National Native American (Indigenous) Heritage Month
The leaves have all but fallen and our minds are shifting from leaf-peeping to snow season, or at least mine is. It’s November, and I am eager for that brief calm before the end-of-year rush. Many folks think of food, family, friends, and the start of the holiday season this month. I think of those things too, but mostly I think of National Native¹ American Heritage Month.
Since 1990, November has been Native American Heritage Month². This time provides an opportunity to learn about, reflect on, honor, and engage with Native peoples, communities, and cultures, both past and present. It gives us an opportunity to remember a history that many would rather forget, to honor a people that have and continue to struggle against erasure every day. It gives us an opportunity to come together, share stories, connect, mourn what’s been lost, honor what still remains, be in community, and imagine what could be. There is so much to learn, witness, and celebrate, all of which can help build and strengthen connections within our ever-growing BIPOC family.
My family is of Blackfoot descent (and Italian, maybe a few other things). Although the Blackfoot tribe is largely located on a reservation in Montana, our people used to roam the plains and mountains throughout the U.S. and Canada. My ancestors can be traced to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine all the way back to the 1600s. However, my people are not the stewards of this land. In Vermont, we are on the unceded lands of the Western Abenaki; Elnu Abenaki Tribe of Southern VT, the Nulhegan Abenaki tribe of the Northeast Kingdom of VT, the Ko’asek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation of Northeast and Central VT, and the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi currently located in Swanton. These are the people who have been in relationship with this land for generations and will be for generations to come.
Vermont is home to many Native folks. Some of us are Western Abenaki, Blackfoot, Crow, Mohawk, Cheyenne, Cherokee. These are just the people I’ve met who have identified their tribal affiliations to me, I’m sure many more Native peoples live here. A big part of my Native identity (and I think it’s safe to say this is true for most Native folks) is my connection to the land, to this land, and therefore to the original stewards of it. Each month, including this one, I am reflecting on what I am doing to engage with and lift Native voices, causes, and communities. What am I doing to support these lands and what am I doing to honor and support its original stewards, the Western Abenaki people? What am I doing to combat erasure, to bring people together, to effect positive change in this world? How am I using the power I have for the good of all BIPOC individuals?
I was raised believing that life is a web, a network, a woven tapestry in which we are all connected: people, animals, trees, stones, rivers, earth, air, ancestors, and spirit. All my relations, every sacred thing. I know in a rural place like Vermont, we can feel so far apart. I know in this time and place it can be hard to find common ground. Yet, I feel now more than ever we need one another; we need our community.
National Native American Heritage Month provides rich opportunities to learn and engage with your own Native heritage, or with the Native communities present here in Vermont, especially the Western Abenaki peoples! It is important to understand our histories and to remember that our stories are still being written. We are still here. What is occurring now, in the present, will become the histories of future generations. What do we want that story to be?
This November, I’ll be reflecting on how I can more fully honor my own Native heritage and seek opportunities to engage with and support my Western Abenaki community. For those who are interested in doing the same, I’ve shared several resources below. This month, and every month, let’s find ways to build connections, to come together, and to celebrate all of our relations and the diverse histories (and futures) we share.
To learn more about Native American Heritage Month, the Western Abenaki People, and current Native affairs:
- Visit the official National Native American History Month page: https://www.nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/
- Check out Native art/artists: https://abenakiart.org/
- Learn about local tribes: https://abenakitribe.org/
- Engage in current affairs: Trigger warning – https://www.nativehope.org/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women-mmiw
- Learn what Native lands you’re on: https://www.npr.org/2022/10/10/1127837659/native-land-map-ancestral-tribal-lands-worldwide
- Support Native-owned Businesses: https://www.vtpoc.net/bipoc-business-directory/
- Take part in an Indigenous Heritage Month DEI training session: https://unexpectedvirtualtours.com/dei-training/indigenous-heritage-month-event-indigenous-month-team-building
- Explore IllumiNative – a Native woman-led racial and social justice organization: https://illuminative.org/
- Watch Native films, follow Native people on social media, read Native authors, attend an event, talk to your Native neighbors.
¹ Herein the term “Native” is being used to refer to all Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Please note, not all Native or Indigenous peoples feel these terms are reflective or inclusive of them, it is always best to use the language a specific person or tribal community uses to refer to themselves. I have stuck with Native to keep my language consistent, unless talking about a specific people.
² To learn more about the history of Native American Heritage Month, here is a great video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fipaCV0w5do
About the Author
Faye Longo (she/they) is a social entrepreneur, lived expert, and changemaker with 15 years of professional experience engaging and supporting marginalized, oppressed, and stigmatized individuals and groups. They are a dis/other-abled, 2-spirited, Blackfoot, cis-woman; a member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, and a person with lived experiences of poverty, trauma, violence, addiction/recovery, mental illness, and more. As Founding Director of Live Dream Lead Inspire, LLC, Faye works in relationship with individuals, groups, and communities to identify, address, and overcome internal and external symptoms and systems of oppression.
