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#MentalHealthCheck

Global mental health in the time of COVID-19 - Harvard Health Blog -  Harvard Health Publishing
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hello World! I know that I had said that I was going to post regularly for Native American Heritage Month, but life got in the way, and I needed to step away from this blog for the sake of my well being. I hope you guys understand! Of course I will try to finish the rest of the posts, but they will be more sporadic as school consumes my life.

This past week was Thanksgiving, and I know how emotionally complicated this holiday can be for people. So, I wanted to come on here and say everything you are feeling at this time is valid and that you are loved. Difficult thoughts and feelings are part of being human and do not take away from your value. No one is perfect. You should not feel pressured to be perfect. What’s important is you! You are a living, breathing human that has traits that make you unique and should be embraced! You are important. You matter. Thank you for being you!

Below, I have listed some ways you can practice self-care during this time!

  1. Step outside for some fresh air!
  2. Listen to a song that makes you smile! One of my favorite songs is Renee by SALES.
  3. Check in with yourself! Ask yourself how are you feeling, what do you need, and reflect on yourself
  4. Put yourself first
  5. Cut off any toxic relationships
  6. Say no to the things you don’t want to do
  7. Ask for help
  8. Do something that you enjoy! What makes you happy?

Here’s a little frog tiktok that might make you smile 🙂

@tootymcnooty

Here are some Phrogs to make your day better! Some of the backgrounds are done by the amazing @copicmechanism 🎺🐸💕

♬ Renee – Sales

MARIA TALLCHIEF

Maria Tallchief | American dancer | Britannica
Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief (1925-2013)

Above all, I wanted to be appreciated as a prima ballerina who happened to be a Native American, never as someone who was an American Indian ballerina

Maria Tallchief

Born in Fairfax, Oklahoma on an Osage Indian reservation, Maria Tallchief (born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief) and her sister, Marjorie, began dancing as children and both would later find themselves dancing on stage. As her career began, many tried to persuade Tallchief to change her last name so that dance companies would not discriminate against her. Tallchief refused. Maria Tallchief’s life was permanently changed in 1948 when she became not only the first prima ballerina of Native American heritage of the New York City Ballet, but the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet. Tallchief’s role as the Sugarplum Fairy is also credited as one of the reasons that The Nutcracker is one of the most famous in the world. She helped break down ethnic barriers in the world of dance and was one of the first American ballet stars in a field long dominated by Russian and European dancers.

About the Quote

Maria Tallchief said that no matter where she performed, she wanted to be judged on the merits of her dancing alone. She believed that one should identify themselves by what they love rather than society’s preconceived notions.

Also, I wanted to include this google doodle which has more information about Tallchief coming from her family and other indigenous artists.

https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-maria-tallchief

HOW TO HONOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES THIS THANKSGIVING

Today is Thanksgiving. I hope all of you can celebrate with your family whether it be virtually or in person. Reminder: the virus does not stop just because it’s a holiday! This holiday can be emotionally complex as it is a day of mourning for Indigenous and First Nation Folks. Here are some ways we can honor Indigenous folks, disrupt erasure and tokenization, interrupt false narratives and move towards reparations.

  1. Decolonize your historical lens. Check out my last blog post or do your own research about the real history of Thanksgiving and the Wampanoag tribe
  2. Support Indigenous Business and Buy Indigenous Goods
  3. Verbally acknowledge the land you are on and which tribe inhabits it
  4. Raise awareness of the current disenfranchisement and racism facing Indigenous peoples to family and friends who may not be educated on the subject

If you want to check out some Indigenous artisans and artists, please check out @kinsalehues on Instagram! Her insta highlights have plenty of resources to support artists and her community. I have linked her account down below.

https://www.instagram.com/kinsalehues/

THE HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING

Growing up, one is always taught about the First Thanksgiving as a celebratory feast that the Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims to. After this, the pilgrims hand off America to white people so they can create a great nation dedicated to liberty, opportunity and Christianity for the rest of the world to profit. However, this story is riddled with historical inaccuracies.

The Native Americans that the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth met with were the Wampanoags. The pilgrims landed in 1620 and the chief (sachem) Ousamequin offered them an entente—a friendly understanding or informal alliance—as a way to protect the Wampanoags against their rivals, the Narragansetts. This was not because he wanted to be friends; he and his people had been decimated by an epidemic disease and the English would be able to help him fend off his tribal rebels.

