MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Southern Poverty Law Center President and CEO Margaret Huang issued the statement below in commemoration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day:
“On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and every day, we honor the first peoples to inhabit the ancestral land we now call the United States. There has never been a more appropriate time to reflect on their importance to the nation’s origin. The rich and diverse cultural contributions of indigenous peoples are evident in every state throughout the country.
“On this day, we should also acknowledge that Indigenous people were exploited, enslaved and massacred for centuries throughout our history by foreign and domestic colonizers. As the nation grapples with a history of racism and exploitation, all Americans must take a clear and honest look at the legacy of harm to Indigenous communities, including mass incarceration, violence against indigenous women, pollution and exploitation of indigenous lands and waters, widespread health disparities, barriers to voting, devastating levels of poverty and deprivation, and ongoing threats to their way of life.
“The work begins with a deeply-rooted commitment to sharing their stories, accurately and completely, in our schools and communities. Too often, the history of Indigenous people is left out of the story that is told about the history of the United States, and that must change if we are to transform the systems that continue to oppress them.”
As part of the Teaching Hard History project, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a classroom-ready film last week to help teach students in grades 6-12 about the history of Indigenous slavery in what is now the United States. The film, “The Forgotten Slavery of Our Ancestors” and other helpful resources are available at: Tolerance.org/ForgottenSlavery.