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November 2023: Indigenous Visibility

Happy November! We are grateful for the candor and openness people brought to the October gatherings. We hope that the conversations we had have inspired you to have more conversations about race, racism and white supremacy within your sphere of influence.  

One of the things that came up a lot in the conversations about barriers to talking about race was the feeling of not have enough knowledge to challenge more subtle forms of racism. As one member shared: 

“I get so intimidated when members of my family push back with questions that start with, ‘What about …?’ or “Did you know that …?” It makes me feel like I don’t know enough to say anything, even though I know racism is wrong and what they are saying is often couched in racist beliefs/stereotypes. I feel like I’ll never read enough books or watch enough documentaries to be able to engage with them effectively.” 

We appreciate this reflection, especially because it reminds us of one of the commitments we make as members of CWC to continually educate ourselves. To honor that commitment and to recognize Native American Heritage Month and Veterans Day, we thought we would bring visibility to the indigenous Code Talkers who impacted the outcomes of both World War I and II.  

To inspire this learning and reflection, we will look at the first 2:19 minutes of this video, which features Navajo Code Talker Peter MacDonald Sr. We will also reflect on these facts as reported by the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services’ Administration for Native Americans:

  • According to a 2017 survey, there are 141,494 American Indian and Alaska Native veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

  • Native Americans have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since the American Revolution and Native women continue to serve at one of the highest per capita rates in the country (11.7% vs. 8.4%, respectively).

  • American Indian and Alaska Native Veteran cohort served in the Pre-9/11 period of service in a higher percentage than Veterans of other races (19.9% vs. 13.3%, respectively)?

Here are some questions to help inspire some reflection on the video:

  1. What stood out to you after watching the video?

  2. How does this short video and additional facts add to or challenge your understanding of Native American contributions to the U.S. military? 

  3. What questions are you left with after watching the video and reading the additional facts?

  4. How do/can you amplify the story of Native American veterans as part of your anti-racism practice?

We look forward to continuing to educate ourselves with you this month. As always, if this prompt doesn’t inspire you, come to a gathering anyway and share whatever is on your mind and heart.

P.S. Last November, we focused our conversations on the #landback movement. Read about this recent win for the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota.  

“When you see a new trail, or a footprint you do not know, follow it to the point of knowing.” - Uncheedah, grandmother of Ohiyesa, Dakota


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