fbpx
 

Guest Opinion.  Native and Indigenous people live, thrive, and lead across the United States and around the world. Our people are a living testament of resistance, resilience, and revitalization. This country has a history of treating our people with cruelty and apathy but despite this, Native people have continued to persevere. Unfortunately, there are many people that continue their attempts to silence us and erase us and our humanity.

Native American Heritage Month, which is commemorated during November, should serve as a stark reminder of the power and strength that Native people hold but let me be clear: Native people deserve to be seen and celebrated all 365 days of the year. Today and every day going forward, we need to uplift and advocate for Native peoples, not just during the month of November.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

For those that may need a little guidance, here are a few ways for you to support Indigenous leadership, Native-led organizations, and Native communities and advocates and celebrate Native American Heritage Month in a significant and meaningful way. 

  1. Educate yourselves and others. Too often, Native peoples are asked to educate, curate, or provide their expertise during Native American Heritage Month without proper compensation or recognition. This month, take the initiative and do your own work to educate yourself on both the history of Native peoples but also our contemporary life. Sometimes learning means confronting uncomfortable truths about how you have contributed to the erasure of Native peoples. Embrace the discomfort, that means you’re growing. 
  1. Make space for Indigenous people in your life.  Are you following Native creators on social media? Are you reading Native authors? Are you watching Native created film and TV?  How about Native podcasters? If not, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to witness and enjoy the talent of Native creatives. And for those that are in a position of power – are you creating opportunities to embrace and uplift Native peoples at your company? In your writer’s room? On your runway? You’ll find that diversity invites innovation and genius. 
    Crystal Echo Hawk (Photo/IllumiNative)
  1. Support Native-led movements and organizations. Amplify and donate to Native-led organizations. By prioritizing support to Native-led organizations, you are supporting Native-led solutions. Be an advocate and make space for Native peoples. We face and are impacted by the same issues and often, our ancestors have already developed a way of solving them a long time ago. Look at cultural burns for example. How many wildfires could this country have prevented if they adopted cultural burns earlier? Supporting Native-led movements and solutions is beneficial to us all, so speak up when you don’t see Native organizations or leaders included. 
  1. Support Native owned businesses and companies. Buy from Native artists and designers and encourage your friends to as well. Don’t be a gatekeeper! Native artists and creators are innovative and many support and give back to their communities, prioritize sustainability practices, and uplift other Native artists. There are Native-led companies in almost every industry. If you’re looking to buy coffee, make-up, jewelry, art, books, clothes – consider buying them from a Native entrepreneur. 

How will you show up and be an ally to Native peoples, not just in November? These practices should be intentional and ongoing. We can create a more just and equitable world by supporting Indigenous people all year round. 

To learn more about how you can be an ally to Native peoples, visit illuminatives.org. 

Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee Nation of Oklahama) is the founder, president and CEO of IllumiNative, a nonprofit initiative designed to increase the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society.

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.