So it’s not a whole week, but I had to wrap up the last few days of November! And maybe encourage a look at the rest of the year, too.
You’ve already been learning and saying “thank you” in the Indigenous language of the land you’re on, so now choose two new words you use a lot. Maybe that’s something like “hello” or “see you later,” or maybe it’s a word not everybody says a lot but you do (“cool beans” anyone?) The holidays are upon us, so maybe there’s a holiday greeting, or maybe it’s something you say to your kids every night. Whatever it is, find out how to say that in the Indigenous language of the land you’re on, and start replacing the English word with the Indigenous phrase. Commit to doing that for at least the next month – all through December.
NEXT STEPS: Choose at least one new word or phrase each month of the year that you are going to completely replace with the Indigenous word – no English! This not only encourages further use of that language on the land, but it opens up conversations for you to have about the land you’re on, and the language of it.
Share, share, share! Share this challenge with others, share the knowledge you have learned, share the words, the foods, the music, the art. The more you share about the REAL people and culture and issues of the Indigenous people whose land you are on, the less work they need to do to counter stereotypes, or literally just let people know they exist, and live, and have a voice on the land still. Share it on social media, share it with your family, share it with your workplace. Continue to learn more about Indigenous people, cultures and issues, and continue to share. But for today’s challenge – just pick one thing you’ve learned from the last month and two places to share them.
NEXT STEPS: Advocate, advocate, advocate! When you have a bit of knowledge about a group or Indigenous issues, try and act like an ally. And note that a good ally takes their direction from the Indigenous people and organizations themselves. This may be the people or group from the land you are on, or this may be a statewide or national organization, but I can guarantee there are dozens of things you can advocate for on any given day that have directives publicly listed from Indigenous groups. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, the Violence Against Women Act, land rights, sovereignty issues, foods sovereignty and security, healthcare – maybe it’s an issue you chose earlier this month. Make a commitment that you will pick one issue and learn more, and do more – starting today.
To truly care about Native and Indigenous people in this country, the challenge can only be a start. The work must continue, and please be reminded that, for Native people, the battle against erasure never takes a break. It’s every day, every month, every year – and it can be exhausting. Native people have sustained hundreds of years of targeted erasure, and the only way we can truly break out of that is if the citizens of that government take part in the reversal of that policy and that social standard.
So for the rest of the year, act like Native Heritage Month is every day, all year. Pick these challenges and apply them all year, or find new challenges.
And, while you’re at it, make time to appreciate the joy of Native life and cultures every day too. We have an awful lot of it.