For years it had been difficult for Indigenous People living on reservations to participate in the election of our government officials. It is not uncommon for polling places to be a great distance ( as much as a 5 hour journey!) from the reservations.
This election season will be the first in which voters in North Dakota must show an ID with a street address (no PO Boxes accepted.) This new reality will clearly prevent Native Americans from participating in their most fundamental rights as citizens.
Here’s how the human library worked: people signed up for 20-minute slots of time during which they could “check out” and have a casual conversation with a “human book,” a person with a particular life experience that is generally stereotyped. In addition to Spacek, the other human books on Saturday were “refugee,” “punk entrepreneur,” “rapper,” “disabled,” “journalist,” “dwarfism,” “blind,” “transgender,” “veteran,” “Muslim,” “graffiti artist” and “psychic.”
Old habits die hard, but ever so slowly, cities are beginning to acknowledge the true “discoverers” of America, the Native Indians. Just as southern states continue to work on addressing the pain brought by honoring historical figures that caused so much suffering and racism, so too must all of us address the realities of Christopher Columbus.
We must continue to work on the racism that works at an institutional level. Whether removing iconic monuments, renaming schools or renaming and refocusing our pride in holidays, we must continue to move forward.
For additional coverage on Indigenous People’s day, click here.