This question was posed during a conversation between Leadership Austin’s program director and a member of the Native American community, who is intertribal (existing between tribes) and mixed-race (Native American and white). What is most striking about this question is that it moves us beyond past images, stereotypes, and tropes of Native American and Indigenous communities. It forces us to rethink what we have been taught and acknowledge what we don’t know.
Native Americans are often remembered and acknowledged through the months of October – November, particularly during Columbus Day, Halloween (when people dawn costumes) and Thanksgiving. However, some areas within our region are intentionally observing Indigenous People Day (October) and Native American Heritage Month (November) to raise awareness and counter limiting narratives.
In a region like Greater Austin, where Native Americans appear to make up about 1% of the population, it is important to look deeper and understand the complexities of Native American and indigenous identities. Therefore, in this conversation, our panelists will explore the question of “What does it mean to be Native American in contemporary American society?”, through the following themes – identity, terminology, historical context vs. present-day, demographics & population data, current challenges, and community solutions.