Many look forward to the month of November for Thanksgiving, the day many Americans celebrate the Natives of North America giving Pilgrims the means to survive the hard winter ahead. What did the Pilgrims bring to the Natives, though? November is Native American Heritage Month, lending time to open up further dialogue on the oppression of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, who face racism similar to and different from other minority groups within the United States. According to Algernon Austin of the Economic Policy Institute, “forced cultural assimilation” as well as “political and economic subjugation” produce “tremendous cultural damage” as well as poverty.
Sande Tisdale is a member of the Cherokee Tribe.
The daughter of a direct descendant of the Trail of Tears Natives and member of the Cherokee Tribe, Sande Tisdale, describes seeing this poverty and cultural damage within Stilwell, Oklahoma, the community her Cherokee father grew up in, by way of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as low education levels and high unemployment rates.