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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Meyer, MT-BC

Indigenous Peoples' Day 2020

Art by Indigenous artist Ernesto Yerena and photographer Arlene Mejorado. Model is Shalene Joseph from the Native Wellness Institute.

"This piece is being released on Indigenous Peoples' Day to celebrate the power, resilience and strength of Native women." -Art and information from Illumnatives


On Monday, October 12th, many communities in the U.S. celebrate the holiday known as Indigenous Peoples' Day. It was only last year that Minnesota made it an official holiday, as other states and cities did the same. There is hopefulness and pride in a holiday honoring the Indigenous and Native people that enrich our society, but there is also much to learn and harmful stereotypes and racism to dismantle.

Throughout this week, I have been keeping my eyes, mind and ears open to be a learner for the many Native stories that have been elevated in media because of the holiday. One incredible organization I learned about, Illuminatives, has provided me with eye-opening information that not only includes statistics and research but also powerful testimonies and stories of Native individuals in our country.

"There are approximately 6.8 million Americans that identify as Native American, approximately 2% of the population"

"Native people rank at or near the bottom of most socio-economic indicators"

The problem of "invisibility" is large, as less than 0.5% of mainstream TV includes Native representation

95% of the first 100 photos on Google portray black and white, pre-1900's photos of Native Americans. It's as if they are "frozen in time."

Information from:

At Keynote Music Therapy, we know the power music has to elevate voices and create social change. It is our job to be lifelong listeners to other peoples' experiences and creative expression. With that, we are listening to some of these incredible Native and Indigenous artists....

Arigon Starr has mastered many genres- from country to folk to rock. All while weaving in Native stories, history and the dismantling of stereotypes through the lyrics.

This family punk band named their group after the Navajo (Dine') word "Sihasin" meaning "to think with hope and assurance." This song is a powerful ballad highlighting many women in our country's history that have fought for change.

A more traditional style of Native music includes drumming, often seen at ceremonies such as powwows

Frank Waln uses rap and hip-hop styles to tell his story as a Native American youth. He is also a fierce advocate for mainstreaming Native hip-hop music.

Take a listen. Learn something new. See where you can elevate Native voices in your community. And go forth with kindness.


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