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  • kimthompson1

Indigenous Heritage Month

November is Indigenous Heritage Month. Here's some info and potential actions you can take.

This country can be pretty bizarre. On the one hand we celebrate Native American Heritage Month (though this should really be observed on a daily basis as anyone who is not indigenous and living in this country should have a mandate to reflect upon and actively try to atone for and counteract all the cruel and devastating things the colonizers did and still do). On the other hand, in the same month, there is the juxtaposition of the Thanksgiving holiday where we nominally thank the Wampanoag for helping the colonizers through their first winter in what was later known as the US. But what do the current colonizers (pretty much every non-indigenous person living in the US) actually DO to thank the various tribes who were forced to leave their lands so colonizers could occupy it (and continue to benefit from this theft)? The answer as far as I can tell is: Not much.

Here are some starting points, but please feel free to add other ideas in the comments section.

  • Learn about the Indigenous peoples who used to live on the land you currently occupy. If you live in the Bay Area, it is the Lisjan (Ohlone). Here is a great link to a website that is full of educational information about the Lisjan (Ohlone) and I've included an excerpt from their site below. Here is a link to a helpful site (Native Land Digital) where you can enter your address and it will let you what tribe the original people whose land you occupy belonged to. And if you're wondering what term(s) to use when describing Indigenous people, here's a link to give you some ideas.

"The Lisjan people have lived in the territory of Huchiun since the beginning of time.For thousands of years, hundreds of generations, the Lisjan Ohlone people have lived on the land that is now known as the East Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area. We did not own the land, we belonged to it. Generation after generation, we have cultivated reciprocal relationships with the plants and animals we share this place with, and developed beautiful and powerful cultural practices that keep us in balance."
  • There is an effort in the Bay Area to rematriate the land back to the original occupants. Here is a link to the Sogorea Te' Land Trust where you can pay Shuumi (Land Tax) to support them in their goal. It even has a Shuumi Calculator. Look to see if there is anything similar where you live and try to donate what you can.

This image is from the Sogorea Te' Land Trust page.

And to bring things back to the point of this website: wellness and mental health. Learn about mental health disparities of Indigenous Americans at sites like NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness), NIHB (National Indian Health Board), and PWNA (Partnership With Native Americans). Research is FINALLY getting around to studying ADHD amongst Indigenous Americans, so there will (hopefully) much more to come on that topic.

Thank you for reading this, try to be extra supportive to the Indigenous People of your region this month and please be thoughtful as you celebrate Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it). And don't forget that African Americans were also treated cruelly by colonizers; books like this one help to educate readers on the parallel nature of their enslavement and how too they were stripped of rights and dehumanized. Finally, if you're in the field of education where you have an immense impact on the growing minds of the children in your care, Lessons in Liberation: An Abolitionist Toolkit for Educators can help you learn to design or re-design your classroom to better support all underserved groups.

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