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How this Googler celebrates Native American Heritage Month all 12 months

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Once I was rising up, my Misho (my grandfather) was the chief of our tribe (Prairie Band Potawatomi) and would typically inform my brother and me tales and tales sacred to our Indigenous historical past. Once I was in second grade, I requested my Misho to return into my class to inform his tales for present and inform. I used to be immensely happy with him, and grateful for the chance to share my tradition with my classmates. However after he left, my classmates began calling me names like “Pocahontas,” and war-whooping at me on the playground. After that, I didn’t point out my tribe or Native affiliation to classmates or colleagues once more till I used to be in my 20s.

An older man with brown skin and white hair and a mustache in a pale blue button down short sleeve shirt (Cheryl’s Misho) is holding a younger girl (Cheryl) with brown hair and white skin, in a white short, puffy sleeved shirt. They are both smiling at the camera (Misho with a closed mouth smile, Cheryl with a tooth-smile).

Cheryl and her Misho

Once I acquired pregnant, I spotted I wished to reconnect with my tradition. I wished my son to know in regards to the highly effective, robust historical past of the Prairie Band Potawatomi, and about his household and my Misho. I threw myself into attempting to be taught the language, the historical past and our tales once more. I purchased my son kids’s books written by Indigenous authors, and watched each movie and film I might about Indigenous tradition — even when it wasn’t in regards to the Potawatomi.

As a part of reconnecting with my heritage, I additionally joined Google’s Aboriginal and Indigenous Community (GAIN) to remain updated on any native-focused occasions at work. I’d been a member of different worker useful resource teams at Google earlier than, like [email protected] and [email protected], however I wished to discover a group of different Native and Indigenous folks. I used to be thrilled to find GAIN and see that there have been not solely different Indigenous Googlers like me, however that there have been sufficient of them to prepare their very own group.

Throughout this time reconnecting to my heritage, I watched a movie in regards to the Murdered and Lacking Indigenous Ladies (MMIW) motion. In keeping with the USA Division of Justice’s Lacking and Murdered Indigenous Individuals (MMIP) Initiative, “American Indian and Alaska Native folks endure from unacceptable and disproportionately excessive ranges of violence, which may have lasting impacts on households and communities.” In Australia and Canada, Aboriginal and First Nationwide Australian girls are six instances extra possible to be victims of murder than non-Native girls. Within the U.S., a Activity Power was just lately created with the aim of working with tribal governments and growing protocols for the instances of lacking and murdered Indigenous peoples, amongst different issues. I bear in mind feeling fully gutted after listening to the tales of Indigenous girls disappearing from their Indian reservation, by no means to be seen once more. That is notably traumatic for a lot of Indigenous tribes as funeral drum and burial ceremonies are vital for the spirit to maneuver on to the afterlife, and for these of us behind to mourn.

After seeing that movie, I reached out to GAIN management and requested what we might do to lift consciousness for MMIW. The following factor I knew, we had a working group of greater than a dozen folks elevating consciousness and assets for MMIW organizations. We’ve even held 10 occasions with Googlers, together with panels with Black and Indigenous girls to debate the intersectionality of murdered and lacking girls of colour, started a podcast listening group, held a 5K run and hosted different fundraising and consciousness occasions. This expertise has made me really feel extra related to my tribe and my tradition. It’s empowered me to share extra of my entire self at work — I’ve launched colleagues to my language, for example, and I’ve felt like I’ve an area to determine as Native American. I’m proud to be a member of GAIN, and respect how a lot they assist to lift consciousness not solely about Indigenous tradition but in addition MMIW.

There’s a saying within the Indigenous neighborhood about MMIW: When an Indigenous lady goes lacking, she goes lacking twice — first her physique vanishes after which her story.” With assist from Googlers and GAIN, and thru the work of MMIW organizations and their volunteers, I hope these Indigenous girls, ladies and two-spirit peoples don’t go lacking eternally. You don’t need to be a Googler to participate: You may educate your self about MMIW, look into insurance policies meant to deal with this situation, or discover methods to assist organizations that advocate for MMIW. These lacking individuals are not simply faces on lacking posters. They’re household — and we’re all related.

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