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ZORA
Unapologetic. Ours. A publication from Medium for Black women.

Indigenous People

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What’s at Stake

Indigenous women and their communities want their say in the 2020 election

Indigenous woman wearing face mask at a protest in July.
Indigenous woman wearing face mask at a protest in July.

ZORA has delved into what’s at stake in this election cycle with an important series about women of color and the vote. We sought the insight of political activists, advocacy groups, lawmakers, and community stakeholders. Read on for insight into a voting bloc that may impact not just the next election, but America’s future course. Keep an eye on What’s at Stake all week long.

When Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids made history in 2018 as the first Native American women ever elected to Congress, it symbolized the collective journey of Indigenous people who’ve lived on these lands for millennia…


Women use cultural traditions to combat the Coronavirus

A photo of an elderly Ojibwe showing an embroidery to a young child.
A photo of an elderly Ojibwe showing an embroidery to a young child.

On March 25, Nicole Sch stepped out into the cool forest air of Anahim Lake, a predominantly Ulkatcho First Nation community in British Columbia, and began to dance. As she zigzagged across a meadow near her home, small “jingles” on her handmade brown and gold dress rustled in tune to her movements. Across North America, dozens of Native women followed suit, posting videos of themselves and their children performing the jingle dress dance, a traditional Ojibwe healing dance, from Arizona suburbs to the snowy woods of Michigan.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has swept across the United States and Canada, indigenous…


The violations began with Christopher Columbus and follow through to President Trump’s immigration crackdowns

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

One place this is occurring is at our southern border. Curiously, the Trump administration has used human trafficking as a reason to build a wall and crack down on immigration there, but experts maintain that the changes being made are putting even more migrant families, many of whom are Indigenous from Central America, in greater danger. Migrants who seek asylum legally are now being forced to wait in Mexico until their cases are heard, where they’re considered vulnerable targets and law enforcement is lax.

Human trafficking continues to grow and proliferate because it’s big…


Our matriarchal cultures were built to resist

As warnings about the impending threat of climate change become reality, the western world has begun seeking alternatives to a civilization seemingly driven by greed and consumption, and if unabated, will render Earth unable to support life.

In the search for answers, scientists have discovered what my ancestors knew long ago: Indigenous people have climate wisdom, and our knowledge of ecosystems, as well as the sustainable practices we developed to live in balance with them over millennia, are key to helping curtail the damage that’s been wrought.

But not only do Indigenous people possess the know-how to help the world…


Our government has a history of colonizing our land and erasing our history, so I have my doubts

This election cycle, we are seeing an unprecedented push by Democratic presidential candidates to appeal to Native American voters, whose votes have proved crucial in some predominantly red states like Iowa, North Dakota, Alaska, and Montana, and have won congressional elections for Dems. Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, and Elizabeth Warren all announced their plans for tribes before the first Native American Presidential Forum that took place in August. Amy Klobuchar has a list of policy priorities for Indian country on her website and Cory Booker included Indigenous people in his climate and economic justice plan.


Tribal nations have had to fight for centuries against erasure

When Christopher Columbus arrived with the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria in 1492, the Americas were already inhabited by millions of Indigenous who comprised thousands of different tribes — each with their own language, culture, heritage, spiritual practices, and land base. Contrary to popular belief, tribes were hardly primitive. They possessed ancient ancestral knowledge about biology, cosmology, medicine, and economics, and had their own governmental systems and laws. They had cities and used complex trade routes. My own Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) ancestors, who called the Northern Plains home, wore dentalium harvested from the Pacific coastline.

Columbus’ arrival wasn’t…

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