Take Action for Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month, an annual celebration of the diverse cultures, histories, and contributions of Indigenous peoples. It is an opportunity for education and for action:
- to decolonize the history many of us have been taught – to unlearn the sanitized story of the founding of the United States as a “New World” ideal, and learn about how it was built upon the displacement, dehumanization, and genocide of tribes that lived here for millennia before European settlers arrived
- to amplify calls for justice for Native American people, communities, and land
- and to fight against the erasure of Indigenous heritage and culture as an essential part of contemporary American life
This month, we are also observing the 51st National Day of Mourning, which takes place on the day recognized as Thanksgiving in the United States. In honor of Native American Heritage Month and the National Day of Mourning, and in support of ongoing Indigenous struggles, we are sharing some ways you can take action.
Here are some things that non-Indigenous folks can do to show solidarity with Native American people and communities:
Attend the 51st Annual Day of Mourning
Since 1970, the National Day of Mourning has been held on the fourth Thursday of November (recognized in the U.S. as Thanksgiving) near Plymouth Rock, where Europeans established their first colony in 1620. The event serves as a day of remembrance and mourning of “the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture.” It is also a call to action and opportunity to feel our collective strength to demand change and justice for Indigenous people across the world.
If you can’t be there in person, this year’s event will be live-streamed online.
Find out whose occupied ancestral land you live on
Enter your address on this map to find out what occupied land you live on. GLAD’s office is on occupied Massa-adchu-es-et (Massachusett) and Pawtucket land. The Massachusett tribe are the descendants of the original people that the European colonizers first encountered in what is now Massachusetts.
Relearn our history
As children (and adults!), most of us were taught about American history through the lens of colonizers; stories about the pilgrims who landed on American shores and built a new nation on its fertile land. But there is much, much more to the story. Take the time to unlearn the tropes, myths, and racist accounts we were taught, and envision a future that prioritizes redress and justice.
And why not treat Thanksgiving as a teachable moment? Here are some tools and readings to reflect on with your loved ones.
- Rethinking Thanksgiving Toolkit
- On Thanksgiving: Why Myths Matter
- Thanksgiving Promotes Whitewashed History, So I Organized Truthsgiving Instead
Donate to the United American Indians of New England
The United American Indians of New England (UAINE) is a Native-led organization working to fight racism and support Indigenous initiatives in New England and throughout the Americas. Donate to ensure their important work continues.
Learn about Two Spirit identities
Much of the anti-LGBTQ2+ sentiment that is now present in the United States was brought with European settlers. Many indigenous tribes recognize multiple gender and sexual identities as equal and even an essential part of communities.
- Two-Spirit People: Sex, Gender & Sexuality in Historic and Contemporary Native America
- Inqueery: Indigenous Identity and the Significance of the Term “Two-Spirit”
- Supporting Two-Spirit/Native American LGBT People
Organize your community to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day
Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes and celebrates the heritage of Native Americans, replacing Columbus Day, which glorifies a genocide and ongoing racism toward Indigenous peoples. Learn more about Indigenous Peoples Day and why it’s important for towns, cities, and states across the country to recognize the holiday.
Help pass the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda
Urge lawmakers to pass five key bills to recognize a statewide Indigenous Peoples Day, ban Native American mascots, redesign the state flag and seal, support Native education, and protect Native heritage in Massachusetts. Learn more and take action.
Send warm clothing to Standing Rock
Folks at Standing Rock and nearby ancestral lands are heading into a freezing winter, many without adequate winter clothing to keep them warm. Due to the pandemic, some are also having to camp as they quarantine. Donate clothes to help people stay warm this winter.
Contribute to the First Nations COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund
Donate to the First Nations Development Institute’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which distributes funds to Native nonprofit organizations and tribal programs that need it most.
Update your bookshelf
Read An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage by William Loren Katz, or Our History Is The Future by Nick Estes. There are plenty of great books to choose from. Find out whether your favorite BIPOC-owned bookstore has these books, or any others from First Nation’s reading list in stock
Share resources and keep going!
We invite you to send this page to your friends and share any additional resources you think should be added. It’s on all of us to continue working toward equity and justice.
by Alex Casarano, Public Education Intern