Disaster strikes – and PWNA responds with Emergency Relief for tribes adversely affected by environmental situations. In these situations, PWNA provides immediate disaster relief such as nonperishable foods, water, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products, as requested by its reservation partners.
But, I’d like to bring attention to three particular cases that occurred in 2016 – each one affecting lives and homes for the Lumbee Tribe, United Houma Nation or the Bad River Tribe over the past few months – each well beyond PWNA’s regular service area.
Going first to North Carolina, in October, Hurricane Matthew made landfall and the Lumbee Tribe was hit hard by flooding, with approximately 50,000 people affected. Residents were evacuated and many families were left “homeless or without electricity, and businesses were destroyed…” By October 11, emergency aid was requested from PWNA to assist families with clean up and displacement from their homes. PWNA was first contacted for aid by the American Red Cross, on behalf of the tribe, and responded with about $630,000 in critical supplies, including more than 25,000 pounds of food. The Walmart Foundation supported PWNA in this effort, providing $25,000 worth of supplies. Local residents impacted with longer term needs may apply for FEMA aid.
Moving on to Louisiana in August, severe storms caused widespread flooding that impacted the United Houma Nation. The flooding led to the destruction of homes, displacement of families and loss of vehicles and personal effects for up to 250 tribal citizens. The tribe requested food, water and cleaning supplies. PWNA responded with $1.2M in aid, including more than 36,000 pounds of food and coordinated relief efforts with the American Red Cross who supplied about $65,000 worth of water. On a September 28 follow-up call with Chief Thomas Dardar, he noted, “every product was a great quality product and everything sent was needed and appreciated. The blankets in particular were so appreciated by the Elders.”
Finally, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin experienced heavy rains in July that led to widespread flooding. Several counties were named in disaster declarations, including Ashland County – home of the Bad River Tribe. Four of the tribe’s main communities were affected, with 590 homes either damaged or destroyed, roadways washed out and utilities disrupted. Some residents were without electricity, others were under advisories to boil water for home use, and many lost their food due to power outages – restoration was slow as each home was subject to individual inspection. PWNA responded with more than 100,000 pounds of food, as well as emergency blankets and cleaning supplies, and coordinated the local distribution through the Bad River Community Center in Odanah, Wisconsin.
A national member of VOAD – Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster – PWNA provides emergency relief to reservations within its 12-state service area. As a state member of VOAD in Arizona, South Dakota and Montana, PWNA concentrates its emergency relief in these areas but evaluates other disasters on a case by case basis, if requested by the tribe.
Life on the reservation has its hardships every day, but when disaster strikes, it can bring extended hardship to geographically-isolated and economically-stressed communities. Fortunately, many partners know PWNA as a first responder for the reservations and PWNA is often the first organization they call for disaster relief.
As we enter the holiday giving season, Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) encourages everyone to participate in #GivingTuesday, a day designed to inspire people to collaborate on improving their local communities and to give back to causes they support. Held annually and occurring this year on Nov. 29, #GivingTuesday is the Tuesday immediately after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encouraging consumer attention to those in need after a weekend full of shopping.
As part of this once-a-year opportunity, PWNA can earn up to $10,000 in matching funds for donations made through Nov. 29, as part of the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge for Giving Tuesday. For a limited time, people across the world can touch the lives of Native Americans in need, and their gift to PWNA will be matched dollar for dollar and used to support food and holiday care for homebound Elders on the reservations.
PWNA supports nutritious, hot meals for Elders on remote, geographically isolated and impoverished reservations, as well as holiday services. We’re thankful to have been selected for the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge and our hope is to reach our goal and continue to support our reservation partners delivering healthy meals, along with holiday cheer, to ensure healthy holidays for the homebound.
To help PWNA reach its Challenge goal and make a holiday memory for a homebound Elder, visit www.crowdrise.com/PWNA4hope2016 to make a donation by tomorrow, Nov. 29. Donations must be made on this Crowdrise page to qualify for matching funds.
Thank you for joining us throughout November to celebrate American Indian Heritage Month. Echoing the words of President Obama on Nov. 25, 2009, when he encouraged every American to observe the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day:
“…it is important for all of us to understand the rich culture, tradition and history of Native Americans and their status today– and to appreciate the contributions that First Americans have made, and will continue to make to our Nation.”
