Ways to Build Bridges with Native Americans

1. Consider celebrating an American Indian Awareness Day. Use it as a special opportunity to learn about Indian cultures.

2. Go to a powwow. It's a great way to get to know Indians. And don't forget to try the traditional food such as frybread.

3. Consider working on a long-term friendly relationship with an Indian agency in your town or city.

4. (a) Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Indian way. It's a harvest festival--and for some Indian nations, it's the new year. Be playful---send each other new year cards. Cook a big meal. Be careful not to taste any of it yet. Why? You need to take a small portion of each food, put it on a plate, and offer it to the Great Mystery. We're all thankful for the food that comes from Mother Earth.

5. (b) Columbus Day and Thanksgiving Day are sources of joy for many non-Indians. They are almost universally sources of pain for Indians. Consider having a ceremony of remembrance on either holiday for those who have gone on to the spirit world.

6. Curl up with a good book by Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris, David Seals, Thomas King, or Sherman Alexie.

7. Curl up with popcorn and a movie. Go to your local video store and rent Little Big Man, Thunderheart, or Powwow Highway. Note on numbers 5 and 6: being Indian is not always spiritual. Some (but not all) of these books or movies can be depressing. You may need to draw smiley faces or play with your kitty cat afterwards.

8. Attend events that support American Indians (Anything from lectures to the Thanksgiving Day Remembrance Events).

9. Listen to Indian music. Attend Indian events such as art gallery showings, concerts, and community events. 10. Devote part of your school or parish class time to American Indian concerns. Even one session can make a difference. 11. Get to personally know Indians. Books, lectures, and events cannot possibly tell you everything you need to know. You need the actual experience.

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