In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the BGI team wanted to share about some of the ongoing ways in which Indigenous communities continue to face discrimination and systemic racism today.
While we acknowledge this isn’t an exhaustive list, we hope this initial awareness spurs Catholics into prayer, fasting, action and a willingness to learn more.
The issue of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) is a huge problem. Since 2016, the National Crime Information Center has reported 5,712 cases of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls. Most of these murders and kidnappings are committed by people who are not Native against Native women. Many perpetrators of these heinous crimes have still not been prosecuted.
It is important to understand the history of colonialism and the way in which Native communities have been driven off lands that they inhabited. You can look up who are the original stewards of the land on which you now live at this website: https://native-land.ca/
The rates of serious health conditions are usually much higher among Indigenous peoples in the United States. For example, a study by Princeton researchers found that the Indigenous population in the U.S. has experienced COVID fatalities at alarming percentages.
Indigenous peoples have a special connection to the environment. Research shows that Indigenous-managed lands tend to be as healthy as protected national parks in countries such as Canada, Australia, and Brazil. As a result of their unique connection to the land, the livelihoods and food sources of Native communities are directly and disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis.
Finally, we encourage all Catholics to pray in reparation for the sins committed at Indian residential schools, many of which were Catholic schools. Pope Francis recently apologized for these crimes, as more and more mass graves have been uncovered. While this is a start, we also realize much more needs to be done to repair the harm done from these atrocities, such as a public renouncing by the Catholic Church of the Doctrine of Discovery.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha and Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk, pray for us!