Honoring Indigenous People during Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. This November, Balanced You gives thanks to Indigenous communities. We honor the wisdom and culture of Indigenous people, we mourn the colonization of their land, and we celebrate the Indigenous people who continue to reside on their ancestral homeland.

While the tradition of Thanksgiving has been rooted in colonization, there are steps you can take toward decolonizing the holiday. Balanced You invites King County employees to honor and give thanks to Indigenous People during Thanksgiving, Native American Heritage Month, and year-round. Tips and resources can be found below.

Develop a land acknowledgement ritual

Include a land acknowledgement in your pre-meal ritual. According to the Duwamish tribe, “land acknowledgement is a traditional custom dating back centuries for many Native communities and nations. For non-Indigenous communities, land acknowledgement is a powerful way of showing respect and honoring the Indigenous Peoples of the land on which we work and live.”

You and your loved ones can work together to design a land acknowledgement that feels genuine to you. Here is a sample from the Duwamish tribe:

I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People past and present and honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe.”

The Duwamish Tribe is one of the tribes that lives in King County. If you’re unsure what native land you live on, visit this website to find out.

Read Native American authors

Decolonize your reading list by incorporating Native American authors into your repertoire. The Seattle Library has several curated lists available on their website. Click here for their list of recommended fiction books by Native American authors , or click here for the Seattle Library’s 2020 Native American Heritage Month display.

Donate to Native American nonprofits

If you will be making purchases during this holiday season, consider a donation to a Native American nonprofit. Seattle Urban Natives Non-profit is a collective of Native-led organizations through King County that works to build collective power through dialogue, education, action, and advocacy. Participating groups are listed below.

  • Chief Seattle Club is a native-led human services agency and day center in Seattle.
  • Duwamish Tribal Services is the organization of Duwamish tribal members. Services for members include a food assistance program, cultural events, and Native health and wellness care.
  • Indigenous Showcase (Longhouse Media) catalyzes Indigenous people and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation, and social change.
  • Na’ah Illahee Fund is an Indigenous women-led organization dedicated to the regeneration of Indigenous communities.
  • National Urban Indian Family Coalition elevates a national voice and sustains indigenous values and culture through a strong network of urban Indian organizations.
  • Native Action Network is a non-profit organized to promote Native women’s full representation and leadership in local, state, tribal, and national affairs.
  • Native American Women’s Dialogue on Infant Mortality is a native-led collective whose members are concerned about high rates of infant mortality among the American Indian/Alaska Native population.
  • Northwest Justice Project – Native American Unit aims to address the unique legal needs of Native American communities statewide.
  • Potlatch Fund is a Native-led non-profit that provides grants and leadership development to Tribal Nations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada.
  • Red Eagle Soaring is a Seattle non-profit organization serving at-risk Native youth through traditional and contemporary performance art.
  • Seattle Indian Health Board is a community health center that provides health and human services to its patients while specializing in the care of Native people. SIHB is recognized as a leader in the promotion of health improvement for urban American Indians and Alaska Natives, locally and nationally.
  • United Indians of All Tribes Foundation provides educational, cultural, and social services that reconnect Indigenous people in the Puget Sound region to their heritage by strengthening their sense of belonging and significance as Native people.
  • Urban Native Education Alliance offers culturally responsive and relevant support to Native youth and families through social, cultural, and educational support services.

More information

For more information on Native American Heritage Month, please contact King County’s Native American Leadership Council.

To read King County’s 2020 Proclamation in honor of Native American Heritage Month, click here.

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