Linking the national Heritage Day to Thanksgiving is fitting, given the contributions of American Indians that long preceded the first harvest of the pilgrims. For those of you who missed “The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving,” visit www.PWNA4hope.org to download it now.
We are moved by the generosity with which you shared our stories on your social pages, and by the comments you left on our blog – many of which echo the sentiment that videos like PWNA’s should be shown in the schools. Here is just one of the many blog comments that touched our hearts:
Marilyn Enness wrote: “Now is the time to rewrite elementary-, midde-, high school text books and curriculum. My school years in the ’50s-60’s lacked education of the truth, and as an elementary school teacher, 40 years later, I was teaching the same things I had learned! As I educated myself, I passed on info to the fifth graders, in a neutral matter-of-fact way and never did they side with the governing forces. They were appalled. It went against all morals and values they had learned in their 10 years of upbringing. Info is so accessible nowadays; hopefully local units can once again determine the course, if core curriculum goes to the wayside.”
Ina P. of Wisconsin: Code Talker book
Michelle V. of North Carolina: Heritage Month t-shirt
Paula A. of Pennsylvania: Crazy Horse book
Rhonda L. of Washington: Revenant movie DVD
Jeanette S. of Michigan: Squanto book
Martin B. of Minnesota.: Standing Bear DVD
Cynthia S. of California: Grand prize winner of We Shall Remain documentary DVD set
Please stay with us now through November 29 for updates about #GivingTuesday, and see how you can get involved at www.crowdrise.com/PWNA4hope2016.
Thanksgiving celebration, and gratitude, come in different shapes and sizes. Some people gather with friends and neighbors for a meal and reflection on the good things in their lives. Some travel to be with loved ones, and some practice gratitude daily, rather than setting it aside for one special Thursday in November.
Sara Fills The Pipe, an Elder from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, has spent her Thanksgiving in some of these ways, but also in ways that are very different – even across the generations of her own life. Read her story, “Sara Fills the Pipe on Thanks & Thanksgiving,” to learn how she has spent Thanksgiving, what she has taught her children and grandchildren about the first Thanksgiving and her questions about the holiday.
Like Sara, each of PWNA’s partners and reservation communities has a different take on Thanksgiving – ranging from a day of gratitude to a day of mourning. In an effort to support families and communities in however they wish to recognize it, PWNA offers a Thanksgiving service to reservation-based program partners, providing foods that have come to be the typical fare for this controversial holiday. This is one of the many ways PWNA provides food throughout our service area.
PWNA partners may participate in the Thanksgiving service in one of two ways. One way is a community-wide meal prepared by the partner and local volunteers, to be shared by all community members. Each community meal delivery typically includes turkey, vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, potatoes and pies – enough to feed the number of people anticipated by each partner. Another way to participate is through individual family meal bags. In this, the partner orders enough meal boxes to serve every Elder in their community. A family meal box will feed up to six people and includes foods similar to those provided for community meals.
Annually, PWNA partners request thousands of Thanksgiving meals, and this year, PWNA is providing enough food for just over 38,000 people in the Northern Plains and Southwest. Through the heartfelt work of our partners, this impact will be felt across seven different states, reaching into 70 communities on 24 reservations – for this one holiday alone! PWNA’s staff is fortunate to connect with some of the partners hosting these meals. We are always welcomed with smiles and hugs, often followed by an apron, hairnet and gloves! It’s always an honor to serve and visit these communities.
My own childhood memories of Thanksgiving involve “the kids table” and a mass of food that took days to prepare and about 10 minutes to eat (not including the leftovers). The holiday included aunts and uncles and cousins that only congregated every so often as a family. I remember crawling up on my grandfather’s lap and sipping coffee out of his mug (it was really cream and sugar with a dash of coffee). And, of course, I likely learned about the first meal between Indians and pilgrims while seated with my classmates sporting a black pilgrim hat or a feather headdress made from construction paper. As a Lakota woman, I am happy to know so much more of the history and truth about this particular holiday and to recognize that I have much to be thankful for every day.