They currently reside and steward land in South Royalton (unceded lands of the Western Abenaki of Vermont) with their amazing partner, their 10 and 20-year-old kiddos, and a slew of fur and feather babies. To learn more about her work, please visit Faye’s LinkedIn page. To connect with her, she can be emailed at Faye@ldli.org.
This month, we’re highlighting Esther Charlestin! Esther lives in Addison County and is an educator, a Co-Chair for the Vermont Commission on Women, and the Founder and CEO of Conversation Compass LLC, a educational consulting business.
Esther recently left her position as Dean of Climate and Culture at Middlebury Union Middle School due to racism in the workplace—not just from administrators and teachers, but also students. Click the link below to read her op-ed, originally published in Addison County Independent in August.
news FROM THE NETWORK
New Co-Executive Directors Alert!
VT PoC is excited to announce that Tino Rutanhira, co-founder of VT PoC, has officially joined as a full time staff member! Since our founding, Tino has been working hard on his “off-time” to support the Network and we’re excited for him to be a formal part of the team!
Along with this announcement, we’re thrilled to share that Tino and Weiwei are now Co-Executive Directors of the organization! Tino will be focused on business development, and Weiwei will be leading on community and policy. We’re looking forward to doing more for the community!
Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) Report
As part of CNPP, VT PoC hosted statewide listening sessions to better understand the challenges and resource gaps identified in the CNPP Small Business Survey. We invited small business owners to join VT PoC in these BIPOC affinity spaces to learn about opportunities, challenges, and gaps in small-business resources.
The VT BIPOC Relief Fund has received additional funding for BIPOC Small Businesses!
We have limited funding available for BIPOC small business owners and BIPOC community members recovering from the July floods. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The next application review will be on November 15, 2023, and funds will be distributed shortly after.
Small Business Technical Assistance Exchange (SBTAE) is now open!
This is a state-funded program that helps VT business owners transform their small businesses through service projects for up to $4,000.
November 14 – VT PoC’s State of the Network
VT PoC is hosting our bi-annual State of the Network on Tuesday, November 14, from 5:00-6:30 PM at the Vermont Comedy Club! ✨
This is an opportunity for friends and allies of VT PoC to connect with the organization’s mission, past projects, and future endeavors.
We can’t wait to see all of you there! Stay right after to join us for Vermont Comedy Club’s Tuesday Night Trivia.
Association of Africans Living in VT (AALV) is interested in learning about your experience with street-level youth violence in your community.
Please take this short ~15 minute survey! The purpose of this survey is to engage community members in assessing the needs of refugee and immigrant youth in our community and to identify gaps in services. You won’t be asked for your name; this survey is completely confidential. A few questions might seem a little personal—AALV asks you try to answer honestly. If you don’t want to answer a question, you can skip to the next one. You can exit the survey at any time.
Your survey responses will be collected via Google Forms where data will be stored in a password-protected electronic format. Google Forms doesn’t collect any identifying information such as your name, email address, or IP address, so your responses will remain completely anonymous. No one will be able to identify you nor your answers, and no one will know whether you participated in this survey.
November 7 – Mercy Connections Coat Drive (9:00 AM – 4:00 PM)
The snowflakes in Vermont yesterday were a good reminder that winter is just around the corner! On Tuesday, November 7th, participants may come to Mercy Connections to select a coat for themselves and their families to stay warm this winter. Coats are provided in partnership with Gadue’s Dry Cleaning and will be at Mercy Connections from 9 am to 4 pm.
November 8 – Figure Drawing Night at Firefolk Arts (5:30 PM – 8:00 PM)
Come out to draw, paint, or sculpt, with the human body as subject. All levels of experience welcome. There is no teacher, but some experienced guides who may give tips or answer questions. Bring your own materials, and easels (if you have them. We do not have easel stands, tables only.) $28 cost // ages 18+
November 8 – Fortifying the Future of Vermont’s Downtowns (5:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Can we calculate the value of our downtowns? Yes, actually – and doing so will help us ensure their resilience. Join VBSR and Vermont Public for networking, food, drinks, and a panel discussion on Fortifying the Future of Vermont’s Downtowns.
November 8 – Aaron Chen at the Vermont Comedy Club (7:00 PM)
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Aaron has quickly climbed the ranks of the international comedy scene. Aaron supported comedian Ronny Chieng on his Live Australian Tour, and had feature roles in Ronny Chieng International Student (ABC), Orange is the New Brown (Seven Network), and FISK (Netflix). His stand-up special, If It Weren’t Filmed, Nobody Would Believe was released on YouTube in September 2022 and has accumulated almost 1 million views.
