On the fourth Thursday of November, each year, the United States of America celebrates Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the day our country recognizes as the time to gather around our families, rejoice in life, and feast for the nourishment of our bodies. Like many things in this country, Thanksgiving has been white-washed, stripped of its original history, and refurbished as just another holiday for Americans to sit around, get drunk and kick it. Nothing wrong with having a good time but let’s do better by all Americans by acknowledging those who are often, if not completely, looked over on this day.
Instead of me giving you a Thanksgiving for Dummies regurgitated breakdown of Thanksgiving’s origin, here are some Native American and/or Indigenous organizations you can donate to this holiday season, and just in general, to give back to the original people of this land.
According to PureWow’s Dara Katz, NARF works toward making sure “Native Americans rights, resource and lifeways are intact and protected. 2. Promises made to Native peoples are upheld. 3. Tribes are able to exercise their sovereign right to manage their own affairs.” NARF’s five priorities are preserving tribal existence, protecting natural resources, promoting Native American human rights, holding governments responsible to Native Americans, and developing Native American law, and educating the public about Native American rights, laws, and issues.
This organization is an emergency response fund “designed to distribute funds efficiently and swiftly to Native nonprofit organizations and tribal programs that need it most. Initially, funds are being prioritized in high-concentration areas—California, New Mexico, the Pacific Northwest, New York, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, and COVID-19 hotspots.” FirstNations.org reports that 13 percent of Native American homes “lack safe drinking water and proper wastewater disposal, creating conditions in which recommended sanitary standards cannot be maintained.” In addition, “16 percent of homes in tribal areas are overcrowded and multigenerational, making social distancing impossible.”
NWI’s mission is to “promote the well-being of Native people through programs and training that embrace the teachings and traditions of our ancestors.” The organization also provides a wide range of services and training including developing healthy relationships, ancestral teachings, therapy for emotional and physical trauma, and more.
The organization “serves and empowers Native journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Native cultures.” The website goes on to say that NAJA “recognizes Native Americans as distinct peoples based on tradition and culture. In this spirit, NAJA educates and unifies its membership through journalism programs that promote diversity and defends challenges to free press, speech, and expression. NAJA is committed to increasing the representation of Native journalists in mainstream media. NAJA encourages both mainstream and tribal media to attain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and responsibility.”
The Redhawk Native American Art Council is a non-profit founded by and managed by Native American artists and educators who seek to educate the world about Native American heritage through music, dance, fine arts, and other cultural traditions. The organization has festivals and workshops that support artists within the First Nations community. “Redhawk Council produces four of the largest Native American heritage celebrations in the Northeast. The arts council also hosts festivals, workshops, theater presentations, and educational programs, addressing stereotypes and fostering an awareness of Native cultures from a historical standpoint, with a focus on contemporary cultural practices.”