Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

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Honoring Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. As we pay tribute to the first people of our nation, we give pause to their personal legacy and the legacy of our country. At Great Western Bank we embrace the richness of all cultures and support the unique identities of our employees. Within our footprint, we acknowledge the presence of 46 federally recognized tribes and celebrate the employees that carry the culture. Tachara Salazar is a GWB employee from Louisville, Colorado whose tribal affiliation is from Taos Pueblo and Santa Ana Pueblo. To promote efficacy and pay tribute to the American Indigenous community, Tachara shares simple actions we can take to make a large impact, no matter our generational or cultural origins.

Tachara Salazar, GWB Personal Banker:

Today there are over 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. This information isn’t widely known or taught and a prime reason why efforts to learn about American history should be culturally inclusive.

There are several ways to honor the first people of this nation, one being a Land Acknowledgment. If you’re wondering why this is important; or even, if you’re unfamiliar with what it is, an Indigenous land acknowledgement is an acknowledgement that the land we work, learn, and live on is the ancestral territory of indigenous people. And that ultimately, the land provides exposure and learning opportunities for individuals; giving respect to the tribes that have, and continue to live on, the land. The act of acknowledging indigenous peoples who occupied the land prior to the immigration of European people, is a transformative act, and one that seeks to undo the intentional erasure of indigenous peoples. Please consider checking out who originally resided in your city or town. https://native-land.ca/

Another opportunity to honor Native American people this month, and throughout the year, is by supporting Native people economically. Here are a few ways to help:

  • Enjoy Native American jewelry? Buy your pieces direct from a Native person or business. As a cautionary tale, there are galleries and shops that resell Native American jewelry with profits going direct to the shop owners. Also, there are sites falsely claiming Native American artists crafted the jewelry, when in fact they did not. It’s important our Native art forms maintain cultural integrity and why it’s important that jewelry isn’t mass produced, and truly made by Native people.

  • If you hold interest in making an impact on human, land, and water rights, consider making a contribution to tribal law firms or associations who donate grant money to preserve natural resources, cared for and cultivated by Native people. Native American Rights Fund has made a huge impact on Native Peoples Rights for over 50 years, and a way to offer monetary support.

  • Help impact the devastating acts of Indian Boarding Schools by supporting The National Indian Child Welfare Act (NICWA). NICWA is an organization that keeps families and cultural values within tribal peoples intact.

  • If you want to support from a local level, identify the tribes within your local footprint. Some tribes maintain agricultural business, casinos, and resorts that provide sustainability and developmental progress for their tribes. Another way is to check out what programs are supported from a collegiate level. For example, University of Colorado Boulder (CU) has their own Center for Native American & Indigenous Studies (CNAIS) which supports accurate histories, language preservation, and education, from a global perspective.

  • Interested in helping bring authentic, Native voices to light? Consider donating to IllumiNative. The research IllumiNative has, and continues to conduct, presents contemporary facts and information about Native people and the perceptions of Native American people today. Their work is pivotal in giving real voice to Native Americans without the antiquation of history books, or the inaccuracies conveyed through the media. Their research is comparable to none, in how they’re bringing Native voices to light.

As a proud Native American woman, working for a wonderful company, I ask that you join me in solidarity as we honor the many indigenous nations – together, let’s make an impact by recognizing our American history by choosing to start with Native American People this November, and throughout the year.

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