Reflecting on Indigenous People’s Day

October 14, 2013 Leave a comment

In middle and high school, I challenged (and most likely annoyed) my teachers around this time of the year. I went to school in Plymouth, MA and wondered out loud why Native Americans would want to celebrate Columbus Day. “Shouldn’t it be a day of mourning for them?” I’d ask. I don’t recall any teacher having a good answer to my question or even being willing to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Every Indigenous People’s Day is a great opportunity to reflect on the founding of this nation and the privileges that have accrued to all of us whose ancestors hailed from other places. The land, which has become the basis for wealth and well-being in the U.S., was largely stolen, swindled or taken by force. We Shall Remain and Unnatural Causes Episode 4: Bad Sugar provide powerful opportunities to learn the history and see the connections to present-day conditions. Honestly, the more I learn, the more I feel regret, shame and powerlessness to redress the wrongs. My day-to-day experience is not defined by the Cherokee heritage in my family tree. So, after all these years, I am still looking for ways to be an effective ally to Native American communities and to leverage the considerable privilege that being a U.S. citizen affords me.

What answers have you found?

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