21-Day Racial Equity Indigenous Challenge©
Fighting White Supremacy Since 1492.
“Just a reminder: the system in what is currently known as the US isn’t ‘broken.’ It was designed by male white supremacist slaveowners on stolen Indigenous land to protect their interests. It’s working as it was designed.” –Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee)
Too often the framing of racial justice gets limited to the Black/white experience. We find that by broadening our lens of how white supremacy marginalizes multiple groups, we both deepen our understanding of white supremacist strategy and impacts and learn about particular histories and current issues of historically targeted groups. Indigenous people, the first to feel the wrath of white supremacy on what we now call US soil, sets the stage for the human and environmental destruction that has unfolded since. As you work through this challenge, bear in mind the degree of invisibility experienced in US Native communities. Not only did European colonial settlers rob Indigenous people of their land, their culture, and their lives, they erased their 20,000+ year old history through omission and myths. The process of reclaiming Indigenous history is a work in progress and therefore not always complete or aligned. Not to worry. Take in what you can in the spirit it is offered – from perspectives and experiences as diverse as the millions of descendants from the 574 nations on whose land we in the US now stand.
Commit. Choose an Activity. Complete. Reflect. Repeat.
Choose One Activity Per Day
To further your understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity.
Read: Encounter new writers and ideas from a range of media sources.
- Why Native Americans took Covid-19 seriously: ‘It’s our reality’ by Nina Lakhani (unknown heritage)
- Settler Fragility: Why Settler Privilege Is So Hard to Talk About by Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribe)
- 100 Ways to Support, Not Appropriate From, Native People Simon Moya-Smith (Oglala Lakota)
- Today is National Voter Registration Day. The evolution of American voting rights in 242 years shows how far we’ve come — and how far we still have to go by Grace Panetta (Not Indigenous) and Olivia Reaney (Not Indigenous)
- Freedom Act by Dennis Zotigh (Kiowa, San Juan Pueblo, Santee Dakota)
- The Skinning Tree America’s redface problem onstage by Jennifer Percy (Not Indigenous)
- Cultural Appropriations and the Plains Headdress by Marisa Wood (Monacan)
- 4 Ways To Honor Without Appropriating Culture by Taté Walker (Lakota)
- When Native Americans Were Slaughtered in the Name of ‘Civilization’ by Donald L. Fixico (Shawnee, Sac and Fox, Muscogee Creek, Seminole)
- Hitler Said to Have Been Inspired by US Indian Reservation System by Simon Moya-Smith (Oglala Lakota)
- Last Lakota Code Talker by Bernie Hunhoff (Not Indigenous)
- TransAtlantic Slave Trade by David Keys (Not Indigenous)
- 5 Ways The Government Keeps NAs In Poverty by Shawn Regan (Not Indigenous)
- Occupation of Alcatraz Island by Eleri Harris (unknown heritage) and Mariah-Rose Marie M (unknown heritage)
- America Has Always Used Schools as a Weapon Against Native Americans by Katrina Boone (Not Indigenous)
- It Takes a Movement by Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq)
Listen in on the kinds of open, honest conversations that too many of us avoid having.
