It’s Indigenous People’s Day today. Some of you may know it by it’s former name. Columbus Day. Maybe you were like me and you were told a piece of the story growing up. You know, the part of the story where a brave man named Christopher Columbus discovered this land called “the americas”? Well, I finally put two and two together and realized that all those stories in my childhood of native people’s having their land taken from them, and Columbus were actually one and the same story, but with many half truths, lies, and some very important details taken out. I finally realized that the land Columbus discovered and Europeans eventually took over, was the land that indigenous people had been living on and thriving in for hundreds if not thousands of years. The conversations with my parents, about their generations’ games played like, “cowboys and indians”…it didn’t dawn on me how brutal and thoughtless those games were. How did this get missed? [This one’s on my reading list.] But now I know and I can’t go back. So here are a few things I’m committing to today [as in, for life].
- If my kids watch Peter Pan, we will make sure to talk about the stereotypes of Native children also known as “lost boys” in the story. We will talk about real chiefs and real indigenous female leaders.
- We will not wear Native American clothing as “costumes”. So that cute outfit my mom made for my daughter’s dress-up? It resembles Native American clothing, of some time period (I’m not sure exactly) and if my daughter chooses to wear it, she will know what she’s wearing and whose story it belongs too. She will hear about Native people’s in our own neighborhood and community.
- We will be careful to not take tribal designs (clothing, textiles, handbags, jewelry) and claim them as our own. We will honor them for whose they are and whose story they tell. That’s called cultural appropriation.
- We watch this, and are amazed by the art of Matika Wilbur.
- I will tell the stories of children of Native American/First Nations communities and the schools they were forced to attend, so when my kids hear about the challenges of life on the Reservations they will know that these communities have faced many hardships- generations of families broken apart, lack of systems that support, and emotional and psychological trauma that exceeds anything my children will probably ever face.
- We will commit ourselves to seeing the beauty of creation that God made, and seeing the beauty of indigenous people’s cultures and traditions that keep them rooted in their identity.
- We will read books, and books by Indigenous authors, not just books about “Native Americans” by non-native authors. Check out this list to start.
- I will remember Richard Twiss and Wiconi International and pray for the ministry of Corey Greaves and Mending Wings. I will thank my friend Lenore Three Stars for her wisdom and writing.
- I will choose not to ignore the #NoDAPL. Watch this.
It is Indigenous People’s Day. But every day is a day for all people to be fully and completely themselves including indigenous people in this country.