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Happy Indigenous People's Day

On October 12, 1492, America experienced its very first hate crime.

Over 60,000,000 Indigenous people were killed after ChRisToPheR cOluMbUs "discovered" America, resulting in grand theft, mass genocide, racism, initiating a destruction of a culture, rape, torture, and maiming of Indigenous people. You can't "discover" a land that's already inhabited. The fact that today is still a Federal Holiday for a murderer shows you the erasure of history America practices when it comes to People of Color.

So, what will we do today? Celebrate the people and the land we are all guest on. Let's start off by shouting out how some of the mainstream media are no longer afraid to point out the obvious. Take the hit TV show, The Good Place, for instance:

We have more and more TV shows as well as activist making sure we make these important points known, and we just heard that the DC Council voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day. If this goes through, this change would only last a year, though. While we're making positive strides to a better future, we have a long way to go. So, in the meantime, we plan to highlight the people and the culture.

First up, literature. If you want to break cycles of colonization and assimilation, you must take the time to learn from Indigenous experiences, through our own words.

1). Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate)

In Native American DNA, Kim TallBear shows how DNA testing is a powerful—and problematic—scientific process that is useful in determining close biological relatives. But tribal membership is a legal category that has developed in dependence on certain social understandings and historical contexts, a set of concepts that entangles genetic information in a web of family relations, reservation histories, tribal rules, and government regulations. At a larger level, TallBear asserts, the “markers” that are identified and applied to specific groups such as Native American tribes bear the imprints of the cultural, racial, ethnic, national, and even tribal misinterpretations of the humans who study them.

2). Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Cherokee Nation)

Part survey of the field of Indigenous literary studies, part cultural history, and part literary polemic, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter asserts the vital significance of literary expression to the political, creative, and intellectual efforts of Indigenous peoples today. In considering the connections between literature and lived experience, this book contemplates four key questions at the heart of Indigenous kinship traditions: How do we learn to be human? How do we become good relatives? How do we become good ancestors? How do we learn to live together?

3). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (Potawatomi Citizen Band)

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

4). Whereas: Poems

WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation―and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.

North American Native-Owned Brands & Artisans

1). Beyond Buckskin Boutique:

Beyond Buckskin empowers Native American artists and designers, advancing the quality of Native American fashion through education while providing an in depth podium for societal participation. Inspired by relevant historical and contemporary Native American clothing design and art, Beyond Buckskin promotes cultural appreciation, social relationships, authenticity and creativity.

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2). SheNative:

SheNative exists to instill inner strength and unwavering confidence in all women, using teachings that come from Indigenous Nationhood. From our perspective, Nationhood is knowing who you are and where you come from. Indigenous women face systemic barriers and challenges, often encountering victimization, sexualization and racial profiling. We believe that everyone has the inner strength needed to overcome barriers. Everyone can live a full, meaningful and abundant life.

- Employing Indigenous women in the design and manufacturing of our goods.

- Involving Indigenous communities and customers in our design process.

-Sharing the experiences and perspectives of local, national and international Indigenous female change-makers.

- Giving at least 10% of profits toward causes that positively impact the lives of Indigenous women.

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3). Bedré Fine Chocolate

Native Americans have seen chocolate as a gift to the world since the 1500s, when the Olmecs and Toltecs introduced Europeans to a newfound delicacy. Today, Bedré and the Chickasaw Nation continue the legacy with expertly crafted Native American chocolate and natural, unique ingredients that pay tribute to our past. As the only Native American tribe to create its own brand of fine chocolates, we take great pride in our products and instill cultural passion into everything we do.

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4). B. Yellowtail

Founded in December 2014 and based in Los Angeles, B. Yellowtail is a fashion line created by designer Bethany Yellowtail, who’s vision and brand values reflect her Apsaalooke (Crow) & Tsetsehestahese & So’taeo’o (Northern Cheyenne) Native American heritage. A celebration of ancestral tradition, beauty, and culture, B. YELLOWTAIL embraces authentic, indigenous design through wearable art.

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5). Michelle Brown Wear

Always relying on her Native American heritage to inspire and influence her design process, Michelle's designs reflect a rich narrative of reaching from the past, and pulling into the present or what she calls, "Living In-Between".

Living in-between these two worlds, that of her ancestors, and of one that ventures into the metropolitan savvy dweller, has been an obsession that manifests in her accessories. The beauty of craft and handwork can be seen in each unique piece. 

As a Navajo woman in design, it is her passion to support and represent indigenous artists and champion the future of Native peoples and their rich cultural heritage. Michelle is currently based in Salt Lake City Utah.

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