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Opinion. Five years ago, the first weekend of December, I was at Standing Rock covering the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline for Native News Online. Bolstered by some 2,000 veterans who arrived to show support, the crowd swelled to an estimated 10,000 over the weekend. 

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This holiday weekend, I have taken time to reflect on Native American Heritage Month. One observation is that there have been a noticeable number of television programs and events highlighting Native Americans this November in comparison to previous years.

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Guest Opinion. The workers employed by Cherokee Nation take care of all of us. Whether serving as clerks, doctors, nurses, food service workers, teachers, accountants, language preservation experts, maintenance technicians or another of the many occupations in our workforce, they help hundreds of thousands of Cherokees across our reservation and the country. Our government workforce is over 4,200 strong, and 82 percent of them are Cherokee.

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Forty-one years ago this week I was a kindergartener at Riverside School in Vinita, Oklahoma, celebrating Thanksgiving. I could choose to make a “pilgrim” or an “Indian” costume, per my well-meaning teacher. I chose the Indian costume, which I made out of a paper sack. Then we ate and recited why we were thankful. My parents assured me later that day that I didn’t need a costume to be Cherokee because I was a Cherokee every day. That was important for me to hear. All of it was my first real and enduring Thanksgiving memory.

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Guest Opinion. Every year in November, Americans either knowingly or unknowingly celebrate settler colonialism, by gathering friends and family members of all ages to perpetuate a false narrative. Indigenous peoples have always been ignored when we have voiced our truth on the fourth Thursday in November. 

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Editor’s Note: This commentary first appeared in the Los Angeles Times on November 23, 2017. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

The first Thanksgiving I remember, I was in the second grade. I didn’t know my teacher had asked my dad to come talk to the class. When he walked in, I was embarrassed to see him there. He said that white people came and didn’t know how to survive on this land, so we helped them out, then celebrated with a meal. It was a story I’d heard in school before, but not at home.

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Most people in North America do not know it was Abraham Lincoln who created the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, in the midst of the Civil War, with hundreds of thousands dead. His proclamation creating the national holiday on the fourth Thursday of every November is more of a prayer, and was meant to unify a war-torn country. 

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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.

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Two significant things happened 750 miles apart in America on Friday. 

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While tough challenges are nothing new for Native Americans, nearly two years of COVID-19 have been brutal. Federal figures show the massive harm this pandemic has inflicted on us. COVID has hit Native American communities harder than any other community in the U.S. We have more than three times the hospitalization rate and more than twice the death rate as non-Native communities.