Moreover, the arrival of the Mayflower is not the first instance of the Wampanoags coming into contact with Europeans. Prior, they had been in contact with Europeans, but not in a friendly way. This history involves slave raiding and violence.

The result of telling and retelling the false origin of Thanksgiving is deeply harmful to the Wampanoag Indians whose lives and society were forever damaged after the English arrived in Plymouth. Some adults have said that they remember sitting in school during Thanksgiving and feeling invisible. Not only their classes, but society in general was making light of the historical trauma which weighs around their neck. The traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relationships between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, concealing the long and bloody history of conflict between the Native Americans and European settlers.

For more information about the first Thanksgiving, please check out this article! In it, David Silverman discusses his book This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAIR IN NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE

Throughout Native American Culture, there are many teachings and practices that vary depending on location and culture. One of the many things important to Native Americans’ cultural identity is their hair. Hair is seen as an intimate extension of the self as well as a connection to the world. Long hair signifies a strong cultural identity in many tribes. One typically cuts their hear only if he or she has experienced a significant loss like the death of a family member, traumatic event or significant life change.

Furthermore, grooming another’s hair represents a nurturing bond between persons. The braid signifies the sacredness of relationships. Single strands of hair are weak when tugged on; however, when you pull all of the hair together in a braid, the hair is strong. This is a representation of the value of family and tribe along with the connection to all of creation.

Julian Brave Noisecat, a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen Nation says that he wears his hair long because it is “an expression of cultural and political pride and defiance against a brutal history of forced assimilation through boarding and residential schools where our grandparents were incarcerated, forced to cut their hair and become white. It’s a subtle way to flip the bird to the white men who tried to kill and assimilate our ancestors.”

Throughout history, there are numerous instances where indigenous persons face discrimination for their hairstyles. Indian boarding schools—institutions established in the early 20th century as a way to “kill the Indian and save the man”—were brought to schools and forced to assimilate into foreign culture and cut their hair and throw it away. To the Native Americans, throwing their hair away is a form of personal disrespect. Some cultures burn the hair with sage or sweet grass and their prayers rise with the smoke to the Creator. By throwing away the hair, the culture and value of everything the person had been taught was thrown away. Today, there are still instances where children are sent home from school because of their hair. Long hair shouldn’t be seen as a “rebel” act; it is a religious right.

Note: do not touch someone’s hair without permission!! Some might even find that asking permission is a form of disrespect.

UPDATE: NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

Hello World! November is coming to an end, and that means Native American Heritage Month is coming to an end. To celebrate this month, I will be posting daily about Native American culture, history, people, etc. so stay tuned!

This month is meant to, according to the Nation Congress of Native Americans, “celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.” My mission is to educate and celebrate Native Americans through my posts.

My Experience: Growing up, my school district covered Native American tribal land, so I went to school with members of the Oneida Nation. At my school, the language was offered as a “lunch-time class” where they were able to learn it during their lunch breaks. Like any language, these classes were not enough to make them fluent. It is crazy to me to think that Native American languages are rapidly dying out as a result of colonialism. As a child, I rejected my parents’ native language. Now, I wished I had learned it, and I assume that this feeling perpetuates throughout the world, no matter the culture.

WHO IS MARCUS GARVEY?

Marcus Garvey - Beliefs, Books & Death - Biography
Marcus Garvey; 1887-1940

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots

Marcus Garvey

Born in Saint Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, Marcus Garvey was a nationalist and leader of the Pan-Africanism movement which sought to unify and connect people of african descent worldwide. He founded the Negro World Newspaper, a shipping company called Black Star Line and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) which was a fraternal organization of black nationalists. This group advocated around the world to establish independent black states, most notably in Liberia on the west coast of Africa, and “separate but equal” status for persons of African ancestry.

As an adolescent, Garvey was a victim of racism especially from his white teachers in Jamaica. In addition, he had left his hometown (St. Ann’s Bay) for Kingston, the island nation’s capital where he worked as an apprentice in a print shop. While working there, Garvey became involved in the labor union for print tradesmen in Kingston which many attribute as Garvey’s first step in activism. Marcus Garvey was both a racial purist and a Black separatist. He believed that all black people should return to their rightful homeland Africa. This message is very controversial, and prominent activists like W.E.B. Du Bois referred to him as “the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and in the world.” Du Bois believed and hoped for a self-sustaining Black ecosystem within a predominantly white America.

