“Yá'át'ééh relatives and friends, the month of November is a precious time to honor the histories and sacrifices of my people - Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. It is a time to acknowledge the diverse cultures and traditions of the first inhabitants of this country. It is a time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of enduring tribal nations. It is a time to celebrate our existence. It is a time to share, to teach truth, and to impart what has been forgotten, what has never been taught, and what should be taught. It is an opportunity to learn and discover the fundamentals of our survival, adaptability, reality, and presence.
This month provides an opportunity to make a commitment to be a good ancestor – stewarding the way forward in health and healing. As we plan for healthy future generations, we need to commit to protect and care for our precious planet and in return our Mother Earth and Father Sky will protect and care for us. Remember our present is a gift of the future.
As an individual or an entity, make a commitment to meet challenges with gratitude and live with an expectation to improve the lives of those around you. Live #OnPurpose and take action to help strategize towards collective protection, collective action, and collective empowerment. It is time to re-prioritize, re-evaluate, and re-engage or simply begin to engage in what matters most – our health and well-being.
Our ancestors endured and persevered so we could exist today, not only to survive, but indeed, thrive. Therefore, our relationship with the environment and nature is a responsibility that we need to value and embrace. Together with our seeds, stories, and songs, we honor our Indigenous lifeways, our Indigenous foods and food heritage.
Together across Indian Country, health is our priority. Tribal communities are creating and reclaiming healing modalities and activities towards healthy lifestyles and simultaneously addressing the epidemics and injustices caused by colonization, systemic oppression, nutritional trauma, and practices of exclusion, trauma, and violence.
In this season, we gather to acknowledge our existence with dignity, strength, and courage…and with delicious, healthful, homemade Indigenous foods and teas.
I invite you to join me in advocating for heart-healthy tribal citizens. Looking forward, I see future Indigenous generations, living longer healthy lives with meaning, depth, and purpose.
Every day make the choice to do what Grandma has been leading us to do – live healthier strong lives. Let’s stand in health solidarity of healthful and nutritious food and water as life, ch’íyáán yá’át’éhégí dóó tó éí ííná át’é.
Live a life to inspire others. Be a protector of biodiversity and a champion of healthy change. Make this National Native American Heritage Month a life-changing one. Ahéhee'.”
--Denisa Livingston, M.P.H., (Diné), DCAA Organizer, Slow Food International Councilor of the Global North, UNFSS Appointed Champion, Ashoka Fellow @PrincesseDenisa