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March was National Women’s Month

By Sister Patrice Colletti, SDS
Kateri Initiative – Sisseton, South Dakota

One of the many things I love about teaching is being immersed in mini-celebrations of “national/ international- whatever month/day/week.” 

Just in March, we’ve got: National Invasive Species Awareness Week…. International Waffle Day….  National Noodle Month…  National Banana Cream Pie Day… National Introverts Week… National Button Week… and a personal favorite, National Oreo Cookie Day (March 6, in case you’re thinking of sending some nice Double Stuff Oreos out to South Dakota for some reason….)

March is also National Women’s History Month. And, this March made history among the Indigenous peoples of North America, as Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) was confirmed as the very first Native woman to head the Department of the Interior. You might, or might not, have been aware of that. Out here in Indian Country, it’s a Really Big Deal. 

[This article explains a bit about why this is so transformational. It is transformational enough that it has been circling in daily conversations, among tribal adults and teens especially. Even one of my third grade girls knew exactly why I put “Who is Deb Haaland and why should we be excited?” on the whiteboard in our classroom.] 

“Deb Haaland’s secretary of the Interior confirmation is transformational for Native people. Finally, a leader who can help Americans understand that we are human beings—not caricatures or mascots. We aren’t a peoples that don’t exist anymore. We are here.”

“We are here.”

This past weekend, I enjoyed a visit with a friend, Nancy, whom I have known for more than 35 years. She’s just a few years older than I am, and was one of the first tribal members I got to know when I came to the Lake Traverse Reservation as a college junior. Over breakfast, I’d asked her what her thoughts were relative to reparations for Native peoples. It was a powerful conversation (which I’ll share another time).

“The real issue is being forced to be invisible,” she said. “Our story does not get told. The truth is not told … 500+ years of human history is being ignored … on purpose … by those with power,” she explained. 

From NY Times Article found here including
an explanation of the significance 
of the ribbon skirt.

That’s one reason why history is made when a person who is both a woman and a tribal member becomes part of the power structure and promises to give voice to the realities of Native peoples.

It really is an historical moment. And, at a time in our world where there is so much despair, contention, anger, fear and polarization, it is also a sign of hope.

Our Rez needs that hope … so does our world.

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