To be honest, I do not know where I stand on Garvey and his ideals. On the one hand, I believe that there should be no distinction between cultures and one should intermingle with others. However, I do agree with some points in Garvey’s ideology where he denotes that he, as a black man, is the equal of any white man and that black is beautiful. If anyone has any thoughts on this, feel free to leave them in the comments!

WHO IS STACEY ABRAMS?

Stacey Abrams credited for boosting Democrats in Georgia
Stacey Abrams; picture credentials: gettyimages.com

If you were anything like me last week, you were on the edge of your seat waiting to hear results about the presidential election. In doing so, you, like me, were surprised to see Georgia, a traditionally red state shift from red to blue. This work can be accredited to Stacey Abrams and her team. In this recent election, a record of nearly 5 million Georgians voted. This number is nearly 1 million more than four years ago.

Stacey Abrams is Georgia’s former House Minority Leader. I, alongside many other Americans, had seen her last year giving the Democratic response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech in 2016. In 2018, Stacey Abrams ran for governor of Georgia against Brian Kemp, who was the then secretary of state. She lost by just 55,000 votes and attributed that loss to voter suppression in a state where the election was run by the opponent itself. The year before, the Republican-run state slashed nearly 670,000 voters from its rolls. Nearly 70% of those voters were black – a stark racial disparity since only 32% of Georgia’s population is black.

Since Abrams was 17, she has been fighting voter suppression. She said, “Politicians believe their way to preserve their power is to impede the ability of voters to be heard. And typically, they target people of color, young people, and they target the poor.” In one of my previous posts, I discussed voter suppression. By simply comparing polling areas in areas where the vast majority of people are minorities and/or are poor, one can see the great disparities in votes and access to voting between them and areas where the majority of people are white.

She did not give up after her loss. “She went straight to work to tear down barriers to the ballot, and build power for overlooked communities — both in Georgia and around the country,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She and the collective efforts of Fair Fight and the New Georgia Project helped register 800,000 new Georgia voters, mostly in communities of color. They would go door-to-door in pockets of communities that had never been touched and would ask them if they were registered voters and if their loved ones/neighbors were also. Her work doesn’t stop in Georgia. Fair Fight also helped Biden win in Wisconsin and other key swing states this year.

Now, she is preparing for the Georgia run-off elections which will decide which party controls the Senate. Democratic candidates Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are competing against incumbents Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. If you live in Georgia, you have until December 7th to register to vote in the runoff! The link to register to vote is here. Also, a reminder to the younger people in Georgia, if you will turn 18 before January 5, 2021, you can register to vote in the runoff! Again, please register and VOTE!

VOTE VOTE VOTE!

Heading to the Polls on Election Day in Chicago? Here's Everything You Need  To Know | Chicago News | WTTW
VOTE 2020

Tomorrow, November 3rd, 2020, is Election Day, so please vote! Tomorrow is the last day. Please make sure to bring all necessary information such as a photo ID like your driver’s license or a passport. This event will include voting for president and vice-president, 1/3 of the Senate, and all of the House of Representatives. State and local elections will also be on the ballot in many areas.

Federal elections take place every two years, on even-numbered years. State and local elections can occur at other times throughout the year. This includes primary and special elections. Check with your state or local election office or the U.S. Vote Foundation for elections coming up in your area and to see if you can vote early or by absentee ballot.

You are not only voting for a president. You are also voting for your representative and for your senators!

Also, I wanted to remind everyone that every vote counts! There have been many instances where just a few votes yielded a significant difference. For example, in 2017, a Virginia House of Delegates races ended in a tie out of more than 23,000 votes cast. This tie was broken by pulling a name, placed in a film canister, out of a bowl. Republican David Yancey was declared the winner that night. This result was significant as this win gave Republicans control of the state House by the single seat. In 2016, a Vermont state Senate Democratic primary was determined by a single vote out of more than 7,400 cast.

I have attached a good resource that might help if you have any more questions about voting on Election Day!

https://www.usa.gov/election-day

powerful speech about police brutality

Hello! I know this isn’t my usual day to post, but I wanted to share with you a post that I saw on my Instagram feed today. This video, posted by Columbia University, shares one man’s take and reflection on his experiences as a black man in a world of police brutality. His name is Marquavious Moore. His words are extremely powerful and shine a light on police brutality and white privilege when it comes to the police. I hope you take the time to listen and reflect on this!