6 Ways to Honor Indigenous Peoples During Thanksgiving
November 2021 | By Cassandra Kiger, Affinity Mentoring and Sarah Brant, New Mexico Community Capital
At Affinity we are learning with you, and we work to sit at the feet of experts on different topics. This year, we wanted to learn more about the Thanksgiving holiday and season from a local Native expert and partner, Sarah Brant of the Anishinaabe Aki people, our local Community Outreach Coordinator for New Mexico Community Capital.
Sarah explained to us, “The fourth Thursday in November is also known as the National Day of Mourning, started in the 1970’s as American Indian Movements started raising awareness to critical issues happening in Native Country. We honor our ancestors and the struggles of Indigenous survival and revitalization of our identity. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest of the racism and oppression Indigenous people continue to experience.”
Sarah continued to explain that, “The Indigenous community does not look at this time as just a day, but a season (October: Binaakwe-Ggizis, or Falling Leaves Moon; November: Gashkadino-Giizis, or Freezing Over Moon). It allows us to practice who we are and make our offerings to those that have passed on. Harvest to Solstice season is a reflection time for our community. We sing our roundance songs, we tell our creation stories, and openly talk about who we are. We celebrate the abundance that the Spring and Summer have gifted us, from fruit to medicines we store and preserve then utilize throughout the winter months. We often offer these items on our spirit plates that our families foraged together.”
We acknowledge that learning new information isn’t always easy, but we see you do and learn new things every day when you participate in mentoring and support work in our community! We simply ask you to consider new possibilities in this season, and listen to new perspectives. Whether you identify as Native, you are already on a journey to understand and honor Native Peoples, or this is all very new to you, we would love to hear from you about how you plan to celebrate your Thanksgiving with the first celebration in mind.
Here are a few recommendations to get you started:
- Try out a new Indigenous recipe to add to your table.
- Support local, Indigenous business and try Native foods from Thirteen Moons Kitchen!
- Listen to Lyla June sing about our collective future when All Nations Rise.
- Lyla sings in both English and Spanish as Indigenous people come from all over the globe! (Did you know many of our Spanish speaking mentees and families, and even Affinity staff identify as Indigenous?)
- Take a minute to read about why the City of Grand Rapids and the State of Michigan have officially changed Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
- Take time with family to read Native stories by Native authors.
- If you aren’t already aware of the Indigenous People who first inhabited the land we live on today, you can use this amazing website to do some of your own research and learning.
- We acknowledge that our office sits on land of the Peoria and Odawa peoples, and that the Anishinaabek People of the Three Fires were the first inhabitants of this land. As a team we will be writing our own land acknowledgement.
- Encourage your organization to create your Land Acknowledgement Statement. Here are three great examples of Organizations and Universities that have written an appropriate Land Acknowledgment
- Learn about local Native/Indigenous programs and resources in Grand Rapids, such as Grand Rapids Public School district is teaching the next generation about our community’s Indigenous heritage through their Native American Education Program.
- Auntie’s House: An Urban Indian Community Organization with information about Birth Programs, Food Sovereignty, Community Wellness, and Language.
- Nizhomi Sol: Learn about Indigenous birthing practices and support.
- Connect with the local Anishnaabe Circle and follow them on Facebook for up to date information and events.
- TwoEagles Marcus is a Native Leader in our community. Follow him on LinkedIn and support his latest work highlighting Black, Indigenous and People of Color in the community at http://mpwrdx.com.
- Pawating Megedwin kikjiik – Native American Elders Program.
- Donate to support local Indigenous organizations in our area!
- New Mexico Community Capital (Where contributor Sarah works!)
Miigwetch to Sarah for sharing these amazing resources and learning opportunities with us!