In case you missed my segment on Alicia Menendez Tonight (which airs weeknights @7pm ET on the new Fusion network) you can watch it here…or tune in tonight @7:30pm ET. If you don’t have Fusion, you can watch the video HERE.
We’re more than half-way through November and for Native Americans like me, that means we’ve made it through Halloween–a holiday that makes Indigenous people groan at Pocahotties and Indian braves costumes. Once we get past the construction paper headdresses that Thanksgiving brings, there’s still just one more issue to tackle on the calendar: Washington’s NFL team, the Redskins.
Are you listening, Dan Snyder? Your Washington NFL team needs a name change.
Countless organizations and news outlets have come out in support of that change and have agreed to stop using your team’s name at all:
Mayor of Washington DC, Vincent Gray
The Oneida Indian Nation
Sports Illustrated’s site Monday Morning Quarter Back
Washington City Paper
The Kansas City Star
Native American Journalists Association
American Indian Movement
Washington, D.C. City Council
Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y.
…just to name a few!
But if TMZ’s got it right, Dan – never going to change the name – Snyder, you may be renaming your team the Washington Bravehearts, you’ve missed the point.
It’s November 1st and you know what that means…It’s the first day of Native American Heritage Month!
For festive ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, check out my previous post.
In honor of this month, my goal (besides doing well in grad school!) is to continue to speak out on behalf of my Tribe, the Chickahominy Tribe of Virginia. It is time for the federal government to recognize my people as a sovereign nation!
What are you planning to do to celebrate and honor Native American Heritage Month?
I love Halloween…but I don’t love racist Halloween costumes. And, sadly, it seems like the “go to” Halloween costume is often an “Indian Chief” or a scantily clad “Indian Princess.” When in doubt, wear something brown, cut some fringe, put a headband around your head and attach a feather. Now, you’re an Indian!…??!!
I thought I was the only one who felt sick to my stomach seeing someone dressed up in costume as an “Indian Chief” or “Muslim,” but to my surprise, I’m not! There is quite a bit of buzz online about racist Halloween costumes and how to avoid being racially/ethnically offensive, while still having fun.
As ClayCane.net explained,
I saw people dressed as Mexicans, Asians and sporting the ever popular Afro wig. Putting on an Afro wig or a sombrero is not a costume. Batman or Superman is a costume, being ethnic for a night isn’t—it’s offensive.
Please think critically when you pick your Halloween costume. Just because your friend who is Native American/Black/Asian/Latino/whatever is not offended, does not mean the costume is not offensive to others! Halloween is about fun…not disrespect.
November is National American Indian Heritage Month!
If you’ve never heard of American Indian Heritage Month or don’t know about the history of it, here’s some background, according to the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs:
What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.
One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.
The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.
American Indian Tribes
The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of N.Y. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.
So, what are you going to do to celebrate? Here are some ideas: (They may sound trite at first, but they are really festive and could be a lot of fun!)
1. Rent or buy a movie that is by/for/about Native Americans and watch it with your family or close friends. Here are some of my favorites: Smoke Signals, Skins, and Lakota Woman.
2. Use a recipe for traditional or modern Native American foods and have a pot luck dinner with friends. For example, beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, wild rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peanuts, avocados, papayas, and chocolate!
3. Take an online Native American trivia quiz. Then, tell your friends, family and co-workers to take it and see who scores higher.
4. Take a trip to a reservation near you or if you’re due for a vacation, consider visiting a reservation in another state.
As Native American Heritage Month 2009 comes to a close, take a look at the Presidential proclamation sent out via a press release in celebration of our country’s Indigenous peoples.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 30, 2009
NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, 2009
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The indigenous peoples of North America — the First Americans — have woven rich and diverse threads into the tapestry of our Nation’s heritage. Throughout their long history on this great land, they have faced moments of profound triumph and tragedy alike. During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.
This month, we celebrate the ancestry and time-honored traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives in North America. They have guided our land stewardship policies, added immeasurably to our cultural heritage, and demonstrated courage in the face of adversity. From the American Revolution to combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have fought valiantly in defense of our Nation as dedicated servicemen and women. Their native languages have also played a pivotal role on the battlefield. During World Wars I and II, Native American code talkers developed unbreakable codes to communicate military messages that saved countless lives. Native Americans have distinguished themselves as inventors, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and scholars. Our debt to our First Americans is immense, as is our responsibility to ensure their fair, equal treatment and honor the commitments we made to their forebears.
The Native American community today faces huge challenges that have been ignored by our Government for too long. To help address this disparity, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocates more than $3 billion to help these communities deal with their most pressing needs. In the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, my Administration has proposed over $17 billion for programs carried out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and other Federal agencies that have a critical role to play in improving the lives of Native Americans. These programs will increase educational opportunities, address the scourge of alcohol abuse and domestic violence, promote economic development, and provide access to comprehensive, accessible, and affordable health care. While funding increases do not make up for past deficiencies, they do reflect our determination to honor tribal sovereignty and ensure continued progress on reservations across America.
As we seek to build on and strengthen our nation-to-nation relationship, my Administration is committed to ensuring tribal communities have a meaningful voice in our national policy debates as we confront the challenges facing all Americans. We will continue this constructive dialogue at the White House Tribal Nations Conference held in Washington, D.C., this month. Native American voices have echoed through the mountains, valleys, and plains of our country for thousands of years, and it is now our time to listen.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2009 as National Native American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 27, 2009, as Native American Heritage Day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.