November is Native American Heritage Month - This year, Encompass honored Friday, November 25 as "Native American Heritage Day,” by observing the full day as an agency holiday. Encompass made this commitment because we believe that observing the Thanksgiving holiday with no acknowledgement of the intolerance, conflict, and oppression that is deeply rooted in its history – and in the history of our nation – is actively perpetuating oppression. Renaming and observing the day after Thanksgiving is a small step we can take as an agency to call out injustice.
Simply put, Encompass is committed to listening deeply, bearing witness, and *taking action* toward racial equity at every level of our organization. We want to deeply appreciate Encompass’s Racial Equity Workgroup for strongly advocating for this holiday and for their ongoing work to drive agency-wide change.
Native American Heritage Month is just one opportunity to seek out information and resources that honor, celebrate, and uplift the perspectives and contributions of Native American communities that have long been overshadowed. In fact, the whole month of November is National American Heritage Month and there are many local resources and nonprofits who are dedicating time and space to honor Native peoples. Here are just a few local efforts and resources compiled with the support of our Racial Equity Workgroup that are available to you to deepen your learning and understanding.
Santa Cruz Public Libraries is celebrating Native American Heritage Month by compiling and showcasing a host of resources that educate the general public about tribes, raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and increase awareness of the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges. They have also coordinated a “story walk” which takes visitors on a unique journey through downtown Santa Cruz to learn about the Mission experience through the eyes and ears of the Amah Mutsun people and the animals who lived here.
Rise Together Santa Cruz County, an intercultural coalition of 32 members, led by People of Color and working collaboratively to advance racial equity in Santa Cruz County, shared a powerful statement about the history of the Native peoples in our County and spotlighted how theAmah Mutsun Land Trust is working to restore traditional land stewardship to these lands to ensure the ancestors of both the Awaswas and Mutsun speaking ancestors are honored and never forgotten.
- San Jose Public Libraries is also featuring a host of educational resources to celebrate Native peoples and their history, including these reading recommendations for children for Native American Heritage Month and recordings of live storytellings.