Thank You and Giving for Christmas on the Reservations

American Indian Heritage Month and Giving Tuesday closed on a high note this year. So many of you put in the time to learn and share about Indigenous culture and issues and discover the truth about Native history. Your generosity for #GivingTuesday means Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) will now be able to bring warm clothing to nearly 1,300 people on the reservations this winter, removing the need to choose between food and warmth. As we all turn our attention toward the holiday season, we hope you will continue to remember Native Americans during this crucial time of year.  

Northern Plains Reservation Aid, a program of PWNA, helps our reservation partners boost engagement and hope during the holidays when families and children may be feeling more disenfranchisement than usual. Native Americans living on remote reservations of the Northern Plains struggle daily with geographic isolation, limited employment opportunities, and a harsh and resource-poor environment. Poverty is common and weighs heavily on the Elders, children, and families.

But good news, this is where you can make a big difference for the holidays. The children aren’t asking for much – a doll or stuffed animal, a ball and bat, or anything at all. We need your help to fill their stockings with toys and practical items such as activity books, toothbrushes and toothpaste, gloves and socks – or to fill Elder’s gift bags with items such as toiletries, socks, flashlights and blankets. It means so much just to know they were remembered. We also need help to provide sufficient food for a few reservation programs to host community meals, which will be served with safe distancing for COVID.

If you’re wondering how Native people celebrate Christmas, here’s a bit of history. Indigenous people were introduced to Christianity more than 400 years ago. The “story of Christmas and Christ’s birth fulfilled tribal prophecies” and its message was “consistent with stories handed down by their ancestors.” Today, Native Americans are celebrating in different ways. Many tribes have traditions such as Christmas carols in their own language, powwows, gift-giving and cooking Native traditional foods. It is a time to create memories with loved ones, reaffirm their Native cultures and connect with their communities.

This year, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and its new variants makes celebrating Christmas together less feasible for some Native families. Some will be unable to travel home to their reservations for the holidays. Large gatherings are still discouraged and there’s a sadness that many Elders have passed away during the pandemic, not to mention the year-round struggles.  

So, while many Americans will be warm and well-fed with their families over the holidays, many Native families will not. We’re hoping you will help us change this with a Christmas donation for Native communities.

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