Know Us and Celebrate Us
We want you to know us – our historical truths, our beautiful cultures and artistry, and how we live and celebrate them today.
Kenwa, Pit River Tribe
Unlike the United States welfare system, which provides resources based on need, treaty rights are what Native tribes were meant to receive in exchange for what our ancestors gave to the United States, most often our land. Unfortunately, broken treaty promises between the United States and Native tribes have undermined our ability to be the truly sovereign nations we should be and added to the misperceptions many people have about Native people. Addressing these broken promises is going to be challenging because now there is so much ingrained in federal policy and laws that negatively impact our tribal nations. But I do think that we are smart people and with our traditional knowledge and western education these issues can be addressed.
Tori, Yurok Tribe
Still to this day the US government keeps us from having the true sovereignty we fight for. We have had to try to completely rebuild our world, but with the control they still have over our resources, our land, and our water, they keep us from being able to. The management of the dams the US government created has caused a host of ecological problems, the most striking of which is the 90% decline in the endemic salmon population. The government continues to exploit the lifeblood of our culture – the river – and deny us the sovereignty we need to care for its health. So as of today, the biggest barrier to our sovereignty is still having the US government maintain ownership of the river. But by our wisdom, they can’t own it, no one can. The river is its own being.
Amanda, Rosebud Sioux Tribe
As First Nations people, our cultures are so beautiful, but many do not get to experience them or see them. So Native American Heritage Month is a celebration of who we are and a reminder to the world that we are not what you have read in your school textbooks. Non-Native people can celebrate traditional lodging, arts and crafts, games, foods, activities, and learn about our way of understanding. You can become educated about the lands you live on so that we can protect what we have before it is gone. One of our greatest strengths as Native peoples is REZ-ilience and the sense of being a family. We understand connectivity and respect how we are related as people who share breath. This is a month to celebrate all of that together. With a warm handshake, we need to reach out to each other.
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A Conversation With Our Students
Get to know some of the students whose lives you are changing.
We understand our challenges and know what is needed to address them. We are the generation that will fuse western knowledge and tools with our cultural traditions and practices to build stronger, healthier, safer communities. We will also resolve the disconnect between tribal communities and the US government and re-establish our independence and sovereignty. We will use our knowledge to protect and manage our natural resources to create sufficient food, water and housing for our communities. We are pursuing degrees that will empower us to strengthen economic development and financial security. We will also lead the way in strengthening and updating our educational and healthcare systems. We will be less vulnerable as people and communities in the face of health crises and natural disasters.