Reflections on Indigenous Peoples’ Day: We Are The Dreams of Our Ancestors… What Future Are We Dreaming Into Reality?

‘La Madre Mariposa’ an original artwork by Laura R. Morris, 2021.

Today is Indigenous People’s Day in the lands now known as the United States. I wish to express Gratitude to my Indigenous relatives. I recognize that my (mostly) European ancestors would have died had they not been shown mercy. Because of those first acts of kindness, I exist here. Anyone who is a descendant of Los Conquistadores, and/or the ‘founding fathers’ of the ‘13 original colonies’ wouldn’t exist. Even our Constitution largely borrows from the governance of the Eastern Woodland Tribal nations. The United States government and citizenry owe so much to our Indigenous allies, yet our government has left behind a Trail of Broken Treaties in its destructive wake as Colonialism, Capitalism, and Centralized Banking have taken root.

In the first few months during the Pandemic, I decided to learn more about the tribal nations located closest to me. I have learned that I live in the Dawnland, and that my neighbors, the Passamaquoddy and the Penobscot in the Wabanaki Confederacy, have continuously cared for these lands for at least 10,000 years. I learned that 400 years ago in 1621, my English ancestors on the Mayflower met Samoset, a Wabanaki diplomat who was the first Indigenous person to make contact with the ship. This really intrigued me because for the last 8 generations my family has lived in Texas. It makes me wonder if it was really random chance that I have returned back to the Dawnland now 14 generations later…

I recently listened to an interview with the now Secretary of the Interior, the Honorable Deb Haaland, who in a 2020 video interview said that, “I am the person that my Grandparents dreamed of,” as she recollected her family’s history surviving the genocidal practices of the United States, the Boarding School era, her mother’s military service, and her personal journey to being elected into Congress. Please listen to her interviews if you get the time. She is an amazing person.

Her statement resonated with me. It made me think about my grandparents and who their grandparents were. Through a combination of genetic testing, Ancestry.com, and old family bibles, I found out that if all my grandparents and their ancestors got together in one room, they would look like a UN assembly and would represent 5 continents. If they could speak to me, what would they say?

I am a child of Colonization, but I am learning to live a better way. Please forgive me for supporting a harmful system. I didn’t understand that there could be another way. I have learned that the version of history I was taught in school is a whitewashed fable of America. We desperately need the perspectives of those born outside the system in we ever wish to escape the abusive cycles of Colonization that are destroying our world. We must acknowledge our failures if we are to live up to the idea that “All (People) are created equal” and we must make sure their voices are heard if we wish to live in a real Democracy.

The more perspectives we hear, the more dimensions of history can be studied. We aren’t getting the whole story if we only listen to the European American sources. This is called Critical Race Theory, or CRT, by some, but I just call it good research.

Here are some of the resources that are helping me learn along the way (in no particular order):

1. ‘1491’ a documentary series by Aarow Productions, Inc. (2018) about the Americas pre-Columbian contact. https://vimeo.com/292727873

2. Native Roots Radio ‘I’m Awake’ radio show with Robert and Wendy Pilot https://www.nativerootsradio.com/

3. ‘Cut To The Chase’ podcast with Chase Iron Eyes https://anchor.fm/cut-to-the-chase

4. ‘This Land’ Podcast with Rebecca Nagle and Crooked Media. https://crooked.com/podcast-series/this-land/

5. ‘Sacred Instructions’ by Sherri L Mitchell (2018) https://sacredinstructions.life/books

I hope these resources can help add a little more perspective to Indigenous People’s Day and please share to continue lifting up their voices and perspectives.

References:

Aarow Productions, Inc. (2018). 1491- The Untold Story Of The Americas Before Columbus. Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/292727873

Burnham, E. (2021, March 16). 400 years ago today, a Wabanaki man was 1st Indigenous person to meet Mayflower settlers. Bangor Daily News. https://bangordailynews.com/2021/03/16/news/bangor/400-years-ago-today-a-wabanaki-man-was-1st-indigenous-person-to-meet-mayflower-settlers/

Iron Eyes, C. (2021). Cut To The Chase (Podcast). Anchor.fm. https://anchor.fm/cut-to-the-chase

Haaland, D. (2020, September 19). Meet Deb Haaland, the Indigenous Woman Who Might Be the Next Secretary of the Interior. The Sunrise Movement. Youtube. https://youtu.be/g5COU76BvGs

Mitchell, S. L. (2018). Sacred Instructions. North Atlantic Books: Berkley, California.

Pilot, R & Pilot, W. (2021). Native Roots Radio. https://www.nativerootsradio.com/

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