Centering Indigenous Voices

For April’s Equity Resource, Deb White Soulen, Tangletown resident, suggested we listen to our Indigenous neighbors/community, who are often forgotten in conversations about anti-racism (and about many things). “Indigenous folx have been made invisible by our mainstream accounts of history and by the media. Centering Indigenous stories–told by Indigenous folks about their own experiences from their perspectives, not about Indignenous folx written by white folx–is an act of anti-racism.”  

Deb suggests visiting Birchbark Books in the Kenwood neighborhood for Native-written/created/produced resources. Birchbark Books is owned by Louise Erdrich, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and a prolific award-winning author.

Deb also recommends the following: Braiding Sweetgrass, by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a powerful piece that weaves Indigenous ways of knowing with mainstream scientific methods to transform environmental conversations, while introducing readers to Indigenous philosophy, stories, practices and communities. Dr. Wall Kimmerer is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a decorated professor.

Many traditional Indigenous cultures center the oral tradition over the written word, so Deb encourages people to look into oral storytelling. In the digital storytelling project, OrigiNatives, local Native folx share their stories on screen in their own words. The stories are told by our neighbors–Indigenous people who live on the land currently called Minnesota. OrigiNatives was created by Dr. Jill Fish, a member of the Tuscarora Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and a graduate of the PhD Clinical Psychology program at the University of Minnesota. You can read more on the “about” page of the website, or just dive into the recordings here.

And teens and young adults might prefer stories of fiction. Author Cherie Dimaline, a member of the Metis Nation of Ontario, wrote The Marrow Thieves, and its continuation, Hunting by the Stars. The story is set in a dystopian future where Indigenous folks are hunted for their ability to dream. It is a powerful way to introduce folks to historical trauma and community resilience without cracking a history book:

If you want to contribute to organizations that support Native communities, these are a place to start:

Mending the Sacred Hoop (Ending Violence Against Native Women):

Indian Land Tenure Foundation (Land Back org):

Nawayee Center School (Indigenous-grounded 7-12 school):  

Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center:

Dakota Wicohan (revitalizing the Minnesota Dakota language): or another Native language revitalization program