Indigenous People’s Day: A Reflection

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As we honor Indigenous People’s Day, we begin with an important acknowledgement:

We acknowledge and honor the fact that Orange County is located on the traditional and unceded lands and waters of the Acjachemen and Tongva Tribal Nations. Land acknowledgments allow us to reconsider practices of power and privilege. They allow us to unveil histories that aren’t shared in contemporary educational systems while uplifting the experiences and visibility of Native peoples.

We respectfully recognize our responsibility to the original and current caretakers of the land, air and water; we recognize the Acjachamen and Tongva Tribal Nations, and all of their ancestors and descendants — past, present and future. As we work in partnership with Tribal members we hope that our collaborative work will uplift the voices and spirits of everyone dedicated to the protection of our community.

Yesterday, October 10th, in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our nation paused to acknowledge and celebrate the strengths, histories, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples. The journey to recognizing this day has not been a short one and in fact, only last year was officially recognized as a day of observance by the President. 

Recognition of the second Monday in October as “Indigenous People’s Day” was initially proposed in the 1970’s during a United Nations Conference. In 1992, the City of Berkeley abolished Columbus Day and officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In 2019, Governor Newsom issued a proclamation officially recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The proclamation honors and celebrates the “perseverance, rich diversity and contributions of all Indigenous peoples from the first peoples of this place to those from across the globe who now call California home.”  

One of the eight goals identified in the recently adopted Orange County Grantmakers Strategic Plan is to engage with Native Nations.  One of the first steps we’ve taken is the inclusion of Indigenous speakers from Native Nations in Southern California on multiple panels at our Breaking Breaking Barriers: Partnership, Power Sharing & the Collective Good Summit.  Tongva, Chumash and Acjachemem community members raised awareness about local Indigenous perspectives on topics including Language Justice, Social Justice, Land Rematriation and Land Use Planning.

This year, in honor of Indigenous People’s Day, we are thrilled to share our commitment to partnership and dialogue. We invite you to find ways to celebrate and recognize Indigenous People’s Day in your own community. This could include participating in a local event or supporting and highlighting Indigenous-led nonprofits and organizations.

Celebrating and acknowledging Indigenous People’s impact in our community on October 10th is a start. To have true impact however, we know that long-term support is needed. We invite you to be a part of our shared journey. 

To learn more and for ways to give:

What Are Land Acknowledgements And Why Do We Do Them

Native Land Acknowledgements Are Not The Same As Land

Our Sacred Waters: Theorizing Kuuyam as a Decolonial Possibility

Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples

Acjachemen Tongva Land Conservancy

Journeys to the Past

Cathleen Otero
Orange County Community Foundation

Taryn Palumbo

Orange County Grantmakers

More To Explore

How do we build a compassionate and inclusive America in an age of distrust? WAJAHAT ALI knows from personal experience that when we come together to be the superheroes of our own stories, we can create honest social change. The beloved TED speaker has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic about our urgent issues—immigration, politics, parenthood—with boldness, hope, and humor. His memoir Go Back to Where You Came From, one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, follows his life as a Muslim Pakistani-American on a surprising, emotional, and challenging quest for the good life. Iconic journalist Katie Couric says that “we are all so fortunate to be on the receiving end of his intellect, his humanity, and his heart.”

Wajahat Ali

“With wit and charm, Ali delivers a masterful meditation on growing up brown in America...he gives us a clear-eyed affirmation of the country America could be.” — Mara Gay, New York Times

Mara Gay, New York Times

Wajahat Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. The Daily Beast columnist and former New York Times writer, TED speaker, award-winning playwright, and Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims offers us his experiences of triumph over hardship as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of life’s impossible situations. From his experiences of Islamophobia growing up as a Muslim Pakistani-American to his two-year-old daughter’s liver cancer diagnosis, Wajahat is living proof that when we share our authentic stories, we build the America we wish to live in.”

In his memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American, Wajahat teaches us how to create our own superhero origin story, invest in hope for the future of America, and enact real social change. The book was called “biting and funny and full of heart” by NPR. Representative Ilhan Omar called Wajahat’s work “hilarious” and “deeply moving”, and legendary writer Dave Eggers said it was the book he’d “been hoping Wajahat Ali would write for ten years—hilarious, stylistically fearless, deeply humane.”

Wajahat is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim-Americans in a post-9/11 world. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America, where he told stories about communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media.

As Creative Director of Affinis Wajahat Labs, he worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Wajahat initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. 

He has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. He’s a Senior Fellow at The Western States Center and Auburn Seminary and co-host of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.