Weekly Resistance: 5 Ways to Support Native Americans Over Thanksgiving

While many people in the U.S. are celebrating Thanksgiving this week, some Native communities will observe a Day of Mourning, commemorating the colonization of North America — and the tremendous harm inflicted upon indigenous communities. No matter your feelings on the holiday, this is a good week to take action in solidarity, so we’ve rounded up some suggestions for you.

1. Be respectful at the dinner table

Politics often comes up around Thanksgiving tables, and family gatherings can become a breeding ground for casual racism. Speaking out against offensive stereotypes and slurs can have a profound impact on how friends and family think and act in the future — even if it feels scary initially.

Know:

Contact: If you think your family table might be a little fraught, reach out to allies in advance and talk about a game plan for handling unacceptable remarks. Rallying together will help you stay strong!

Act: Know that person-to-person interactions are sometimes the best way to fight bigotry, because they allow you to connect on an individual level. Stay nonconfrontational and polite — “I don’t think they use that word anymore, grandpa” or “Hm, that sounds kinda racist to me” — and don’t be afraid to say “hey, I’d like to talk with you about this at more length later” to defuse a tense situation when it feels like someone’s not listening to you.

2. Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Republican tax bill includes a number of poison pills, and one of them is a measure that would allow the government to lease out some parts of ANWR for oil drilling. Take a moment between pies and potatoes to speak out!

Know:

Contact: This is a Senate bill, so you need to contact your senators and tell them that you want to see drilling in ANWR taken off the table. Rather than searching for new sources of oil, we should be promoting alternative fuels and encouraging innovation in technology.

Act: Consider signing the following Care2 petitions:

3. Stand Strong Against Keystone XL

5,000 barrels of oil spilled from the Keystone XL pipeline in South Dakota last week, just days before Nebraska regulators are set to make a critical decision on the pipeline route in their state. This spill comes as no surprise to Native communities, who have led the fight to oppose oil pipelines across the U.S.

Know:

  • This spill is tied for the “largest spill of 2017″ status, a pretty dubious achievement.
  • The Obama administration actually rejected this project, but the Trump Administration reversed that decision.
  • TransCanada claims the spill didn’t affect water or local communities.

Contact: your senators and representative. Tell them you want an investigation into this leak, as well as a tougher regulatory process at the agency responsible for overseeing pipeline safety. They can pass legislation to empower these agencies to act, regardless of the will of the administration. You can also keep an eye on Regulations.gov for upcoming announcements about rules and regulations open for public comment.

Act: Consider signing the following Care2 petitions:

4. Divest and Reinvest

Divestment is a tried and true activist technique: Pull your money out of investments associated with social harm, and consider reinvesting in opportunities for social good. Maybe you think the contents of your bank account won’t make a difference, but imagine if everyone you know followed suit.

Know:

  • You can pull your money out of banks, mutual funds and other financial vehicles that invest in the Dakota Access Pipeline and other activities that harm Native communities.
  • The fossil fuel divestment movement is a worldwide phenomenon, and supporting Native communities is an important piece of it.
  • If you have investments in publicly traded companies, you’re entitled to look at their annual reports, which include a discussion of their revenue streams and provide information about their ethics policies.

Contact:

  • If you’re a member of a credit union, pension fund or other entity that makes investments with your money, attend board meetings, present proposals and participate in votes. Ask them to reinvest money locally and in ethically sound causes. After all, it’s the right thing to do — and can it yield better returns.
  • Friends and family: Ask them to consider joining you in reallocating their investments to local and sustainable financial entities.

Act: With gift-giving season coming up, consider investing your resources in local Native communities by purchasing goods from Native creators and learning a little more about their community in the process.

Consider signing these Care2 petitions:

5. Tell Washington’s Football Team to Change the Name Already

Washington’s football team is playing in the Thanksgiving Day game, which comes as a real slap in the face to Native communities.

Know:

Contact: the team’s majority owner, Dan Snyder, has been very outspoken about refusing to change the name. Maybe he needs a postcard from you, care of the team’s training facility: 21300 Redskin Park Drive, Ashburn, VA 20147

Take on a mini-challenge: Buying books for young people in your life? Consider checking out some Native-written titles like those discussed at American Indians in Children’s Literature, a website dedicated to assessing representation of Native communities in books for children and young adults.

Photo credit: Jeff Kubina

48 comments

Julie B
Julie B9 days ago

Such alot of useful information. We each have the Power within to bring the Power to fruition to our Native Americans. Prayers and Blessings go with you every day :) stand together and add to the people of strength to bring the good and fair changes we need and hold :) thankyou

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Mary B
Mary B18 days ago

Just don't talk about politics. Give it a rest. Talk about what you're THANKFUL for. Enjoy your food and abundance.

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Freya H
Freya H18 days ago

I agree, Washington's NFL franchise should change their name. However, it is not enough to call for a name change - how about some good suggestions for the new name? I have heard Soldiers, Griffins, Maroons, Firemen, even Americans (to go with Nationals, and why not?) suggested.

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Ellie M
Ellie M18 days ago

ty

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Marija M
Marija M18 days ago

Cruel J. I do like your comment, tks.

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One Heart i
One Heart inc18 days ago

Thanks!!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cABVKIPk_u0

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Winn A
Winn A19 days ago

I work with Native Americans and they refer to Thanksgiving as Happy Genocide Day. :-( They were here first you know.

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Loredana V
Loredana V19 days ago

There i nothing to celebrate, it was a massacre and it'll be a massacre (of Turkeys). People in US are immigrants unless they are native

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Leo C
Leo C19 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Christina S
Christina S19 days ago

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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