The First People
Written by MJ Reporter Willow LaMunyon
Native American heritage is more than the past. Native America is alive and progressing. No matter where our DNA says our ancestors came from, all of us can take pride in what people of our many nationalities have done to contribute to the best of this country. But the people who were first on this land need to be heard and appreciated. Here is a site that shows some of the many contributions that the indigenous people of this country have done to make our lives better https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolefisher/2020/11/29/7-native-american-inventions-that-revolutionized-medicine-and-public-health/?sh=687a42431e73
Unless you are Native, all the land we live on is part of the heart of The First People, and no matter where in America you live, it is American Indian land. You can find out who first lived on the land where you live now and honor it. To find out whose land you occupy, here is a map where you can enter your city, and it will let you know whose land you live on and provide links so you can learn more about it. https://native-land.ca/resources/teachers-guide/
I was once told that someone lightly saying they are part Cherokee is an inside joke because people of the Cherokee Nation are noted for their beauty, so they are often the tribe of choice. It is a good idea not to speak flippantly about one's ancestry.
Traditional American Clothing is not called a costume but is referred to as regalia. Pieces of regalia are often family heirlooms and treasured as such. The feathers in headdresses and fans are especially sacred, some of which are only allowed to be owned by those native to this land. With this in mind, it is easier for us to understand the reason sports teams using imitation native regalia as mascot costumes, children wearing Halloween costumes pretending to be American Indian, or any other way in which a person misuses regalia is indeed offensive exactly as it would be to any of us if the things we hold sacred were used in the same way.
Since I am not Native American, writing the last couple of articles has been a learning experience for me that will not stop at the end of November.
There is no way I can know what it is like to be anything other than my own nationality, whatever that is. I want to be clear that I am not trying to represent the life and heart of the first people of this nation but to pass along to the best of my ability what I have heard and read from those who live the experience of being native.