Although Sara hasn’t decided where she will end up for Thanksgiving this year, we hope you think about her, her family, her story and the people and places you are grateful for on Thanksgiving and year round.
We are continuing our theme of honoring Native American culture and history throughout November, American Indian Heritage Month. Last week, we were excited to share with you the real story of the first Thanksgiving, curated from accounts by the ancestors of the Indians who were there, and the pilgrims who inhabited Plymouth Colony. This week we take a closer look at what happened next – after the first Thanksgiving.
For many people, the story of Thanksgiving stops at the harvest and the “happy ending.” Often people never stop to think what happened next – in the same way many never think about what happened in Native history after the treaties and the reservations. Yet Native history didn’t stop there and neither did the realities of the first Thanksgiving.
The rest of the story untold is how that first harvest marked the end of pilgrim reliance on their tribal neighbors, and the relationship brutally changed. In return for their charity and compassion, the Wampanoag and other tribes got genocide, loss of land and centuries of oppression.
To grasp the untold story after the first Thanksgiving, one need only look at realities on the reservations and realize that history and policies, then and now, have shaped the most adverse challenges of modern Native life. To learn more, go to www.PWNA4hope.org, where you can download a telling story that includes:
- What happened within 10 years after the first Thanksgiving
- Surprising eras of U.S. policies toward the tribes
- The legacy left for Natives in the wake of U.S. history and policies
Some illuminating questions to ponder are:
- Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with feasts and football – why do many Native people consider Thanksgiving a National Day of Mourning?
- Family is essential – can you guess why Native children were removed from their homes?
- As a group, Native Americans suffer the highest poverty in the U.S. – can you guess what percent of U.S. giving supports Native causes?
You can’t change history, but knowing the real history could change you. Be sure to read “The Untold Story After the First Thanksgiving” on www.PWNA4hope.org. If you didn’t catch part one, “The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving,” be sure to read it first! And visit us next Tuesday for one Sioux Elder’s take on Thanksgiving.
Last week, we were excited to share with you the ways we’re honoring Native American culture and history throughout November, American Indian Heritage Month. November conjures many images and sentiments for people in the U.S., and chief among them is Thanksgiving. Sharing a meal with family or friends, reflecting on what we’re thankful for, it’s a holiday looked upon with fondness by many.
In the spirit of honoring Native history, it’s also important to consider the origins of Thanksgiving as we know it. The story commonly told – and commonly believed – is that pilgrims and Indians sat down for a meal to share their cultures and celebrate the harvest. In reality, the pilgrim story was invented and the national Thanksgiving holiday proclaimed for political reasons.
To learn the real story of the first Thanksgiving, as shared by historians of Squanto’s tribe – the Wampanoags – and the pilgrims in Plymouth Colony, go to www.PWNA4hope.org, where you can download a compelling curated story that includes:
- Why the pilgrims really came to America
- Why the Thanksgiving holiday was really started
- How Squanto already knew the English language when he first encountered the pilgrims
- What really happened at “the first Thanksgiving”
Some additional eye-opening questions to ponder about the first Thanksgiving are:
- Five different states have claimed to be the site of the first Thanksgiving – can you guess which ones?
- The pilgrims didn’t land at Plymouth Rock – can you guess where they actually came ashore?
- One element of the first Thanksgiving is true – can you guess what that is?
Some say Thanksgiving is celebrated at the expense of Native peoples, and while America celebrates a day of thanks with feasts and football, many Native Americans continue to live with disparities and economic hardships. You can’t change history, but knowing the real history could change you. Be sure to read “The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving” and learn more in part two, “After the First Thanksgiving,” which we’ll be sharing next week on www.PWNA4hope.org.
Today, we recognize the beginning of American Indian Heritage Month, and encourage you to join us in our reflection of the culture and history of the Native American tribes that first inhabited our country. The contributions and cultural impact of Native Americans is significant and diverse, with 567 federally recognized Indian tribes, reservations and pueblos in more than 30 states, nearly 35 state-recognized tribes, and many other tribes now petitioning for federal or state recognition.
Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans, and proud to be celebrating Native culture, honoring Native history and exploring everyday realities of life on the reservations. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the basic standard of living for many Native Americans remains well below the rest of the U.S. and the disparities some communities face are startling in 21st century America. That is why remembrance and aid to such communities is so vital to their well-being.
