Diving into the rich cultural diversity of Maryland as the Mission of Love Charities, Inc. (MOLC) focuses on Native American Heritage Month, I was immensely struck by how the early traditional homelands of the indigenous people weathered the natural elements several hundred years ago with only self-sufficient survival skills. We extend our deepest appreciation to the Native tribes and successive generations for their immeasurable contributions, remarkable achievements, rich culture, and resilient traditions that paved the way for new generations of Marylanders.
Mission of Love Charities, Inc. honors our Native American community members, partners, volunteers, and clients and celebrates November in solidarity with them. We are especially proud to revisit their long history, unique challenges, incredible resilience, and overwhelming perseverance. A trip down memory lane reminds us to learn, listen, reflect, and celebrate their achievements in November, and every month!
In all spheres of life, both locally and statewide, Mission of Love Charities, Inc. applauds Native Americans who continue to make tremendous strides. The recent 2022 mid-term elections highlight several indigenous candidates who won Congressional seats: U.S. Rep., Mary Peltola (Yupik) is the first Indigene and first woman elected to represent Alaska in the U.S. House of Representatives. In Kansas, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, (Ho-Chunk), won her 3rd District re election bid. In Oklahoma, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, the longest serving Indigene in Congress (Chickasaw Nation) will serve his 11th term in the 4th District.
On the other hand, Oklahoma’s new Governor is Kevin Stitt (Cherokee Nation). Last month also saw the 1st Native American in space. Nicole Mann (Wailaki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California), a Marine colonel and test pilot took off from Cape Carnevale, FL demonstrating that representation matters, and highlighting the importance of America’s incredible diversity aboard the space station.
More recently, the Mission also supports our Native American affiliates as the Supreme Court takes up the timely Child Welfare Act – Haaland v. Brackeen which is poised to challenge the Indian Child Welfare Act and will hopefully resolve the unnecessary forced removal of Native American kids from their families. Mission of Love services a respectable number of Native American children and the fear of parents losing their children is deeply tied into the stigma of not applying for SNAP and other benefits.
Native Americans have always considered it sacred to restore their landscape as their spiritual home. Resources from the land that feeds them have always been considered hallowed. According to Wikipedia, the land that is now the State of Maryland in the United States of America was widely populated by indigenous tribes prior to European arrival. The office of Mission of Love Charities, Inc. sits in Capitol Heights, Prince Georges’ County, Maryland which currently has 0.3% of Native Americans (two or more races – mostly the Piscataway Indian Nation, the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, and the Accohannock Indian Tribe).
This community is only a few miles from the Anacostia River Walk. Many moons ago, several indigenous tribes lived, fed from these lands and thrived along the Anacostia and Potomac Riverbeds. Nowadays, Mission of Love Charities Inc. is focused on food insecurity, housing insecurity and bill assistance needs for the small percentage of tribal affiliated members who patronize our services. Provision of these resources and assistance for our Native American clientele reassures the Mission that our current programs are being used to identify, analyze, and disseminate replicable cost-effective strategies for the marginalized and underserved community.
The Mission continues to raise public awareness of hunger and its related burgeoning needs which are now a critical local concern. While the organization thrives on providing successful housing and bills assistance to the marginalized and other low-income communities to improve their economic insecurity; the Native Americans that show up at Mission of Love Charities, Inc. do not have consistent access to nutritious food mostly because of financial issues. There is also reported stigma about a reluctance to participate in the welfare program. MOLC has made it part of its mission to remove that stigma by counseling them that SNAP benefits can be a lifeline to food insecurity, increased health, and economic stability.
In terms of outreach, the Mission of Love Charities is poised to elevate one of its strategic priorities – the Jobs & Workforce Development Program, which provides job training and education to people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and other problems. The Mission is targeting recruitment of Native Americans in our community for these educational programs. In reviewing successful data from past participants who are now gainfully employed, the Mission sees this opportunity as a game changer to enlist more Native American participants. Outreach plans to frequent their local celebrations and events to recruit more SNAP applicants are currently underway.
Finally as NAHM celebrations continue, the Mission plans several upcoming opportunities to celebrate our Native American affiliates. Whether it is signing up more Native American SNAP recruits; enjoying indigenous art, artifacts, exhibits, jewelry, customs, culture and sampling food that represents Native American culture; visiting the Native American Museum in Washington, DC; following Native American influencers online to learn about realistic perspectives on their lives, watching historical Native American documentaries that teach visually and audibly about certain places and times in their lives, and patronizing local National Parks and native American businesses that are preserved solely for that purpose – the Mission is determined to elevate our outreach efforts, service and patronage to the Native American community!
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