The conversation surrounding indigenous peoples in the U.S. peaks at two points in the year; Columbus Day and Thanksgiving.
At all other times, First Nations citizens are forgotten in the general public consciousness. In an attempt to combat this, November became National Native American Heritage Month.
Unfortunately, the president has decided to continue to undermine Indigenous peoples by declaring November as also “National American History and Founders Month.”
Native November vs. White History Month
Perhaps an attempt at creating something close to “White History Month” to satiate his base’s hunger for white representation in a too diverse America. Trump would use his inclusion of civil rights movement leaders as a rebuttal to claims of whitewashing the month, but if his history of anti-indigenous policies doesn’t convince you otherwise nothing will.
Trump has canceled funding for Native programs, greenlit projects that steal native land, and mocked the genocide of natives with his belittling of the massacre at wounded knee.
But this isn’t just a Trump thing. Those in power in the U.S. have attempted to violently erase Natives since the conception of the United States as a nation. Most of us know about the Trail of Tears, and more recently some of us know about the problem of appropriation of tribal culture.
In fact, the U.S. did not legalize practicing Native culture until 1978. It might seem like the issues of First Nation peoples is one of semantics and symbolism.
Violence against first nations is neverending
But, modern instances of indigenous erasure is still violent and dangerous. In the United States, Native American women are over twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic.
One in three Native women is sexually assaulted during her life. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 85 percent of these assaults are perpetrated by non-Natives. Because of loopholes in the legal system, rapists and serial killers can assault and murder Native peoples with impunity.
indigenous children were seperated by their families and being sent to schools to assimilate , they would cut their hair & r*pe the children or sell them.. A lot white people speak about having that one native ancestor that was basically a child that suffered during that time https://t.co/C9xuYxkzVv
— ✨мαѕнι✨ (@AshdiaBurgos) November 5, 2019
Recently in Arizona, school officials stopped a girls’ volleyball game due to racist chants from white spectators directed at the Native girls’ team. The Caurus Academy school faced no repercussions for the behavior of their supporters and the girls left the game in tears.
these girls are in literal tears, this is absolutely disgusting & horrific to watch! what’s worse is that the headline is deceiving, what it should say is:
Caurus Academy’s racist actions & behaviors stopped the game & no real discipline or repercussions were taken against them https://t.co/mhPfpYdjlf
— ig: @BeatByBenally (@BeatByBenally) October 27, 2019
The point is we tend to forget about Indigenous peoples in the U.S. far too often. It’s important to remember that Columbus was a genocidal imperial rapist. It’s important to recognize that Thanksgiving only took from Natives.
But it’s also important to advocate for Native lives every day. Support Indigenous artists, businesses and leaders. Keep your activism intersectional and remember most of us are on stolen land.