Throughout American Indian Heritage Month, we invite you to expand your knowledge and appreciation through stories on Native culture, history, heritage and wisdom by visiting www.PWNA4hope.org. There, we will be posting curated articles on the first Thanksgiving, as well as what happened after that fateful interaction, and stories featuring some of the Native Elders we serve.
On Nov. 3, go to www.PWNA4hope.org to hear from Ben Good Buffalo, a resident and citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in southwestern South Dakota. On Nov. 10, we’ll share the stories of Dorothy Smith and Helen Phillips, patrons of the San Carlos Older Adult Center in south central Arizona. On Nov. 22, read about Sara Fills the Pipe, her thoughts on Thanksgiving and her time spent with friends at the Oglala Elderly Meal Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
If you’re inspired by the stories you read, we encourage you to honor American Indian Heritage month by making a contribution today. In addition to providing Thanksgiving meals for thousands of Native Americans each November, PWNA provides immediate support year-round in education, nutrition and health, animal welfare, and emergency relief, and supports long-term solutions such as scholarships, training for emerging leaders and community investment projects to help end the cycle of poverty. Our staff collaborates with existing reservation-based programs to deliver goods and services based on the tribes’ self-identified goals and solutions for building their communities – an approach that has proven to be culturally relevant, respectful and effective.
Continuing with our practice of keeping you apprised of Native news and relevant articles, take a closer look at some of the stories that piqued our interest in October. You can stay up to date with more Native news articles by following us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
How America’s Past Shapes Native Americans’ Present via The Atlantic
- “Native American poverty doesn’t fit the image many may have of life on secluded, depleted reservations. Most Native Americans now live in cities, where many are still trying to adjust to urban life; as a group, Native Americans face a 27 percent poverty rate and are still trying to reverse some of the lasting effects of federal policies that have put them at a disadvantage for hundreds of years.”
Columbus Day and what Native Americans really need via Fox News Opinion
- “This week the city of Denver will become the 14th community in the country to recognize the second Monday of October—previously known only as Columbus Day—as a day to recognize the contributions of Native peoples to the United States. While Denver’s new holiday won’t supplant Columbus Day, the intention is clear. Celebrating explorers like Columbus Day is an insult to American Indians.”
- “New Mexico State University’s beginning farmers and ranchers program that helps Native American farmers and ranchers succeed in agriculture has been extended three more years and expanded to include both the eight northern and 10 southern pueblos… The RAIPAP staff is currently selecting the participants from the pueblos of Taos, Picuris, Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambe, Tesuque, Cochiti, San Felipe, Santo Domingo, Sandia, Santa Ana, Zia, Jemez, Isleta, Laguna and Acoma. They are anticipating having 100 participants who will receive training to help them reach their goals for their agricultural operations.”
The Secret Strength of Standing Rock via Yes! Magazine
- “Since the Sacred Stone camp was founded in April to fight the Dakota Access pipeline, which would cross under the Missouri River a few hundred feet upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, the movement has consistently centered on protecting clean water. But as the occupation grew over the summer, attracting Native and non-Native supporters from around the world, overflow camps were established, and the scope of the movement expanded, as well… the movement is now about much more than a single pipeline. Supporters have connected with different aspects, such as strengthening tribal sovereignty, fighting eminent domain, exposing the social and environmental impacts of the Bakken oil fields, and moving away from fossil fuels.”
Sabine Parish awarded $2.9 million to help American Indian students via The Shreveport Times
- “Sabine Parish recently received a $2.9 million grant to benefit American Indian students…. ‘This grant gave us the opportunity to bring in some much needed funds to make sure all of our students, and American Indian students for this grant, make it to graduation.’ The Office of Indian Education awarded 32 total grants to recipients in 13 different states. Sabine Parish was one of two parishes in Louisiana to receive the grant.”
In February of 2015, Senator Robert Wittman of Virginia introduced H.R. 872 through Congress, seeking federal recognition for Virginia tribes, and last month the bill passed the House National Resource Committee. The bill affects a little more than 4,000 Native Americans, encompassing the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan, and Nansemond Tribes in the state of Virginia.
