August 26th, 2022 Last Updated on: August 29th, 2022
Nowadays, you don't have to scroll too far to find a host of grim news and statistics surrounding Native Americans. But while much of the media fixates on the negative headlines plaguing Indian Country, it's important to remember that there's a lot of good happening, too.
To help balance out your newsfeed, we've compiled a list of 10 things that tell a different story about indigenous people. The following headlines exemplify the hope, strength, compassion, creativity, resilience, and good nature on display in Native communities across the country.
Read on to learn about some inspiring Native stories and initiatives making a difference in our communities.
1. The U.S. is getting its first Native American Treasurer.
There's some pretty exciting news in the world of politics today! President Biden recently announced the U.S. is getting its first Native American Treasurer. Marilynn Malerba, a lifetime Mohegan Tribe Chief, serves as a member of the Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee. She will become the first Native American woman to have her signature on United States currency. It's a big step forward for Native Americans, and it's also great news for people who want to see more diversity in our government.
2. High-speed, affordable internet could be coming to more Native Americans.
One thing that most people can agree on is that living without high-speed internet access is extremely difficult in today's world. Thankfully, that may be changing soon. At the moment, According to a survey by the Census Bureau, fixed broadband services reached 95.6% of the nation as a whole but just 67% of Native American communities. What is being done about this discrepancy? The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is a $980 million program that is all about digital inclusion and will award grant money to various areas in need. So far, the initiative has 43 projects going. This will make it easier than ever to connect with the outside world.
3. Native American voter engagement is up.
Most people wouldn't think of skateboarding as a way to engage Native American, Black, and Latinx communities, especially young people, in the political process, but that's precisely what “Skate to the Polls” is all about. The project’s leaders, Protect the Sacred and NDN Collective, recently encouraged Native individuals to get involved in local and national politics and fight back against voter suppression. The event recently took place in Kayenta, Arizona surrounding the Navajo Nation. According to Indian Country Today, “Dozens of young people skated, in solidarity, to Kayenta Recreation Park where voting experts were onsite giving community members voter information for the state and respective counties.”
Who would have thought that skating could make such a difference?
Check out their hashtag: #NativeVote22
4. Natives are helping save the migratory Monarch butterfly.
It's another happy story! Native Americans are joining forces to save the migratory Monarch butterfly. The Monarchs have been in decline for years due to deforestation and pesticides, but things are looking up thanks to the efforts of tribes across the country. By restoring forests and planting milkweed, the traditional food of the Monarchs, tribes are helping these beautiful creatures make a comeback! So if you're looking for an excuse to celebrate Native American heritage, look no further than their love of nature and conservation!
Listen to the full story on the Native American Calling podcast by Shawn Spruce.
5. Navajo Code Talkers Museum breaks ground.
The Diné (Navajo) people have a long and proud history. One of the most notable moments in their history was when they used their unique language to create an unbreakable code during World War II. This code was so successful that the Japanese could never crack it. A museum dedicated to the Navajo Code Talkers is being built in Tse Bonito, New Mexico, to honor these brave men. Construction has just begun on this fantastic new museum, and it is sure to be a popular tourist destination for years to come!
Fun Fact: The first National Code Talkers Day occurred on August 14, 1982.
6. We'll soon see the first Native American woman to go to space.
It's been a long time coming! Nicole Aunapu Mann will become the first Native American woman to fly to space this September. Mann, of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, will be the first woman of Indigenous heritage to make the trip to the International Space Station. The brave and talented astronaut John Herrington came before her as the first Native American in space. Mann inspires many young people in her community and worldwide, and she will surely make us proud when she reaches for the stars.
7. FEMA declares a new strategy to liaise with Native American tribes.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is committed to helping people prepare for, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies. Recently, FEMA announced it will liaise with Native American tribes to ensure that their unique needs are considered as the agency responds to climate change. Grant money, training, and a louder voice in strategies will take effect. This is excellent news for Native Americans, who are disproportionately affected by climate change. By working together, FEMA and the tribes can ensure that everyone is ready for whatever comes their way.
8. Native authors and artists are killing it.
You'll enjoy this one about two award-winning Native Americans. Both are creative individuals who have achieved great success in their respective fields. First is a Diné artist Armond Antonio of Gallup, New Mexico, who won multiple prizes for his realistic portraits at the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial. Second is a Diné author whose novels have captivated readers nationwide. Ramona Emerson’s thrilling novel “Shutter” recently debuted and is getting fantastic reviews. She uses her experience as a forensic photographer and life on the res to paint an enthralling picture.
Follow them to see what they’ll do next!
9. More Native Americans are embracing their agricultural roots.
Many Native American tribes across the United States are reclaiming their agricultural roots like never before. They're growing healthy foods, taking classes on farming and striving for self-sufficiency.
At the center of the movement is Braiding the Sacred, a growing network of indigenous corn growers from the four directions. They are working to preserve the traditional varieties of sacred corn by connecting leaders in agriculture around the role corn plays in the health of indigenous communities. Learn more in this article from the New York Times.
10. Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather for mistreatment at the 1973 Oscars.
In 1973, Sacheen Littlefeather was mistreated at the Academy Awards ceremony when she declined Marlon Brando's Oscar on his behalf for the adverse treatment and portrayal of Natives in Hollywood disrespectfully and disproportionately. Recently, the Academy formally apologized to Ms. Littlefeather for their treatment of her nearly forty years ago. In his letter, former Academy president David Rubin wrote, “The abuse you endured … was unwarranted and unjustified,” Rubin wrote. “The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long, the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.” This story shows how far others have come to understand and accept Native Americans and confess to their past wrongdoings.
It’s always inspiring to read about the good things happening in our world, especially when those events are catalyzed by movers and shakers in the Native American community. Hopefully, one of today’s stories about the incredible work being done by Native Americans across the country has made you smile.
We have a lot to be proud of, and we can continue making progress by standing together and supporting one another.
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