Being a community-centered organization means honoring all members of our community, both locally and nationally.
August contains two days focused on honoring two important communities in American history:
The Indigenous Community on August 9th and descendants of enslaved Africans. & August 23rd. In addition, August 19th is World Humanitarian Day, honoring people who devote time to improving communities, sometimes their own and sometimes others.
All three of these dates were established by the United Nations. These dates, and others, have the goal of promoting “international awareness and action on these issues,” and serve as a tool for people to, “make an international day a springboard for awareness-raising actions.” This is in alignment with our work at CTP. Here, we share resources to raise your awareness of these communities.
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9th was selected to honor the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982. An organization tasked with, “review[ing] developments pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples” and, “giving attention to the evolution of international standards concerning indigenous rights.”
World Humanitarian Day was chosen to remember the Canal Hotel bombing which killed 22 people, mostly humanitarian workers, working in Iraq on August 19, 2003.
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition commemorates August 23, 1791, the start of the Haitian Revolution.
There’s a decent chance you haven’t heard of these celebrations until now. This month we highlight twelve resources that celebrate these communities’ past and present. As well as ways that you can celebrate while helping these communities.
Educate Yourself While Celebrating Indigenous Accomplishments
(Trigger Warning: Child Abuse)
Canada has been in the news a lot recently because of the conditions children faced in Indigenous boarding schools. But Indigenous children in the United States faced similar abuse at their schools. Crow historian Janine Pease tells the stories of a few of these school’s victims and survivors.
Diné environmental chemist Ranalda Tsosie grew up in the Navajo Nation, where waste from nearby uranium mines contaminated the water she and her neighbors used to drink. Now she’s studying the extent of the contamination and developing new tools for water treatment. All while blending western and Diné scientific methods.
The First Nations Development Institute is an organization devoted to improving economic conditions for Native Americans. Its staff members have compiled a book list of “essential reading for anyone interested in the Native American experience.” With 126 books across 12 genres, and a separate list of children’s books, there’s bound to be something on this list for you. There are also a variety of ways to give to the institute.
One area where the above book list is somewhat lacking is fiction. There’s a reason for that. Publishers usually push Indigenous writers to write nonfiction. In this podcast two Indigenous authors: Blackfoot horror writer Stephen Graham Jones, and Lipan Apache YA author Darcie Little Badger describe their experiences as Indigenous writers breaking into the traditionally white fiction industry.
Celebrate World Humanitarian Day With These Groups
Every year the United Nations uses World Humanitarian Day to advocate for a different humanitarian cause. This year’s theme is, “It Takes a Village.” Go to their website to learn more.
While humanitarian work is usually thought of in an international sense, there are plenty of local organizations doing humanitarian work as well. Here in Oregon, the YWCA of Greater Portland is one such organization, doing a wide array of humanitarian work to the Portland area. They provide services to domestic violence survivors, families of incarcerated individuals, and seniors. As well as Summer camp scholarships, a social justice program, COVID-19 aid, and they process donations for many other humanitarian groups. You can donate or volunteer to help their goals. And there are chapters doing similar work throughout the country.
Not all humanitarian work is in the private sector either. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program is named for Ryan White, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 at age 13 and lived with the disease for five more years. The government initiative was established in his name. It aims to help low-income people with HIV receive health care, medicine, and support services.
The Mercy Corps is an international humanitarian organization founded in Portland and operating in over 40 countries. Mercy Corps provides humanitarian work in many areas including, COVID-19 aid, opportunities for youth, climate solutions, access to technology, and helping small business ventures. They offer a variety of ways to help.
Learn About the Slave Trade’s Past and Present With These Resources
In August 1619, the first of what would be many ships carrying enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia. In the 1619 Project, a group of journalists led by Nikole Hannah-Jones, write a series of essays with the aim to, “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
Enslaved follows actor and activist Samuel L Jackson. The six episode series starts with Jackson tracing his personal history back to Africa, and turns into a collaboration with Diving with a Purpose as they locate sunken slave ships. Along the way Jackson and the divers explore “the ideology, economics and politics of slavery.” Enslaved can be streamed on Discovery+, Epix, and Philo.
In June we highlighted 13th, Ava Duvernay’s documentary that highlights how slavery continues through prison labor. To quote the group, “We, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), are a prisoner-led section of the Industrial Workers of the World. We struggle to end prison slavery.” Their website includes a list of resources, and ways to get involved.
Buycott is a website and app that maintains many lists of companies worth boycotting according to various criteria. This list singles out 44 companies to boycott to combat prison labor.
Compared to our Pride and Juneteenth resource list, you’re almost certainly less familiar with these three dates. But every day is a new opportunity to learn. With these resources we hope you take our invitation to expand your knowledge and learn more about Indigenous Americans, humanitarian work, and the Atlantic slave trade. Beyond learning we all must honor these communities and celebrate their contributions to our world and communities.