Here at Leapcure, we spoke with Sequoia Coleman who works closely with the California Native Vote Project. We learned about what Indigenous Peoples’ Day means to her, why it is important to recognize her heritage, and how we can be more supportive and inclusive of indigenous populations within clinical trials.
So, what is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
According to National Today, Indigenous Peoples’ Day raises awareness for the years of colonial torture and oppression endured by the native people that was caused by European explorers who settled in America. Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates the traditions and cultures of native people and recognizes the tragic history behind what used to be known as Columbus Day.
Sequoia is proud to be the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and began working with native people in California more than two years ago. She has gained abundant knowledge about the history of Columbus Day, which is now being recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in many states. She explained that Columbus Day was glamorized in history, but in reality, it diminished the Indigenous population from 100% to just 3.5%.
“Taking back Indigenous Peoples’ Day is important because it shows we are taking a stance and won’t just go away or be gotten rid of. It is reclaiming our power and being able to educate and inform people about our history.”
When providing cultural humility training Sequoia asks, “What do native people look like?” This question opens a door for conversations to educate people and she further elaborated, “Native people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors but most people don’t know that.” Sequoia expressed that many people assume native tribes are all the same, but each tribe is different and has their own unique culture with distinctive dances and regalia.
After discussing how clinical studies affect native populations, Sequoia explained, “When I think of clinical trials, my mind immediately goes to the COVID vaccines. I actually know Indigenous people who participated in the early stages of those trials. It really helped prevent COVID in our community and kept us healthy.” Sequoia also stated, “These trials have the potential to help improve life for us and that’s pretty great.” Knowing that the native population has become so small, she expressed how important it is to minimize illnesses within the community to protect themselves.
In a perfect world, Sequoia would want everyone to be educated and understand the real history of what is now known to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day. “If you are going to support native people, please research first.”
She explained many items claim to be native-made, but in reality, people and businesses are just using tribal prints and the proceeds do not actually benefit the native community. “There are plenty of native artists who make beautiful jewelry, paintings, and clothing. Support them and continue to educate yourself about native culture.”
If you want to read more about Indigenous Peoples’ Day click this link: