Indigenous Peoples Day balances celebration and recognition – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

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Photo by Allayana Darrow | Isa Martinez Moore is working on a mural project celebrating eight Indigenous people and people of color at Ashland High School on Tuesday, October 12. The mural pays homage to Agnes Baker Pilgrim, known as Grandmother Aggie, an Indigenous spiritual leader of the Takelma and Siletz tribes, and Winona LaDuke, an AHS alumnus, Indigenous environmentalist, economist, activist and registered author to the Ojibwe Nation of Minnesota.

Jasi Swick, a Lakota with more than 70 family members who survived or died in residential schools, discovered at the age of 36 that her mother had survived a year in a residential facility as a child – highlighting for Swick the wide impact of systematic forced violence assimilation on generations of Native Americans.

“It was revealed to me that my own mother attended residential school. It wasn’t something we shared, like many Indigenous families and homes, just to deal with the trauma, ”Swick said. “His upbringing is the reason laws are now in place to protect my children, and I carry that with me and have taught that to my children.”

Swick hosted a residential school community healing webinar on October 8 with residential school survivors, descendants and educators as part of the Southern Oregon University Residential School Healing Project.

Swick’s mother, Cheryl Miller Swick Hernandez, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, was raised on the Standing Rock reservation before she and her sister were sent to a Catholic boarding school in their first or second year.

“It was a very, very bad experience,” said Miller Swick Hernandez. “At the beginning, when the parents took us there, I was not afraid because I had my sister. But when we got there, they took her away.

She had never shared this painful experience with anyone before, including her children, she shared during the webinar, releasing tears with a story she had kept to herself for decades.

“It was really hard to be away from the family and be placed in a place where you weren’t allowed to speak your language,” she said. “They cut our hair because they thought we were dirty – because we were ‘dirty little Indians’, that’s what they called us. They would take these lice combs and rip them through our hair, and then they would make us say all these prayers that many of us didn’t understand because we weren’t raised that way.

Miller Swick Hernandez said her life on the reserve with her grandparents was full of laughs and games – despite the poverty, everyone around her shared similar circumstances.

“We were not sad children until we were taken to residential school,” she said.

In June, Home Secretary Deb Haaland released a memo recognizing the lasting impact of boarding schools on generations of Native American families and the need for a detailed investigation into more than 140 years of federal policies aimed at erasing identity culture of indigenous peoples. .

“The recent discovery of 215 anonymous graves by Canada’s Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation at Kamloops Indian Residential School should prompt us to reflect on past federal policies aimed at culturally assimilating Indigenous peoples in the United States,” the memo said.

The United States promulgated laws and policies establishing and supporting Indian Residential Schools from 1819, when the Indian Civilization Act was enacted, until the 1960s.

“During this period, the purpose of residential schools was to culturally assimilate Indigenous children by forcibly removing them from their families and communities to remote residential settlements,” where their mother tongues and beliefs were suppressed, according to the memo.

Many students suffered repeated injuries and abuse, and some of those who died were buried in unmarked graves. The Home Office has pledged to undertake an investigation into the overall loss of life and lasting consequences of the Indian boarding school program, and to identify the burial sites of the students – to be submitted as a written report by by April 1, 2022.

“During the program, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their homes and placed in federal residential schools across the country. Many of those who survived the ordeal returned home have changed in unimaginable ways, and their experiences still resonate across generations, ”the memo reads.

Monday marked the first official recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day after Oregon passed Bill 2526, which established the second Monday in October as a day recognizing “that the indigenous peoples of this land have created. self-sufficient, prosperous and prosperous communities for thousands of people. years before the arrival of European settlers, ”according to a press release from the Oregon House Majority Office.

The holiday combines the celebration of the indigenous peoples who shape the past and present of the state with the recognition of “the true and painful story of hundreds of years of colonial violence which brought disease, war, genocide and forced assimilation” , indicates the press release.

