We’re building a movement where all Americans hear contemporary Native voices, stories and issues and are empowered with accurate Native history, knowledge of the contributions of Native peoples, and information about modern injustices committed against Native peoples. We’re re-educating Americans about Native people- for too long, many Americans have been given little to no knowledge of Native history or have been taught inaccurate information. This lack of knowledge has contributed to the invisibility of Native Americans in mainstream culture. Invisibility creates a void that is filled with toxic and negative stereotypes have been perpetuated and institutionalized by K-12, pop culture, media and other sectors. These harmful stereotypes have been used to justify racist campaigns and slurs, build pipelines on sacred lands, and pass policies that negatively impact our sovereignty and our communities.
To push for the systematic change we need, now and for the future, we need to build a movement of many movements to change the story about Native Americans. We must move hearts and minds, and change the way people and institutions think about, and engage with, Native peoples. By changing the story, we will positively impact our youth, communities, tribal nations, fight racism, and support long-term policy changes.
Everyone has a role in Be IllumiNative. We need Natives and non-Native allies to join this movement and push for local and national change. The Be IllumiNative campaign is a call to action and a catalyst for allies to engage in advocacy-whether through individual actions, through community engagement and organizing, or advocating in your community, state, or to national representatives.
Be IllumiNative is a challenge to our allies to use their platforms and their voices to uplift examples of Native excellence and work to end erasure and invisibility of Native people. Our advocates, allies, leaders, students, and communities are a critical to uplifting authentic, accurate, and contemporary stories of Native communities.
Every month, we’ll release a new project that is part of the campaign.
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native american heritage month
During Native American Heritage Month, we’re highlighting the work of Native comedian Joey Clift (Cowlitz Indian Tribe)! His award winning animated short, “Telling People You’re Native American When You’re Not Native Is A lot Like Telling a Bear You’re a Bear When You’re Not a Bear” uses humor to highlight conversations many Native people are forced to have. During the month of November, we’ll continue to highlight stories of Native people today. Be sure to check back as we celebrate Native communities!
Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day fights the invisibility that impacts Natives communities— it is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Native peoples, our resiliency and our future, in the present. With funding from Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association, IllumiNative developed a toolkit for allies and advocates that draws on the lessons and research we have about our experiences and what we have learned from Native advocates who are on the frontlines fighting for change. In this toolkit, you will find case studies, key questions and answers, messages, a comprehensive how-to-guides on advocating to your representative and building a coalition, and more. While this toolkit is not exhaustive, it can serve as a foundation to support advocates and allies in their work.
Native American voices and perspectives are often missing when discussing issues that impact Native land. To fight this invisibility of Native peoples, Paramount Network and Yellowstone partnered with IllumiNative to share the story of the Fort Belknap Indian Community’s fight against the pipeline that threatens their land, water, and culture. The tribe, along with the Native American Right’s Fund (NARF), have filed to stop the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Join Gil Birmingham from Yellowstone, as he meets and learns from the tribal leaders and changemakers who are fighting for more than their tribe- they are fighting for all of us.