Indigenous people worldwide are fighting to maintain some vestige of pride in their indigenous knowledge and skills as ‘modern’ society sweeps away or misappropriates their history and achievements. Most societies are now living with a series of inward and outward migrations which change the cultural and social fabric of a country, often for the better as more people become aware of cultural practices that enhance the complex fabric of society, but sometimes for the worse as we ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and ignore, or even worse, denigrate ‘minority’ cultures, knowledge skills and practices. Our textbooks for example simplify , unconsciously forget and often ignore social, cultural and first nation groups and social media seem to provide an open space for narrow minded, prejudiced and racist commentators to run roughshod over the feelings of others.
It is necessary, for educators, to take a little time to remember that for sustainable development we need to educate ourselves on the achievements of indigenous peoples so as to learn how to manage the environment and build cultural complexity for the benefits of the next generation.
The information below is taken from Cultural Survival:
November is National Native American Heritage Month. November 23 is Native American Heritage Day.
“As the first people to live on the land we all cherish, American Indians and Alaska Natives have profoundly shaped our country’s character and our cultural heritage. Today, Native Americans are leaders in every aspect of our society — from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the battlefield. This month, we celebrate and honor the many ways American Indians and Alaska Natives have enriched our Nation, and we renew our commitment to respecting each tribe’s identity while ensuring equal opportunity to pursue the American dream.” — Presidential Proclamation
1. Challenge stereotypes and misappropriation of Native people’s cultures.
Recently Urban Outfitters, the Gap, Paul Frank, Victoria’s Secret, and No Doubt were educated about the dangers of misappropriations of Native people’s cultures. Read “A Much-Needed Primer on Cultural Appropriation” and start a discussion among your contacts in person and via social networks.
2. Learn about violence against Native women. Click here.
Learn what you can do to stop it by supporting Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011.
President Obama signed an Executive Order to expand educational opportunities for Native American students. It aims to preserve Native languages, cultures, and histories while offering a competitive education that prepares young people to succeed in college and careers. Learn about Native language revitalization efforts around the country, visit www.languagegathering.org.
4. Support Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination and tribal sovereignty.
Learn about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and share it widely.