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Honoring Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrated in the U.S. on Oct. 10, 2022, offers an opportunity to honor and celebrate Indigenous peoples, and their invaluable contributions, leadership and unwavering perseverance. The contributions that Indigenous people have made since time immemorial, bringing together traditional ways and innovation, are essential to an equitable and just society. 

It’s a day to honor and recognize the strength of generations of Indigenous people who have survived traumatic colonization, genocide and federal policies that have forced the assimilation of Native people and eradication of Native cultures and peoples. It’s a time for great respect and sadness for acknowledging and remembering the murdered and missing Indigenous women, Indigenous children who were kidnapped and stripped of their cultural ways and lives at boarding schools, and those who survived and persisted to revitalize Indigenous cultures, ways and languages for their children despite suffering immense oppression. 

It’s a day to stand with Indigenous families, friends, communities and partners and commit to supporting an equitable future for all children and families of Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities — to build a future that honors their identities, upholds their inherent sovereignty and self-governance, empowers the preservation of their languages and cultural traditions and respects the human rights of all Indigenous peoples around the world.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) offices were closed in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Staff were encouraged to recognize Indigenous peoples by honoring the stories, histories, contributions and the ongoing efforts of Indigenous peoples and communities to create a more equitable future for children and families.

During a recent virtual all-staff gathering, president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron shared a land acknowledgement, which she characterized as an “act of peace” and affirmation that “the land connects us to our collective humanity.”

Montgomery Tabron mentioned the ancestral lands of the Peoria, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples from Battle Creek, Mich., home of WKKF. She also honored the “African Americans and Native People” of Battle Creek who during the time of the Underground Railroad “worked together to aid and support a freedom seeker’s journey through physical lands and bodies of water that had been taken care of by Indigenous communities for hundreds of years.” She reminded staff that the foundation’s headquarters sits on the site of an Underground Railroad station.

Alana White, Michigan-based program officer and co-lead of WKKF’s Indigenous People’s Coalition staff affinity group, closed the all-staff gathering with a reminder that, “Our celebration of Indigenous People’s Day or Native American Heritage month is not just one day or one month. Structural racism and colonialism are ongoing. Inequitable systems continue to shape this process and these inequitable systems do not change themselves. They were created by people, which means as people, we need to change ourselves in order to change inequitable systems.”

Both White and Theresa Watson, New Mexico-based program officer, co-lead of WKKF’s Indigenous People’s Coalition and member of the Navajo Nation, have published written tributes to their ancestors as part of their journeys of racial healing. White offered a poem that reflects on being descended from “a triad of bloodlines that converged on American soil,” those who perpetuated colonization and enslavement and those who suffered from them. Watson shared this letter about what she learned from her mother, grandmother and the women who came before her. 

Today, the work ahead is about honoring the truth, understanding our shared histories, and determining how to stand in solidarity with all people, families and children as part of an ongoing commitment to dismantle the legacies of structural racism and colonization.

Learn how securing land rights is critical for strengthening social, economic and political power across countries like Mexico and Brazil. The Indian Law Resource Center and its partners  – awarded one of five Racial Equity 2030 grants over the next eight years – is on the front lines to formally address land ownership rights for Indigenous people.

Join in support of Indigenous peoples and learn more from the following stories, that honor their work, knowledge, wisdom and endurance:

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