Back in June, we published a blog entitled “A Deeper Interrogation: Addressing Climate and Racial Justice in the ClimatePlan Network” where we recommitted to an even deeper personal, organizational, and network-wide interrogation of how we’re centering equity in all that we do and how we’re amplifying the community voices we most need to hear.
While we’re all aware of Thanksgiving this week and thinking through how to move through this holiday in a different, safer way this year, here at ClimatePlan, we’re also thinking about November as Native American Heritage Month and Friday, November 27th as Native American Heritage Day. This commitment to centering equity is certainly coming up for us this month as we begin to dive deeper into understanding the Native experience in our state and what equity in land use, housing, and transportation means to the Native community.
According to Native Hope, in 2009, President Barack Obama designated the Friday after Thanksgiving as “Native American Heritage Day” stating “I encourage every American to join me in observing Native American Heritage Day....It is also important for all of us to understand the rich culture, tradition, and history of Native Americans and their status today, and to appreciate the contributions that First Americans have made and will continue to make to our Nation.”
As we take the next few days to rest and relax with our families, we are committed, like Former President Obama suggested, to the journey of first learning, understanding, and appreciating the Native experience and history. We thought we’d share some of the actions we’re taking and what we’re reading, watching, and listening to, and we’d love to hear your ideas and recommendations as well.
- Research whose land you’re on. At Native Land, you can see the tribes, languages and treaties of the exact address you’re interested in. This website is just a starting off point to beginning to understand the history of the land you inhabit.
- Contribute resources to organizations that are working to rematriate Indigenous land. One example is the Sogorea Te' Land Trust based in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is “an urban Indigenous women-led land trust based in the San Francisco Bay Area that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people.”
- Learn about how the movement to decolonize food and return to regenerative agriculture is entirely interwoven with the Native experience. This Vice article entitled “How to Decolonize Your Thanksgiving Dinner” provides some question prompts to consider: Chef Nephi Craig says, “identify which foods are indigenous to the Americas. Then, identify which foods are indigenous to the region you live in. When talking about the Americas, think every single strain of corn, beans, squash, potatoes, chiles, chocolate, and all of these dishes that we fortunately can easily eat all the time.”
- Show respect for the Native land that you inhabit. Whether through setting a small intention for the land you inhabit to flourish or simply appreciating your natural surroundings, give gratitude for the land that you’re connected to.
- Kiss the Ground about the regenerative agriculture movement
N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear about the life of the Pulitzer-prize winning poet N. Scott Momaday
- Gather about the “growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.
- To Read:
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- This Land - A podcast that gives an “in-depth look at how a cut and dry murder case opened an investigation into half the land in Oklahoma and the treaty rights of five tribes. Follow along to find out what’s at stake, the Trump administration’s involvement, the larger right wing attack on tribal sovereignty and how one unique case resulted in the largest restoration of tribal land in US history.”
This list of actions and items for learning is truly just the beginning. There are so many other resources to learn from, most especially resources and public education opportunities directly from Native peoples. We look forward to this deep dive into understanding the experience of Native communities in order to effectively advocate, partner, and collaborate alongside them in our mission to bring about a more equitable, sustainable, and just California.