These Virginia tribes are state recognized, but not yet federally recognized. If bill H.R. 872 passes, then the tribes would be granted access to rights and laws afforded to all federally recognized tribes, including a government-to-government relationship with the U.S. and eligibility for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian affairs. Among other things, this would include protecting their fishing, natural resources and lands.
These tribes have been working toward federal recognition since 1990, or even earlier — recognition long overdue considering their rich history. The Pamunkey Tribe was the first in Virginia to earn federal recognition, and that only happened last year, on July 2, 2015.
The Chickahominy Tribe has over 800 members today, and has resided on their ancestral lands since the 1600s. The tribe lived alongside the Chickahominy River, where they were close to the English settlement of Jamestown. During the original settlement, the Chickahominy traded food for goods with the people of Jamestown, and later taught them how to farm the lands around the settlement. When the tribe signed a treaty that forced them out of their original homeland in 1646, they were compensated with other land.
Another tribe, the Monacan Indian Nation, is one of the oldest indigenous groups still living on ancestral homelands, and at least as far back as 1607, they lived along the falls of the James River in Virginia. The Monacan Tribe makes up more than half of the state-recognized Native population, with more than 2,000 members; this number may be even higher, as many people were not allowed to register as Native American for the 1930 Census.
Although small, these tribes have some of the strongest roots in the state of Virginia. The passage of H.R. 872 would grant the same benefits to these tribes as to all federally recognized tribes – except Indian gaming would be prohibited. The bill recently passed review by its sub-committee (the House Natural Resource Subcommittee on Indian, insular, and Alaska Native Affairs), in which case it may soon be submitted through the House and Senate for approval.
Federal recognition would be a significant and just win for these the tribes. Some sources estimate 220 or more tribes are unrecognized, and dealing with policies such as recognition has been said to be degrading. A member of the Shasta Tribe of California was quoted as saying, “I’ve been told to my face that I don’t exist, that I’m extinct. It’s demeaning and humiliating. It’s degrading.” The disregard of such tribes seems like the cause of their “disappearance” in today’s age. Federal recognition for any tribe helps them be known by the mainstream for their culture and helps the tribe continue to exist in unity and, hopefully, thrive.
Not so long ago in Native culture, being a warrior was an integral responsibility of tribal life. Defending the tribe’s land and family, and acquiring the necessary resources, such as through hunting, was simply expected. Today, Native Americans are still defending land and family through their service in the U.S. military.
Next month, on Nov. 11, we observe the 97th anniversary of Veterans Day, Armistice Day prior to the official name change in 1954. As an ally to the tribes, and leading into American Indian Heritage Month – also in November – PWNA is taking a look at honoring Veterans in the Native way.
Maybe it’s our history of strength and determination that leads Natives to the highest per capita rate of military service, or perhaps it’s the value we place on our homeland. In any case, while all veterans are recognized for their service, most tribes hold their veterans in especially high regard, praising them and honoring them through ceremonies and awards.
Most commonly, Native American veterans are given eagle feathers for their service, a sign of highest respect in many tribes. In other cases, veterans are asked to lead honoring ceremonies, such as opening grand entry at powwows, ushering in the flags of the tribe and country, or even giving an opening prayer. Some of these honorings even focus on resources for veterans, providing workshops, talking circles, health information and cultural activities. The Gathering of Warriors Native Veterans Summit focuses specifically on these topics, as well as providing financial stability and better access to health care.
The service of these veterans does not go unnoticed. Quite recently, the National Museum of the American Indian undertook the responsibility of creating a National Native American Veterans Memorial. This is the first memorial dedicated to Native veterans, and Congress hopes it will invite more Americans to learn about the proud military service of our indigenous people.
Honoring Native warriors and veterans has always been a part of indigenous culture. It keeps the importance of those who protect our homeland close to our hearts, and ever reminds us of the valor and bravery these men and women exhibit to ensure our safety. Equally important, it gives veterans their due for their many sacrifices. It’s important to support our veterans by helping them gain access to important resources that may be needed after the injuries and traumas they endure.
We thank the men and women at arms who defend our nation. Here’s to you for all you do!