Friday, November 27, 2020

November is Native American Heritage Month

      Today, the day after Thanksgiving, is Native American Heritage Day -- a November event that was proclaimed in 2009 by President Obama and is part of Native American Indian Heritage Month (established in 1990 by President Bush.)  The disregard with which native Americans have been treated over many years has created huge wounds that will take long to heal.  Both mathematics and poetry can help to support justice and truth!  At present, the US Poet Laureate is Joy Harjo of the Muskogee Nation -- and Harjo is active in using the educational and healing powers of poetry.   Here is a link to some lines from Harjo's "Becoming Seventy" -- posted in this blog back in 2019.

     The website helps us to celebrate Native American Heritage Month with a collection of poetic resources found at this link.  One of the poems offered -- which makes effective use of numbers in describing difficult situations -- is "Housing Conditions of One Hundred Fifty Chippewa Families" by Kimberly Blaeser.  I offer a few lines of that poem below -- followed by a link to the entire poem. 

from  Housing Conditions 
            of One Hundred Fifty Chippewa Families   by Kimberly Blaeser

 . . .  you counted each one—
        seventy-one tar-paper shacks,
        eight united states rehabilitation houses
        two wigwams
        bark houses at rice camps—

        you graphed
        measured dimensions
        calculated cubic air space
        enumerated every construction detail—
        23 with broken windows;
        99 without foundations, buildings
        resting on the ground;
        98 with stove pipes for chimneys.

        house, dwelling, place, structure—
        home.  . . . 

Kimberly Blaeser's complete poem is available here.   

And a bit more news about the downside of "Thanksgiving":  Yesterday, November 26, was the 51st National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA as participants gathered to counter Thanksgiving celebrations with remembrance of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and ongoing ignorance of native culture.

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