November 8, 15, 22, 29 – English for Beginners and Intermediate Students (6:30 PM – 8:00 PM)
English-language learners of all abilities can practice written and spoken English with trained instructors. FREE. Please register for classes by emailing Barbara Shatara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 9 – Land Access & Opportunity Board: Designing Land Access Grant Programs (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
The Land Access & Opportunity Board (LAOB), a Vermont State Board tasked with improving access to land and homes for traditionally marginalized communities, is inviting community members to come and share their experiences and ideas. Land and home access and ownership for these communities sometimes comes with higher barriers and limitations. The LAOB is holding this event to create space for solutions to be crafted by and for community members. Come and help the LAOB design state grant programs that will work well for the communities it’s serving! The LAOB was created to represent and serve the following marginalized communities: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, refugee/immigrant/undocumented, physical/mental development disabilities, and psychiatric survivors. We aim to make this event accessible to these communities in particular and welcome any and all participants.
November 10, 11 – Langston Kerman at the Vermont Comedy Club (7:00 PM, 9:00 PM)
Langston is an LA based comedian, actor, writer, and producer. He can be seen starring in Bust Down (Peacock), a series that he also Executive Produced/Co-Created with Sam Jay, Chris Redd and Jak Knight. He is the head writer/one of the Executive Producers of PAUSE with Sam Jay (HBO), which was nominated for a WGA award for its first season and recently finished airing a second season. On screen Langston recurred as ‘Eagle The Archer’ in the second season of The Boys (Amazon). His other acting credits include starring alongside Lake Bell and Dax Shepard as ‘Brandon’ on the Bless This Mess (ABC) and recurring as ‘Jared’ on Insecure (HBO). He will next be seen recurring opposite Gina Rodriguez in Not Dead Yet (ABC) and recurring as ‘Jesse’ in the highly anticipated The Other Black Girl (Hulu/Onyx).
November 10 – Safe Spaces – BIPoC Game Night (7:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Sometimes we just need a night out without going out. So throw on something comfy and let’s have a game night! Donations welcome and help cover the cost of childcare, food and drinks. Feel free to BYO drink, snack or something to share.
November 11 – Tibet Festival (10:00 AM – 4:30 PM)
“Tashi Deleck!” Is a universal Tibetan greeting meaning good luck and good health. The Tibetan Association of Vermont is proud to announce the 19th annual Tibet Festival. Transport yourself to the “Roof of the World,” without having to travel outside of Burlington with rich Tibetan cultural dance performances, music, Tibetan fashion show while enjoying authentic Tibetan food and craft shopping!
November 11 – Fulla Flava Jamaican Jerk 1 Year Anniversary (3:00 PM)
Fulla Flava Jamaican jerk has been in business for one year join us as we celebrate! We will have a DJ on site for your entertainment(Dj Skar) New Drinks and new dishes to try! And a huge raffle at the end! Come party with us as we bring a taste of the island to White River Junction!
November 14 – POC Pole Space with Savvie at RevolVT (7:00 PM)
Pole jam space for and centering BIPOC, lead by Savvie/Ruthless. This time is include a full pole class (75 min), consisting of a flow created to be inviting to both beginner and experienced alike, so we can all dance together. Afterwards, (45 min) will be open to socialize, pole dance freely and be together in a space for us. Regular class pass to pay for space use/teaching class time is helpful, however, we desire to make this space accessible. Currently you do not need an active pass to book the class. This class is free/by donation if you desire.
November 15 – LGBTQIA2S+ Affinity Space (12:00 PM – 1:30 PM)
Are you a member of Vermont’s LGBTQIA2S+ community? If so, join CWE and other members of Vermont’s LGBTQIA2S+ Pride & Prosperity Network for this month’s open meeting! This space is held for members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community to get updates regarding the Pride & Prosperity Network, to share thoughts and ideas, and to access resources and support! November’s theme is: Keeping Sane Through the Holiday Season. Have questions, want to learn more, or not a member of the community but interested in engaging/supporting please reach out to Faye Longo (she/they) at email@example.com.
November 16 – Mohanad Elshieky at the Vermont Comedy Club (7:00 PM)
Mohanad is a New York based, Libyan born comedian who made his national TV debut on Conan and has been featured on Comedy Central. He is one of the hosts of Lemonada’s webby nominated podcast I’M SORRY where each week they unravel the latest and greatest in Twitter gaffes, petty beef and not-so-subtle shade. In 2018, he appeared in an episode of Epix’s “Unprotected Sets” and was listed as one of Thrillist’s 50 Best Undiscovered Comics. Mohanad has a special skill for making you laugh at the seemingly unlaughable. The Libyan-born comedian combines a deceptively laid-back demeanor with his whip-smart perspective on politics and culture.
