Oct 11

For Indigenous Peoples Day: A Program for Charting One's Own Course

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 10/11/2021 9:29AM | Quote of the Week | War on Poverty


Our Quote of the Week reminds us of the importance of fostering the empowerment and self-determination of the many communities of Indigenous peoples of the lands on which we live. 

In 1965, Sargent Shriver gave an address at the National Conference of American Indians in Scottsdale, Arizona. Speaking about the importance of the War on Poverty programs for the local Papago, Navajo, and Havasupi peoples, and for all Indigenous peoples, he demonstrates the true power of the programs for communities that implemented them: to engender community action, economic opportunity, and self-determination in ways that best support that particular community.

In designing the War on Poverty programs, Sargent Shriver rejected a "one-size-fits-all" model for expanding opportunity. He understood that each community was distinct, and that the identity and specific needs of that community needed to be taken into consideration when providing resources and services to the people who live there. The ability to provide support on a community's own terms, taking into account the area's distinct history and  culture, is an essential component in creating an environment that allows people to thrive there. In the case of Indigenous communities, this approach made it possible to develop language and cultural resources to deepen the knowledge of the community's own heritage, for example, and to strengthen the resources and capabilities of local tribal forums. 

On this Indigenous Peoples' Day, we invite you to take a little time to learn more about the history of the people who originally inhabited the area where you live. Acknowledging and honoring the history of our Native American siblings is a gesture of reconciliation that can help reinforce our collective commitment to justice.

The staff of SSPI lives and operates on the lands of the Lenape peoples, who were forced out of New York by the Dutch in the 1600s. May we honor this land we call home and all its inhabitants, and may we continue to work together for justice and opportunity with our Indigenous siblings.

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