The second Monday of October is a holiday worth celebrating in the United States, Indigenous Peoples Day. We want to highlight the importance of Indigenous values that are shared with us, that have taught us the power of reciprocity, and recognize the inherent destruction that colonization has caused in indigenous communities worldwide. Yes, this is an American holiday, but we can be prompted by this holiday to recognize, celebrate and understand the history of indigenous cultures in our own communities both local and global. The most important give we can do is to listen to the stories that have been removed from, or not included in, so many history books past and present worldwide.
It is first and foremost important to understand what indigenous stands for. According to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Indigenous communities are understand using the following information:
It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific, they are the descendants – according to a common definition – of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived.
There are many online and library resources that will explain the unaccounted for history of our own countries and how it relates to our indigenous communities. So many of these accounts have been erased in main stream history, to the detriment of our understanding of how history actually played out. This unfortunate failure to disclose what actually has happened to many cultures, peoples, communities is an atrocity, and it is our responsibility to seek out the information that includes all perspectives of our history. Coursera has an interesting course on Canadian Indigenous History that is worth checking out. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has a series of books that are an essential resource providing historical threads that are crucial for understanding the present in the United States and indigenous peoples. Ethelia Ruiz Medrano is a Mexican author who has written rich and detailed accounts of indigenous history in central and southern Mexico from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries.
Change.org is one of our go to online petition sites to support causes, people and ideas that are important. For Indigenous peoples, causes related to Environmental Conservation, Economic Prosperity, Social Empowerment and Cultural vitality are important themes that recognize their inherent value to our global and individual communities.
Local museums, Cultural museums, and art galleries house the unique artwork of local indigenous artists. Art is a great way to gain a further understanding of a culture, a point of view, an experience shared by artisans. Artwork also leads to discussions not only with the artist but with friends and families who share in the experience with you. Art could be spoken word, music, visual arts, sculpture, hand crafts, writing and folk art.
Listen to the stories being told by indigenous peoples. Their account of their history, their art forms, current political agendas, cultural appreciation, and environmental concerns will expand your understanding of cultures. We have discussed the importance of listening as a give to others, and this is no different from our previous emphasis on the importance of listening.
TikTok has become a great platform to learn about the history and contemporary issues faced by indigenous cultures around the world. It also lets us witness cultural celebrations in real time. Find some online influencers that share their understanding of the world and learn more about other cultures that could expand your understanding and challenge your views.
Do you have a give that you wish to share with our readers that will celebrate an indigenous community in your country or community? Post your comments on Facebook, or tweet your thoughts using the #365give #giveeveryday hashtags so we can share your giving ideas.