As we reach the final days of Native American Heritage month and people come together over elaborate turkey dinners, we encourage everyone to take a moment to thank the Indigenous peoples of the United States in your thoughts and blessings. Remember that every step you take on this land holds the prayers, the hope, the wishes, the sadness, the footsteps, and the bones of our Indigenous ancestors. Think about the truth behind Thanksgiving and the genocide that followed. And join us in fully understanding the origin stories of this country, and honoring our true history.
First Nations recognizes the harm that comes from the false narratives many people hold about Native Americans. Faulty history lessons, media reports, and rumors leave many people with the false assumption that individual Native Americans are not U.S. citizens, receive money from the government, don’t pay taxes, are rich from casinos or go to college for free. All of these myths are of course untrue. At the same time, “positive” stereotypes often blend many unique tribes into one “Native American” persona that is perceived to be committed to family and culture, spiritual and mystical, resilient through historical challenges, fiercely protective of the land, and patriotic to the United States.
Non-Natives often hold these positive and negative stereotypes simultaneously: Native peoples living in poverty while also getting rich from casinos, or Native peoples being resilient but also addicted to drugs and alcohol. To many non-Natives, we are both the noble warrior and the savage warrior.
At First Nations, we work to address these stereotypes and reclaim Native truth. There are many ways you can join us.
Throughout your journey on this plane and in this lifetime, aim to make meaningful partnerships, allyships, and friendships with Indigenous peoples and Native-led organizations. Advocacy for Native communities should be at the forefront at this pivotal moment in time, during which racial justice and equity continue to become a revolution. Support cultural revival, language preservation, equal pay for Native women, increased philanthropic giving to Native-led nonprofits, and equal representation of Native leaders within our political systems.
By supporting these efforts, you contribute to the revitalization of culture, promoting community well-being and resiliency.
Indigenous peoples believe all things are interwoven, and through this interconnectedness we maintain harmony and balance. When afflicted by violence, destruction, disrespect for our land, and blatant disregard for human life, we see the chaos that ensues in many different forms. So, in this time of hustle and bustle, remember to be kind to your fellow human beings, show compassion in word and thought, help heal, and act as an agent of positive change.
Also, take the time as you gather with friends and family, to reflect on these 10 directives that are often referenced in Native American works as commandments or actions to guide Native advocacy, provide strength to Native peoples, and celebrate Native cultures:
- Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect
- Remain close to the Great Spirit
- Show great respect for your fellow beings
- Work together for the benefit of all Mankind
- Give assistance and kindness wherever needed
- Do what you know to be right
- Look after the well-being of Mind and Body
- Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good
- Be truthful and honest at all times
- Take full responsibility for your actions
By following these values, integrity ensues, creating a better world for us all. Thank you for joining us in telling these truths, and we wish you many blessings during this holiday season.
First Nations Development Officer