On Oct. 15, I attended the City Council session to award library bookmark contest winners. My youngest daughter was one of the winners in the high school category. However, I was surprised to hear a representative from the Durango High School Native American Club publicly invite the City Council members to the Durango High School Pow Wow on Nov. 16.
I witnessed each council member pleasantly moved by this indigenous youth’s plea to create a cultural forum and exchange.
I attended the pow wow and was there for most of the day. I do not recall seeing any of the City Council members present that day, but I did see County Commissioner Julie Westendorff. I witnessed her mingle her way through the various artisan vendors and wondered what was running through her mind. I wondered if she truly understood how systems of racism have encapsulated over 500 sovereign tribal nations into a 12-hour event that includes crafts for sale, contest dancing, post-contact foods and admission fees.
Pow wows are generally slight points of engagement into indigenous culture. On this last day of National Native American Heritage Month, I am grateful for representatives like Julie who prioritize those seemingly insignificant moments of cultural inclusion, especially in these times of disunity and debased entitlement.
I am grateful for all the non-Indian friends and allies who still hold those public spaces as sacred and uphold the morals of justice in their individual walks on this planet.
Being present makes a difference.