- All My Relations, hosted by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) this podcast “explores indigeneity in all its complexity.” Episodes focus on issues such as DNA identity, appropriation, feminism, food sovereignty, gender, sexuality, and more while “keeping it real, playing games, laughing a lot, and even crying sometimes.” (1 hour episodes)
- Have You Ever Been Told To “Go Back To Where You Came From?” Jacqueline Keeler (Diné and Ihanktonwan Dakota) asked KBOO listeners in light of Congress passing a resolution condemning Trump’s racist tweets telling unnamed “Progressive Congresswomen” to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” have you ever been told “to go back to where you came from?” (1 hour)
- Breakdances with Wolves Podcast, hosted by Gyasi Ross (Blackfoot/ Suquamish), Wesley (“Snipes Type”) Roach (Lakota Sioux), and Minty LongEarth (Santee/Creek/ Choctaw), “a few Natives with opinions and a platform.” Episodes report on current events through an indigenous perspective. (1 hour episodes)
- Uprooted: 1950s plan to erase Indian Country Podcast about the genocidal Indian relocation and termination policies of the US government in the 1950s and 60s. At the time, “blackness” was defined by the “one-drop rule,” but “Indianness” could be washed away in just a few generations through intermarriage with whites. More black Americans meant more workers to exploit. Fewer Native Americans meant more land to take. (50 minutes)
- Unreserved Podcast host Rosanna Deerchild (O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree) takes you straight into Indigenous Canada, from Halifax to Haida Gwaii, from Shamattawa to Ottawa, introducing listeners to the storytellers, culture makers and community shakers from across the country. The Unreserved team offers real talk from the people behind the headlines, with a soundtrack from the best in Indigenous music. (40-55 minute episodes)
- Teaching While White: Recovering the Voice of Native Americans in the Classroom Jenna Chandler-Ward interviews Native American educator Claudia Fox Tree (Arawak) about the ways we learn about Indigenous Peoples in school- or don’t. (30 minutes)
- Morning Show On WJOP With Mary Jacobsen Claudia Fox Tree, Penny Lazarus & Brian Greenberg discuss Thanksgiving inaccuracies, history, and truths the National Day of Mourning (1 hour)
- The Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women From Across The U.S. NPR’s Sacha Pfeiffer speaks with Annita Lucchesi (Cheyenne) about her report looking at missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in 71 cities across the U.S. (4 minutes)
- Listening to Indigenous Voices Join the Jilted Indians as we discuss the importance of listening to indigenous voices and building a shared memory of the history of this country on a special Indigenous People’s Day episode. (1 hour)
Watch and learn. We've offered everything from short videos to full-length films.
- The Hidden History of Indian Slavery in America – Exposes the history of the enslavement of 2.5-5 million native peoples in the Americas, beginning the moment Christopher Columbus arrived. (40 minutes)
- Doctrine of Discovery – Professor Robert Miller (Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma) Tells the legal roots of manifest destiny and the pervasive land theft violations that resulted. It lays the foundation for systemic racism. (30 min) Less time? Here is the 8-minute version
- ‘We the People’ – the three most misunderstood words in US history – TED Talk by Mark Charles ( Navajo) man explains the history of the Papal Bulls of the 15th Century which are embedded in our founding documents in the 18th Century, codified as legal precedent in the 19th Century and referenced by the Supreme Court in the 20th and 21st Centuries, the Doctrine of Discovery has been used throughout the history of the United States to keep “We the People” from including all the people. (17 minutes)
- Creating A More Equitable Society Is In White Americans’ Self Interest – Dr. Ibram X. Kendi joins Stephen Colbert to discuss what it takes to call one’s self antiracist, and how he believes it’s in everyone’s interest to end the racist policies that cause inequality in this country (12 minutes)
- The Loss of Native American Lands Within the US: Every Year – Time lapse-style video graphic illustrating the rapid land theft by colonial settlers of Native American land. (2 mins)
- Mount Rushmore – Adam Ruins Everything explains how the sacred Black Hills were stolen and carved upon without Lakota permission. (5 minutes)
- Christopher Columbus Was a Murderous Moron – Adam Ruins Everything explains where this holiday comes from and why changing it to Indigenous Peoples Day is so important. (6 minutes)
