Indigenous People’s Day Brings Visibility and Sense of Belonging

6a1a1f647eOn Monday, October 9, the Native American Initiative (NAI), Nuestra Casa, and their partners celebrated Indigenous People’s Day. In this inaugural East Palo Alto Indigenous People’s Day event, approximately 80 guests joined the organizers in celebrating and learning about indigenous healing practices and views of wellness.

While the event was enjoyed by all attendees, the acknowledgement of Indigenous People’s Day is controversial for many Americans. Though the documented atrocities of Columbus’s landing are hard to deny, many feel that Columbus paved the way for the United States of America to exist which is itself worthy of celebration. The Native American Initiative has welcomed conversation on this topic. Last year, BHRS teams invited the NAI to join staff meetings and discuss the importance of indigenous experiences and acknowledging Indigenous People’s Day. What began as controversy became an opportunity for exchange and shared understanding.

Bringing people together to celebrate our County’s indigenous community specifically has two benefits: 1) learning and respecting other cultures and 2) finding a sense of belonging. When we understand and respect where others are coming from, we can be a more supportive and engaged community overall. Learning about other cultures or people helps us meet people where they are rather than expecting them to adapt to our ways of seeing things.

Relatedly, a sense of belonging is important for good mental health. “Finding your people”—having a strong sense of community—can help individuals feel safer and more stable, leading to less stress and better mental health experiences. When we help people find that sense of community, we improve community mental health.

As we recognize the contributions indigenous people have made and continue to make to the United States, the Office of Diversity & Equity looks forward to more community conversations and explorations about identity.

To learn how to become a part of these conversations, get involved with the Native American Initiative. Visit here for more info.

We thank our partner Nuestra Casa for their hard work in building civic participation this Monday and all year. For more information about Nuestra Casa visit here.

Written by Briana Evans, Office of Diversity & Equity