Into The Light: Addressing Indigenous Issues Today

Written by Incoming Executive Director, Dakota Hall

It is that time of year again where the old false narrative of Pilgrims and Indigenous peoples coming together in harmony deeply roots itself into the American psyche – Thanksgiving. We can not, and must not, continue rewriting history.

From textbooks to school theater productions, the blatant lie told to our children of the romanticized relationship between Indigenous peoples and Pilgrims is the bedrock of the erasure and discrimination of Indigenous peoples in this country. Now more than ever, we must tell the truth about our past and address all that Indigenous peoples are facing today. 

For far too long, Indigenous peoples’ systematic and institutionalized discrimination has existed with little to no mainstream attention. We must shed light on the immense challenges Indigenous communities face from the climate crisis and ongoing global pandemic to the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. And the remnants of centuries-long abuse and neglect by the federal government still exist across Indigenous reservations today  – lack of infrastructure, access to clean drinking water, investment in schools and healthcare, and more. These struggles are due to the federal government failing to honor treaties and provide Indigenous communities with resources and basic necessities to live. 

Thanksgiving is not the only holiday that attempts to rewrite American history. Many holidays, including Columbus Day and Independence Day, are rooted in the genocide, oppression, and erasure of Indigenous people. Not confronting our past contributes to systematic and institutionalized racial abuse as well as societal discrimination seen in the racist team mascots and school plays with white and non-Indigenous who “play Indian” while often mocking sacred dances, clothing, and ceremonies. 

While millions come together to celebrate Thanksgiving, many Indigenous folks wonder what exactly we can be thankful for when our communities face so much. In 2020, our country had a so-called racial reckoning after the civil unrest, protests, and uprisings due to the police murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others. However, when confronted with opportunities to make a systemic change or to right the wrongs from centuries past, white America balks time and time again. 

Join me in taking action and supporting Indigenous-led organizations that center the voices and issues impacting Indigenous communities every day. We must not forget the past sins of disease, warfare, and massacres while we fight for Indigenous peoples to survive today and thrive in the future. 

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