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Friday, October 12, 2007

What I Have Learned About Being an Ally to Native Americans

By Elli Stern and Claudia A. Fox Tree
First presented at the 12th Annual New England NAME Conference on Multicultural Education; Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, CT on 10/11/07 (updated 10/27/07)

PREMISE - Unacknowledged cultural differences can lead to conflict, misunderstandings, stereotypes, prejudice, and racism.

1. To listen to, believe in, and learn from the experiences of Native people in both the past and in the present AND to not misunderstand their passion and commitment for anger when they are sharing their culture and stories.

2. To acknowledge my privilege as a white person and that I am not subjected to the same oppression, marginalization and discrimination as Native Americans AND to accept my responsibility to use my privilege and be a "voice" in places where the voice of Native Americans is silenced or goes unheard.

3. To recognize the impact of social and cultural dominance as well as the historical legacy of efforts to exterminate and/or assimilate Native Americans AND to continue to remind others of the oppression Native Americans are subjected to whether by intent or not.

4. To develop and maintain a high "race radar" detector to recognize examples of racism and oppression against Native Americans AND to move beyond “guilt” when I miss something that I could have noticed.

5. To acknowledge that I have absorbed and learned inaccurate information and need to relearn an authentic Native American story AND to keep educating myself so I can better educate others and not give up when people resist understanding these issues.

6. To remember that I still “collude" and that I need to be conscious and intentional in my efforts to be an ally AND that I am a work in progress.