- Columbus Was a Genocidal Rapist – Franchesca Ramsey explains who Christopher Columbus was, why it makes no sense to celebrate him, and how Indigenous People’s Day is taking hold across the country. (3 minutes)
- Reconsider Columbus Day – A PSA-style video featuring multiple voices urging us all to abolish the holiday and use the day to learn Indigenous history. (2 minutes)
- Justice for Aboriginal Peoples — It’s time – A short history of Indigenous life before first contact. (6 minutes)
- Everything You Know About Thanksgiving is WRONG – Franchesca Ramsey shares some real history about the myth-filled US holiday called Thanksgiving. (4 minutes)
- Native American Girls Describe the REAL History Behind Thanksgiving – 6 Native American girls school us on the REAL history of Thanksgiving. (2 minutes)
- Should ALL Native American Mascots be BANNED? – Franchesca Ramsey and Nataanii Means (Lakota, Omaha, Diné) unpack why the answer is yes, yes, yes! (4 minutes)
- Hear the Untold Story of a Canadian Code Talker from WWII – The story of Canadian code talker Charles “Checker” Tomkins (Metis) and how the top-secret cree-language mission he helped lead contributed to the winning of of WWII. (14 minutes)
- The Iroquois Influence on the Constitution – Host and producer of First Voices Indigenous Radio’s Tiokasin Ghosthorse explains how US founding fathers used what they learned from Iroquois law in the US Constitution. (4 minutes)
- Revitalizing the Wolastoquey Language – Members of the Wolastoquey Nation share their experiences around speaking and reclaiming their language in an effort to maintain and pass along culture. They ask the question: Can you be a nation without language? (14 minutes)
- A Conversation With Native Americans on Race – Indigenous people from a range of backgrounds grapple with the racist contradictions of a country that, many feel, would prefer it if Native Americans didn’t exist. (6 minutes)
- Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters: ‘The World Needed To See What Was Going On’ – Native Americans protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline broadcast their own story live online to show the world “the truth” about the controversial construction project. (3 minutes)
- 1989 – American Indian Activist Russell Means testifies at Senate Hearing – The late Russell Means (Oglala Lakota) harshly criticizes the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian leadership of reservations. (6 minutes)
- “The Police Killings No One Is Talking About”: Native Americans Most Likely to be Killed by Cops – News report revealing Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other group, including African Americans. It also finds that cases of African-American police deaths tend to dominate headlines, while killings of Native people go almost entirely unreported by mainstream U.S. media. (15 minutes – start at minute 44)
- 6 Misconceptions About Native American People – 7 Native American girls debunk the common misconceptions about their culture. (3 minutes)
- Higher education and the legacy of land theft – After a two year investigation by High Country News, the story Land Grab Universities was published at the end of March of this year. It shows how the U.S. Government took away lands from Tribal Nations and helped states created endowments for these universities. Those endowments and the money trail remain on the books today. (27 minutes)
- Vine Deloria Jr. on Our Relationship to the Unseen – Thoughtful exploration of the contrast between Indigenous relationship to life, nature, and intuition and western culture’s materialism orientation. (5 minutes)
- Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life Documentary – Chronicles the achievements of Sainte-Marie and her personal journey as singer, songwriter, artist, teacher and activist. Featuring interviews with Joni Mitchell, Randy Bachman, Steppenwolf’s John Kay, Robbie Robertson, Bill Cosby and folk legend Eric Andersen; Buffy Sainte-Marie: Other noteworthy appearances in the film are those of Pete Seeger and Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman. (48 minutes)
- Learn about 5 Native American Actors – Quick bios and video shorts of Indigenous actors West Studi (Cherokee), Zahn McClaron (Hunkpapa Lakota), Adam Beach (Anishinaabe, Saulteaux tribe), Irene Bedard (Inuit and Cree), Graham Greene (Oneida). (1 – 7 minute video shorts)
- Indigenous People React to Indigenous Representation in Film And TV – Conversation with a diverse range of Indigenous people by FBE about media depictions of Indigenous people, Columbus day, and Indigenous identity. (15 minutes)
- In The White Man’s Image – PBS documentary about the Native American boarding school movement designed to “kill the Indian and save the man.” (56 minutes)
Notice: Why didn’t I see this sooner? It’s easy to overlook what we’re not looking for.
