By Michael Kickingbear
As this is the “eve” of folks celebrating “The Luck Of The Irish” I am thinking about my Native relatives. Why do I say this?
During the year, there are various holidays celebrating other heritages and cultures in the United states such as Columbus day for Italian American’s and St Patrick’s day for Irish-Americans. some of these celebrations involve a parade, some even a day off from work.
These holidays usually include an above average amount of elevated attention due to local and even national television coverage. The usual “pride” theme being displayed front and center.
But where are the national Native American celebrations for our pride? When was the last time you saw a parade down times square in NYC honoring just native American people? Sure, the Macy Thanksgiving day parade might throw us a bone and (on that day) practice inclusion….
And yes, after quite a bit of work, we have achieved the “Native American Heritage Day” here in the United States. It is usually observed the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year that will be November 24th, 2017. My tribal nation celebrates that holiday by putting out a fact a day about ourselves or about other Native people every day during the Month of November. A small gesture of what we (as native people) really try to do each and every name for ourselves to fight historical trauma.
My co-host David Grey own and I had a debate a few episodes back (on our Native Opinion Podcast) about the lack of recognition of Native American Actors at the mainstream Academy Awards (The Oscars) for Film and television. At that time, I went on anäive rant about how we need to make Hollywood recognize our as equally talented native brothers and sisters, to their non-native counterparts. Dave kept trying to get through to me that we must recognize OURSELVES and not (in essence) beg others to “see” us. (Dave didn’t actually use the word beg)
While I didn’t see it as begging, Dave is right. And there are examples where we do have excellent efforts of recognizing ourselves and celebrating native American talent. Here in the United States, for example, we have The Native American Music Awards, (The Nammies) and the Indian Summer Music Awards. (The ISMA’s) and in Canada, there is the Manito Ahbee music festival which includes the Indigenous Music Awards.
But what about us recognizing ourselves for our work in film? Well yes… we do that as well. This upcoming year will mark the 42 annual American Indian Film Festival in California. The first festival was launched in 1975 in Seattle Washington. There is also the Red Nation Film Festival, which was founded in 2003 by Joanelle Romero, and award-winning filmmaker and Academy of Motion picture Arts & Sciences member.
Tomorrow, amongst the Irish Americans celebrating their heritage you may see leprechauns. Mystical characters that are associated with the luck of the Irish. Yet even that imaginary character gets a parade dedicated to Irish pride and honor.
Indian country is capable of gathering and marching to support clean water and Indigenous rights and other efforts. I think it’s high time maybe we gather and have a parade in support of……well….Us! But rather than waiting for an invite, maybe we should just create our own…..