Han Mitakuyepi (Hello) Friends and Relatives,
As National American Indian Heritage Month begins, and as we approach what is often called the “season of giving,” I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the opportunities we have before us to be generous with our time, minds, and resources. Generosity is a shared value of Native communities across Indian Country and one of the key values that guides our work at Native Ways Federation (NWF).
In 1990, the United States of America designated November as National American Indian Heritage Month. This month was intended as a time to learn about and celebrate the diverse stories, cultures, and contributions of the over six million Native people and 574 Native nations across this continent. It is also important to recognize that learning about, and honoring, the Indigenous nations and people of this country should not be reserved for one month out of the year because Native history is American history.
This country was founded on Native land and is still Native land. As we all, as human beings, navigate caring for the planet and our communities, non-Native people can learn from the wisdom and experiences of Indigenous people that stem from generations of ancestral wisdom and connections to all beings. At NWF, we ask that you take this time, during the month of November, to think about and plan for how you will learn from and support Native nations and communities moving forward beyond this month. The sharing of knowledge and values that Native people hold is a gift to the world.
Our communities strive to build connections that are relational based on values of communal generosity and reciprocity. But we have faced centuries of transactional and extractive relationships with people in positions of power in this country who have stolen our land, extracted our natural resources, forcefully removed our children, disconnected us from our Indigenous languages and cultures, and more. Native tribes, nonprofits and people are working every day to implement Native-led solutions to address the impacts of long-standing and contemporary challenges.
The “season of giving” is upon us. After all, Thanksgiving is in November. While recent years have finally seen increased awareness of the complicated and violent reality of the holiday, many families who no longer celebrate the colonial context of the day, still take the time to gather with family, share food, and extend gratitude. It’s also the month of Veteran’s Day (November 11th), National Philanthropy Day (November 15th), and Giving Tuesday (November 28th). These are all observations that include an emphasis on extending gratitude and recognition in some way.
With that context in mind, I invite you to join NWF in celebrating Native stories and cultures during this month and beyond:
- Donate to Native-Led Nonprofits: Give and give generously! Native people have the solutions that our communities, and this planet, need to thrive. Yet, without adequate, flexible resources it is challenging to be able to implement those solutions. Include Native-led nonprofits in your end of year and year-round giving plans. Need help finding an organization to donate to? Check out our list of Native-led nonprofits participating in #GiveNative this year!
- Learn About and From Native Nonprofits: There are Native nonprofits and Tribes working across a multitude of issue areas and topics, including the environment, sovereignty and governance, education, health, and more. Our searchable #GiveNative List is a great place to start to find Native-led nonprofits working across issue areas and geographies.
- Learn About Native History: Native history is American history. Learn whose land you are on and the history of the land and people—being intentional to learn from Native people. Engage with Native communities to understand contemporary issues and how you can better support them. Check out our Native Nations and Communities 101 Preview here.
There are incredible resources to help you with all of these opportunities, including a couple that we at Native Ways Federation have created or to which we have contributed:
#GiveNative: You can also support Native organizations this month by joining our #GiveNative campaign on Giving Tuesday and checking out the list of over 100 Native-led nonprofits participating in #GiveNative. Click here for more information.
Invisible No More Book: Curated by our friends at First Nations Development Institute and Nonprofit Quarterly, Invisible No More: Voices from Native America is a collection of stories by Native American leaders who are leading the way through cultural grounding and nation-building in community development, environmental justice, and economic justice. I was honored to be asked to contribute the afterward to this important book. Order yours today!
Native Ways Federation hopes you will join in celebrating and supporting Native nations, nonprofits, businesses, and people this November during National American Indian Heritage Month and every month moving forward.
Wopida tanka eciciyapi (with immense gratitude to you all),
Carly Bad Heart Bull
(Flandreau Santee Dakota/ Mvskoke Creek)
Native Ways Federation