We closed our clinic on Monday, October 11, in observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and gathered our staff for team-building. This day is particularly relevant to our mission as a nonprofit dedicated to providing inclusive and culturally responsive services.
To that end, it was important for us to take the time to acknowledge the meaning behind this reclaimed day. Though many calendars say today is Columbus Day, more and more cities and states are recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead. Our Assistant Director of DEI, Brittany Armstrong Sowle, led us in a land acknowledgement, taking time to recognize which Indigenous Nations are the traditional stewards of the land on which our clinic stands. She shared this explanation from Northwestern University about the significance of land acknowledgements:
“It is important to understand the longstanding history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation.”
CHAT’s clinic stands on the traditional, ancestral, un-ceded territory of several Indigenous Nations, including the Kickapoo, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk/Winnebago, and Sioux Nations. It is easier to deny Indigenous people their rights if we historicize their struggles and pretend that they don’t exist in the present tense. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a reminder that we must continue to commit ourselves to dismantling systems that perpetuate inequity, which are ongoing within under-resourced and marginalized Indigenous communities today.