With Indigenous Peoples’ Day upon us, I wonder if we’ll remember our rich Native American legacy after October 11. We have a long way to go in liberating our history from the shackling perspective of European Colonialism.
The majority of what we learn about America is largely manipulated by white Christian patriarchy. If we don’t reform our intention to be equitable and inclusive in our education systems and public spaces we’ll continue indoctrinating our children and students with narrow, ignorant mindsets while keeping the door to institutionalized racism open.
Alarmingly, most state and local curriculum standards end the study of Native American history before 1900. The gravity of celebrating the survival and contemporary culture of Native peoples from their own standpoint has never been more vital.
As Almighty Allah rightfully reminds us in the Holy Quran 4:136: “O ye who believe! Be strict in observing justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred. Whether he be rich or poor, Allah is more regardful of them both than you are. Therefore follow not low desires so that you may be able to act equitably. And if you conceal the truth or evade it, then remember that Allah is well aware of what you do.”
Perhaps one day we’ll also give a just platform to other minorities like my Ahmadiyya Muslim Community whose peace-loving, bridge-building leader Khalifa Mirza Masroor Ahmad values outreach and connection with indigenous tribes and their respective chiefs. American Indians honor and belong to true American heritage in more ways than Google can inform.
As an Ahmadi Muslim American high school teacher, I recognize the healing in replacing dangerously entitling observances like Columbus Day with grounding and enlightening celebrations like Indigenous People’s Day is just a start.
Zahir Muhammad Mannan is Outreach Secretary of the Baitul Aman “House of Peace” Mosque in Meriden.