Mayor Julie Akins proclaimed October 11 Indigenous Peoples Day for the city of Ashland at the October 5 city council meeting.

Ashland City Council approved a resolution in 2017 dedicating the second Monday in October to the holiday “as an opportunity for the community to reflect on the ongoing struggles of the indigenous peoples of this land, to celebrate cultures and values of the indigenous peoples of our region and to stand in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of the world.

The proclamation recognizes that Ashland was built on the homelands of the Takelma, Shasta and Klamath Basin peoples.

For Belinda Brown, Indigenous Peoples Day honors the ecological knowledge indigenous peoples have accumulated since time immemorial, which has reappeared as essential to contemporary forest fire management.

Brown is a registered member of the Kosealekte Band of the Ajumawi-Atsuge Nation, also known as the Pit River Tribe. As the Tribal Partnership Director for the Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Brown focuses on coordination, outreach and engagement in intergovernmental affairs.

Current projects include a partnership with the Confederate Grand Ronde tribes treating 300 acres of their Noble Oaks reserve, the continued recovery of the Almeda fire, and a collaborative effort to secure a cultural, beneficial and traditional use designation to protect water and salmon from the Klamath River.

A 12-year stewardship agreement between Lomakatsi and the Klamath tribes “elevates” the tribal voice, provides vocational training and employment opportunities, and combines cutting-edge forestry with indigenous practices, Brown said.

A team of seven young people from the Klamath tribes spent five weeks last summer obtaining certifications in chainsaw operation, basic firefighting and cultural resource management while clearing, stacking and burning a section of the forest. National of Fremont-Winema. Four of the young people have fought fires this year, including two who fought the Bootleg fire, Brown said.

Brown revisited the site on August 17 – the Bootleg fire continued to burn, but the treated unit withstood the blaze, leaving aspens and old pines standing.

“It just shows that the land treatment out there is working, and we need to do more,” Brown said. “The fire was still going on August 17th, but it just meandered around doing what it’s supposed to do: burn all the undergrowth and undergrowth.”

“Everywhere we go, we just try to gently marry this indigenous knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge with western science, and try to bring tribes to the fore to bring us back to the ancient knowledge and wisdom that has kept our land longer. safe, away from debris, healthier and actually kept our people healthier, ”she said.

The multi-faceted cultural uses of the land, including harvesting animals, fishing, picking roots and weaving baskets, to name a few, are all related in some way or form. ‘one the natives are “mandated” to manage.

The new fire ecology of the 1960s spurred fire-fighting land management strategies contrary to indigenous knowledge.

“We have this commission to take care of our land and our water and speak out for those who have no voice,” she said. “It’s the fish and the wildlife and the generations to come, then in honor of the ancestors and the generations that came before us.”

For Brown, Indigenous Peoples Day also honors progress in recent years, such as the passage of Senate Bill 13 in 2017 which focused on tribal history and land recognition.

“What this means to me is that our employees have the ability to tell their own story [and] our people have the capacity to use their knowledge and not be ashamed of it, ”she said. “I believe that indigenous knowledge will be crucial for the next steps in the healing of our people. “

Indigenous communities are suffering from multigenerational trauma and loss of language, history and way of life – Indigenous Peoples Day “turns the story around,” she said, giving way to a new narrative that honors how indigenous peoples have cared for the Earth, strengthens the tribal voice, and recognizes symptoms of multigenerational trauma, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy and recidivism.

The holiday honors knowledge that offers enduring examples of how to eat, live, treat each other, consume resources, and strengthen communities, while shedding light on the truth that the United States are built on the blood and bones of indigenous people slaughtered for land and gold, Brown said.

“I truly believe that when our people are healed, and when our nations are healed and when our land is healed, it will spill over to visitors,” Brown said. “No matter what color or what costume you walk around, we all have to be responsible for what we do to Earth because Earth is our mother and we don’t treat her like she is our mother.”


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