November 16, 17 – 2023 Farm to Plate Annual Gathering (8:00 PM)
Over two days, we will engage in transformational thinking and practice to better understand how we can create and support the conditions for transformational change. Through personal stories and breakout sessions, we’ll learn about the successes and struggles of those in Vermont’s food system who are already involved in transformational work.
November 17 – BIPOC Skate Night (8:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Keep on Rollin’ at our next BIPOC skate night on Friday, 11/17 from 6-8 PM at the ONE Community Center! Join us for a fun evening full of BIPOC joy, wellness & community. Don’t have your own skates or safety gear? No problem! DM or email in advance to reserve a pair from our growing lending library. Pay what you can sliding scale of $5 – $10 suggested donation per person. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Instagram!
November 17 – Ndlovu Youth Choir at the Flynn (7:00 PM)
Prepare to be moved and uplifted by the inspiring sound Ndlovu Youth Choir at the Flynn. These America’s Got Talent finalist who won the hearts of millions will perform soul-stirring covers of popular songs. Tickets are priced $25 – $40.
November 18 – Teen-led Open Mic Fundraiser at Firefolk Arts (4:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
Firefolk Arts is having an open mic fundraiser event emceed by 14-year-old Harmony Belle. All ages are welcome to attend, and anyone of all ages 12+ may sign up to perform / art, music, poetry, act, sing, etc. There is a $10 – $25 door fee. This open mic will help raise funds for future events.
November 20 – VT Racial Justice Alliance Monthly Game Night (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Join us for our monthly game night at the Richard Kemp Center where there will be Spades, Charades, Dominos, and more! Food will also be provided.
November 25 – Fletcher Free Library Presents: The Poetry Experience ft. Rajnii Eddins (1:00 PM – 3:00 PM)
Check out this local writing/sharing circle (held every 2nd and 4th Saturday). The Poetry Experience is hosted by Rajnii Eddins! Please spread the word and feel free to invite poets, writers, teachers, emcees, creative people and arts enthusiasts of all ages!!!!
December 2 – Firefolk Arts Winter Market (2:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Includes artists and food vendors! Check out art, ceramics, herbs, prints, clothing, food, woven textiles, gifts, and more in Waitsfield.
December 2 – Michael Arnowitt at the Chandler Music Hall (2:00 PM)
Pianist, composer, and event organizer Michael Arnowitt is one of the most creative musicians of today. His imaginative musical landscapes, extraordinary sense of touch at the piano, and warm onstage personality have delighted audiences in concert halls around the world. He lives in the USA and Canada and has given piano performances in France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Korea.
December 3 – Ethiopian Community Dinner Party (6:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
All are welcome! All proceeds will help build water wells in Ethiopia. RSVP to email@example.com.
Vermont’s minimum hourly wage to increase by 49 cents in January, to $13.67
Starting in January, Vermont’s minimum wage will rise by 49 cents to $13.67 per hour, affecting the tipped minimum wage, which will be 50% of the full minimum wage. Tipped employees’ wage will increase by 56 cents to $6.84 per hour, as announced by the state Department of Labor. Currently, Vermont’s minimum hourly wage stands at $13.18, while the hourly tipped minimum wage is $6.28, both exceeding the federal minimums of $7.25 and $5.12, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Tipped employees in Vermont are defined as individuals earning more than $120.00 per month in tips.
Vermont extends grant program for first generation homebuyers
The state government has extended a grant program to help first-generation homebuyers in financing their homes. Administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VFHA), the program provides $15,000 grants to eligible applicants. It is specifically aimed at first-time homebuyers whose parents have also never owned a home.While there is no mandatory requirement for applicants to identify as BIPOC, a legislative intention of the program is to reduce the racial gap in homeownership and to help those who do not have generational wealth.
JetBlue dropping its Burlington to JFK Airport flight
JetBlue declared the discontinuation of its flight route from Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport due to ongoing air traffic control staffing issues. JetBlue’s last day of service will be January 4, 2024.
More women needed in trades to solve Vermont’s workforce shortage
Efforts are underway to encourage more girls to take an interest in the trades at younger ages, with collaborative initiatives between state education officials and private trades associations. Additionally, the Scott administration plans to introduce a funding proposal next year to improve recruitment endeavors.
Mental health urgent care takes root in Vermont
The recently opened Access Hub in downtown Montpelier is only about 4 miles from the Central Vermont Medical Center, aiming to divert individuals from the emergency room and connect them directly with organizations offering counseling and psychiatric services. Funded by the government, the initiative is gaining traction across Vermont.