Once people start to learn about white privilege and America’s systems of oppression through history, they often ask, “Why didn’t I see this sooner?” It’s easy to overlook what we’re not looking for. Once you understand the phenomenon of selective noticing, take yourself on a noticing adventure.
Check out the Native Land App on your browser (also can download on phone, tablet).
- On whose land were you born?
- On whose land are you now?
- On whose land did you (pick one) go to college, get married, hold a job?
- Did you know this?
- How hard was it to find this information?
- A guide to Indigenous land acknowledgment
Review this list of culinary and food contributions.
- How many you use in your own diet that are Indigenous to the Americas.
- Did you know they were Indigenous?
- If not, where did you learn/ think they were from?
- Does your own ancestry use or claim some of them as their own?
As you move about around your town/region, look for signs of Indigenous people.
- Look for
- State’s name
- Street names
- Parks, lakes, mountain names
- Car names
- School and other building names
- Get curious
- Are the names connected to the original people of the area?
- Are the names stereotypical and disconnected?
- Can you find out the meaning of the name(s)?
- What language is the name from?
- Once you discover (hello google!) what the meanings are, notice if you think or feel differently about this word you’ve seen and said so many times before.
Notice what sports you have played or watched.
- How many involve rubber or a stick and ball?
- Are they team against team or one-on-one?
- Many sports owe their origins to Indigenous people if they used rubber (an Indigenous plant) or are played in teams (other places in the world created two player games like chess and checkers).
If there is a major holiday or observance, what is the Indigenous perspective?
- Consider events, such as, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Halloween, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and Veteran’s Day.
- How can you find out what the Indigenous perspective is for each of the above?
- How is the Indigenous perspective portrayed in news sources, greeting cards, and/ or television shows?
- Is it there or missing?
- Do you know any Indigenous observances and is time off work given for them?
Follow Racial Justice activists, educators, organizations, and movements on social media.
Consider connecting with any of the people you learn about in the above resources. Here are more ideas to widen your circle of who you follow. Pro Tip: check out who these organizations follow, quote, repost, and retweet to find more people to follow.
Follow Indigenous activists, educators, and organizations on social media. Here are some ideas to get you started. A good way to widen your circle of who you follow is to check out who these organizations follow, quote, repost, and retweet.
Indian Country Today
Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
International Indian Treaty Council
Two Feathers Productions
Returning the Gift
Check out and/or follow these hashtags
Engage in racially mixed settings. Be a learner more than a knower.
This can be the hardest part for people new to racial justice work. Engaging in racially mixed settings can trigger age-old power and privilege dynamics. The goal is to be a learner more than a knower, exactly the opposite of what dominant U.S. culture teaches us to be.
Here are some things to keep in mind when engaging with Indigenous peoples and cultures.
Be aware of cultural appropriation.
- Consider where you see images of Indigenous People.
- What is the worst thing that could/ would happen, if an Indigenous “mascot” was changed?
- What is the positive outcome of changing a mascot?
- What has happened when celebrities have worn a headdress? How has the public reacted?
- Do you think religious practices should be done outside of the religious institution? Consider ceremonies in your own practice (If Catholic, maybe the Eucharist. If Jewish, removing the Torah.) How does this apply to Vision Quests, Naming Ceremonies, Sage Smudging, and Sweat Lodges?
TEACHING THROUGH BOOKS
Which books are appropriate?
- Visit Debbie Reese (Nambé Pueblo) to see her analysis of American Indians in Children’s Literature.
Practice “reciprocity” with the natural environment.
- “What should be our response to the generosity of the more-than-human world?
- In a world that gives us maple syrup, spotted salamanders, and sand hill cranes, shouldn’t we at least pay attention?
- Paying attention is an ongoing act of reciprocity, the gift that keeps on giving, in which attention generates wonder, which generates more attention—and more joy.
- Paying attention to the more-than-human world doesn’t lead only to amazement; it leads also to acknowledgment of pain.
