This week marks the start of Native American Heritage Month. This isn't going to be the blog that you expected about how we're celebrating and honoring our Indigenous communities.
Many of you know that two years ago we started the Indigenous Backcountry Scholarship with Deenaalee Hodgdon, founder of On The Land Media and a Coalition Ambassador. It was one of most fulfilling and important initiatives we've launched at Coalition.
When it came time to sit down and consider what our third year could look like together, we listened to the all-Indigenous committee that oversaw the scholarship. And what they said was that it was time to end:
"What followed that first winter while we built the scholarship was continual amazement and gratitude for how much Coalition was down to throw down to get more Native people on the slopes and how much time and effort you took in making sure it was successful. Having never been part of a scholarship selection committee and navigating the outdoor industry, your guidance and mentorship was key in bringing together the first cohort of Indigenous Backcountry Scholarship recipients.
Now, three years down the road, we have had two cohorts of recipients being the most active in the program. It has been a blessing to witness each athlete grow in their journeys with snowsports and see projects blossom over the years from Catherine's XC program to Nahanni's movie and collaboration with Coalition, to Geneva's involvement with Women of Winter and Ellen and Connor's scholarship program with IKON.
All of this to say, after much reflection, we have decided to bring the Indigenous Backcountry Scholarship to a close. We will continue to collectively bring more Indigenous peoples into the snow sport world and hope that we can add Coalition's offerings for this year to the Ikon Scholarship packages that Ellen and Connor have pulled together. This will hopefully showcase solidarity between scholarship efforts and will help highlight Coalition Snow and all the work y'all have done with us."
Supporting Indigenous people and communities is listening. It's accepting. It's moving forward in collaboration and not pushing your own agenda forward.
So we gracefully and wholeheartedly accepted their request and will continue to partner with the individuals of the committee and cohorts in the ways in which we are asked.
This is likely not the news that you wanted to hear, and we understand the frustration, concern, and disappointment that this may bring to some of you. But it's the best way forward because we are moving forward together.
This is not a closed door. It's an open invitation for further collaboration.
As you consider how to reflect upon and celebrate Native American Heritage Month, I have three things to share with you that will put a smile on your face:
- If you're in Reno, head on over to Sawabemuhano for their celebration on November 10th which includes a Native-Made Marketplace, speakers from Nevada Indian Commission and Stewart Indian School, basket weaving demonstrations, wellness workshops, and more.
- If you want to get involved and learn more about Native issues, check out IllumiNative, a Native woman-led racial & social justice org building power for Native people by amplifying Native voices, stories, and issues.
- One of my favorite Indigenous thought leaders is Charlie Amáyá Scott. You can give them a follow here.
Thanks for your understanding friends :)