I am very troubled by this weekend’s Columbus Day holiday. I have been out of the country the past few Octobers, so I have been able to avoid the feelings of shame and embarrassment I feel about living in a country that continues to dedicate a holiday to a man responsible for the enslavement, brutalization and genocide of native peoples—despite widespread knowledge that this was the case. I believe this is possible because, as a country, we invisibilize Native Americans. It’s easy to ignore or minimize the feelings and fates of people we seldom see or hear about.
In Australia, folks have created a way that everyone can show awareness and respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage and the ongoing relationship the traditional owners have with their land. My friends and colleagues are part of a movement that begins every meeting, event or gathering with an Acknowledgement of Country. At the start of the event someone stands up and says something along the lines of:
“I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on Aboriginal land and recognise the strength, resilience and capacity of Aboriginal people on this land. I would like to show my respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and the elders past and present.”
Ready to start a movement?
How about starting your event in the USA with “I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on Native American land and I wish to recognize the strength, resilience and capacity of Native American people on this land. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, and show my respect to the elders past and present.”
Want more information and inspiration about Acknowledgment of Country?http://www.creativespirits.info/…/welcome-to-country-acknow…
Want to get more involved? 8 American cities have abolished Columbus Day and replaced it with Indigenous People’s Day. Your city or town could be next. Visit your next city or town council meeting and propose the change.http://usuncut.com/…/these-8-cities-just-abolished-columbu…/
Any suggestions, improvements or other ideas? Just comment below. I am hoping that we can come up with some solid practical pro-active approaches to offer people not only on Columbus Day, but also on Thanksgiving Day (which Native Americans refer to as The Day of Mourning.) Right now I'm trying to find a reputable charity that works to prevent Native American Teen Suicide. I'm also interested in Native-run substance abuse programs, especially those grounded in Native spirituality. I'm hoping to compile a list so that on "holidays" such as these we can give people something concrete to support. For example, giving the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner to a fund that supports queer Native youth.