- Open and attentive, we see and feel equally the beauty and the wounds, the old growth and the clear-cut, the mountain and the mine.
- Paying attention to suffering sharpens our ability to respond.
- To be responsible.
- This, too, is a gift, for when we fall in love with the living world, we cannot be bystanders to its destruction.
- Attention becomes intention, which coalesces itself to action.” ~Robin Wall Kimmerer
Act: Flex your skills. Take action to interrupt power and privilege dynamics.
Actions to consider:
- Invite friend(s), family, and/or colleagues to do this challenge with you.
- Prepare yourself to interrupt racial jokes about Indigenous people. Click HERE for some advice about how.
- Interrupt the pattern of white silence by speaking openly with family, friends, and colleagues about what you’re doing and learning in this challenge.
- Invite friend(s), family, and/or colleagues to join you for one or more of your daily “to-do’s” for a low-threshold invitation into the work and introduction to the 21-Day Challenge.
- Does your school, workplace, or faith group have an Equity Committee? Share this with them. Can they make it a school wide initiative? Particularly in the fall when two especially oppressive holidays happen?
- Join and Support your state’s Indigenous Organizations
- Google “[city] or [state] Indigenous Trails” and go walk them
- Attend a Day of Mourning/ Remembrance on Thanksgiving Day
- If you’re Indigenous, consider starting a Day of Mourning/ Remembrance on Thanksgiving Day (Massachusetts example HERE)
- Attend a (Social Distance) Pow Wow. Prep for Pow Wow here, here, and here
- Write a letter – Tell the MA Senate Ways & Means Committee: Amend the Native American Mascots Bill
- Research an indigenous issue in your area, join it, and/or take action:
- Removing monuments or placing new monuments/placards nearby
- Not Your Mascot campaign (writing letters to public officials)
- Current local repatriation requests
- Local tribal, state, federal recognition requests
- Environmental racism/damage
- Controversies around building a casino
- Water/hunting/fishing rights (usually related to treaties, access to pathways)
- Current Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) cases
- Create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) poster or video:
- Describe stereotypes in your environment (grocery stores, party/costume shops, books, movies/cartoons/television, etc.)
- Explain the stereotype
- Correct misinformation
- Offer a challenge to dismantle stereotypes (i.e.: stop buying product)
Reflect on what you choose to do, what you’re learning, and how you are feeling.
Reflecting and Journaling is a crucial piece of the challenge. Plan to take time everyday to reflect on what you chose to do, what you’re learning, and how you are feeling. Difficult emotions such as shame and anger, though uncomfortable to feel, can guide you to deeper self-awareness about how power and privilege impacts you and the people in your life. At the very least, use the “Reflect” space on the reflecting journal tool.
Create a Soundtrack4Justice playlist that fuels you and/or can serve as a conversation starter with people of all ages.
Let the music move you!
AIM Unity Song (American Indian Movement)
Who Will Speak by Crystal Woman (Cherokee)
Prayer Loop Song by Supaman (Apsáalooke/ Crow Nation)
Why by Supaman (Apsáalooke/ Crow Nation) also has a Jingle Dress Dancer
Stand Up is about DAPL
Blackbird by The Beatles sung in Mi’kmaq by Emma Stevens (Mi’kmaq)
The Climb by Miley Cyrus sung in Mi’kmaq by 10 year old Kalolin Johnson (Mi’kmaq)
Gentle Warrior (featuring Devon Paul and Thunder Herney) by an older Kalolin Johnson (Mi’kmaq)
Wishi Ta by Brooke Medicine Eagle (Crow)
Come and Get Your Love by Red Bone (various nations)
Universal Soldier with narrative by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree)
Up Where We Belong by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree)
Songs not by Indigenous People, but related and supportive.
Indanee by Pat Humphries
HERE is a good, simple song for Columbus Day.
Want to keep learning? See more resources HERE.
Recent “Good News” (including legal victories) HERE.
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