Supporting Indigenous Legislative Agendas
One of the ways we can practice restorative justice in relation to the Nation peoples of our region is to stand in solidarity with their efforts for rights, respect and land.
One critical way to do this is to support the Indigenous legislative initiatives in your state.
In Massachusetts this process is being driven by the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda maindigenousagenda.org/
Change the Mass Flag In the waning days of the past legislative session the House joined the Senate in unanimously passing S2848 to establish a commission to remove racist imagery and language from the Massachusetts State flag & seal. Gov. Baker also signed the resolution. A commission drawing heavily on Indigenous representatives will meet and present a proposal for a new flag and seal by fall of 2021. This follows on the removal of the Confederate flag from the Mississippi state flag in 2020. Additional information at: Changethemassflag.com
This leaves several critical initiatives to build on this success in the new legislative session:
Remove Racist Mascots Decades of social science research have shown that Native American mascots (i.e., nicknames & logos) have serious psychological and social consequences for Native American students in our schools. This bill has also been reported out of committee this year in the state legislature and is still under consideration in 2020.
Indigenous Peoples Day Columbus Day celebrations erase the true histories of colonialism, genocide and racism that Native peoples have experienced and continue to face. Changing the 2nd Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples Day acknowledges that impact and celebrates Indigenous resilience and survival in Massachusetts as well as throughout the Americas. Cities and towns all over the US have taken this step, and an increasing number of states are doing so now, too.
Unfortunately, this bill was not reported out of committee this year, but a major rally is being held on Oct. 10th in Boston demanding this important change.
Protect Native Heritage This bill was also reported out of committee in 2020. It assures that sacred Indigenous objects held in art collections in the state cannot be sold for profit without the free, prior and informed consent of the applicable tribe.
Educate Native Youth This house bill sets up a permanent commission towards improving educational outcomes and opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native students. Broader impacts of the commission are the promotion of tribal self-determination by providing students with the opportunity to learn their heritage, languages and histories while preparing them for higher education.
Information on work on the Indigenous legislative agenda in other Northeast states:
Vermont: Vermont Racial Justice Alliance
Maine: In 2019 Maine became one at least 5 states to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day
Chronology of Tribal Recognition
Connecticut: Indian Mascots