Tag Archives: Native American Initiative

Native American Heritage Month: The Power of Visibility

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This November, the Office of Diversity and Equity celebrates Native American Heritage Month (NAHM).

With Thanksgiving, a holiday known to be controversial for Native American history, just around the corner, visibility of Native Americans during this month is particularly important. NAHM recognizes the contributions that native peoples have made for our community. It is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of our local tribes and also educate ourselves about the challenges Native people have faced and currently face, including health disparities.

Native Americans face a large number of behavioral health challenges, including suicide risk. Across all ages, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/ AN) populations in the U.S. experience high risk for suicide, with an overall suicide rate of 11.7 individuals per 100,000. This rate is greater than that for all other subgroups except white males, who have a suicide rate of 23.4 individuals per 100,000. Source

The existence of Native American Heritage Month alone does not have the capability to improve the lives or health outcomes of Native Americans living in San Mateo County. We as individuals and as a community must make an active effort to celebrate Native American achievements and educate ourselves about current challenges to make the month meaningful.
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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.

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