive mascots that storm the field, and the continued perpetuation of the false history of Thanksgiving, this season is challenging as a Native person.
Since the 1990s, the federal government has declared November “Native American Heritage Month.”
This year, however, the White House made another tactical effort to malign Native communities and Nations, proclaiming November as “National American History and Founders Month.” The announcement centers colonizers and “founding fathers,” invisibilizing the Indigenous people whose land was taken and the millions of Indigenous lives lost since contact because of genocide.
As Philip Deloria asks in his essay, “The Invention of Thanksgiving,” “how does one take on a myth?” At the USDAC we know that is not as simple as saying Indigenous peoples “are still here.” These times call on all of us to deconstruct the myths and falsehoods related to the “founding” of this country, and to work in active solidarity with Native communities. At the USDAC, we want to offer a few ways we might start:
Start Conversations + Take Action
Begin conversation around your turkey dinner this year. Use the USDAC’s
#HonorNativeLand Toolkit to investigate whose land you’re gathering
on and offer a land acknowledgment as a way of opening conversation.
Discuss with your loved ones the history you learned or didn’t learn
about Native peoples. Brainstorm together how can
you move beyond acknowledgment and into allyship and action. Is there a
commitment you can make together to learning more about the history of
the Indigenous communities that have inhabited the land you occupy? Are
there Indigenous-led organizations in your
community that you can support?
Understand that 100% of the land this country is on is occupied Native land. All. Of. It. In the video
“The ‘Indian Problem’” Suzan Harjo shares, “There was no land
brought here, the land here was Native Nations’.” She shares the power
of myths and falsehoods and how critical they are to the continual
dispossession of Native Peoples of their land.
Join the movement to recognize
Native American history as American History. This social media
campaign is working to visually represent how there would be no American
History without the Native American contributions, protection and
stewardship of Turtle Island (the above photo of me
is part of this campaign).
Here’s a great, annotated list of selections from the First Nations Development Institute.
Indigenous peoples and communities are on the frontlines of the
protection of Earth Mother. USDAC, has been working to support Climate
Strikes through the USDAC
Bureau of Energy, Power, and Art. We feel strongly this intersection
is one we will grow in the next year and encourage you to show up for
the next Global Strike on Friday, November 29th.
USDAC Director of Decolonized Futures & Radical Dreams