I’ll get right to it.
We’ve got an election coming, the leaves have mostly fallen from the trees, COVID numbers are on the rise, and all of our homes are probably in constant disarray. I wish, in so many ways, the reality was different. But here we are, and here we are—together.
I’ve started this new series on Instagram called WHO IS AMERICA?— have you watched yet? I join conversation partners to ask how America has changed to them throughout their lives, and what comes out of these conversations is kindness, love, vulnerability, and truth-telling. I hope you’ll join us, because that space is one of the only ones giving me hope right now. We have to keep asking these questions, no matter who wins the election. Who are we?
We are in a reckoning in so many ways. Our humanity is being tested, our love is being stretched, our politics are being put on display, and we are exhausted.
And what we have to recognize here is that our bodies are always going to be part of this process, this reckoning and stretching. So what I offer is that we have to, in this time, be kind in our questions, curiosities and truth-telling. I’m book-marking this month’s newsletter with these reminders to take care of yourself and each other, because I believe it’s what we need most right now. We are so exhausted, burnt out, raw and worn thin as a people, as a world, and we need to acknowledge that.
I downloaded the Calm App last week, and listen, I don’t really like apps. But it’s helped me a lot. It’s helped me fall asleep more peacefully, it’s helped me calm down and breathe when I’m totally on edge. Basically, do you what you need to do to get through this moment, and then do what you need to do to keep getting through.
Do you need to see a therapist? Download that app? Watch a holiday film before the holidays are actually here? Get outside without your phone?
To know America’s story, we also have to know our own— it is always connected, so let’s understand our own stories, and then make sure we honor the stories of our neighbors, because we aren’t just voting for our own interests. We vote as community, as a people, and we need to be led as a people.
Don’t Miss This!
We still have the whole month of November for more conversations in my series WHO IS AMERICA? ! Make sure you follow me on Instagram, where all the conversations are live events that are posted to my account, so later you can catch them all if you miss them live!
On Monday, November 2nd, join me as I speak to Marcie Alvis-Walker, also known as blackcoffeewithwhitefriends on Instagram. Marcie is such a gift and fierce teacher, and I can’t wait to chat with her, especially as the election draws near.
Public Service Announcement: NOVEMBER IS EXHAUSTING
It’s not even November, and not only is it the election, it’s also Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving. I’ve shared in my book about this month being difficult for me, but here’s the problem: I’m already, in October, receiving messages in my inboxes, from people (mostly white women) asking for resources for their children, their classrooms, themselves.
Here’s the thing. I’m so glad change is coming! I’m so grateful that books by Indigenous authors are being bought. The thing is, we can’t teach you how to use them, and this is what I come to every November.
So, here’s what I won’t do:
I won’t speak for all Indigenous peoples.
I won’t answer your messages asking for free labor when I know you can google it.
I won’t feel bad about it.
But here’s what I will do. I will give you resources in this newsletter so you can have a few tools to find what you’re looking for.
So, here are 7 ways to approach Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving— a list of resources, guides, and things I love that can help educate and direct you (besides googling obviously which is usually helpful):
I get so many messages from parents who want to know what books to buy for their children. Dr. Debbie Reese (Nambe Pueblo) has literally created an ENTIRE WEBSITE for just this! Please check it out, look up books you’ve bought, throw out the problematic ones, and order the ones that will do the most good for your family and community.
I have TWO booklists on my website for anyone who wants to read and educate themselves about who we are as diverse peoples. There are all sorts of books on my lists, including children’s books. One is from 2018 and one is a new list for 2020. Additionally, there is a study guide for #NativeBook available on my website— grab a few friends and have a zoom book club!
Many of us share that the bare minimum you can do in November is look up the peoples of the land you currently inhabit. But this shouldn’t even be the bare minimum. You should know, respect, acknowledge and support the people of the land where you live. Can you pay rent to the tribe? Can you make sure you don’t assume the Indigenous peoples of the place where you live are all gone? Can you talk to your children, partner, parents, or community about the importance of knowing our true history?
Do yourself a favor and watch this important 16-minute documentary by Black Tongue Dakota Media (Kenn and John Little) about challenging Native stereotypes through art. Talk about the film at the Thanksgiving table. Challenge your own perceptions of who you think we are.
Watch Molly of Denali. Whether you have kids or not, I promise you’ll learn a lot.
A website that I’ve used with my own children, Four Directions Teachings, gives important teachings from 5 different Indigenous peoples, and shows the diversity within our stories and the ways in which we are connected. It is a helpful tool to understand why stories are so important to us as peoples. You can find it here.
Decolonize your Thanksgiving table by cooking Indigenous foods and honoring the peoples of the land where those foods are harvested. Order wild rice from Honor the Earth, buy The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen and make a few Indigenous side dishes. Talk about why food is important and how even the way we eat has been colonized.
Wonderful! There are SEVEN ways you can challenge yourself to learn (and unlearn), to dig deeper, to research, to explore, to have fun and connect with both your own humanity and Indigenous peoples through these different resources.
One more time: don’t automatically and initially message Indigenous peoples for the labor and help on these topics. You’ve got this.
A few reminders before we go:
Do something you love.
Eat chocolate or whatever you need to eat.
Take a nap when you can.
Get off social media and get back on when you need to.
Spend time with your pets.
Breathe deep and slowly.
We will get through this.