District 12 Indigenous Gathering

USW District 12 recently held an important event centered on Indigenous rights. The Indigenous Gathering, hosted by the Navajo Nation at the Twin Arrows Resort in Arizona, brought together a diverse group of individuals united in their commitment to address Indigenous issues and advance the cause of the United Steel Workers (USW) of District 12. This momentous gathering served as a platform for meaningful discussions and presentations, aiming to foster understanding, support, and partnership between the Union and its Indigenous members.

During the Indigenous Gathering, various perspectives and initiatives concerning Indigenous issues were shared from District 12. Notably, an Arizona politician and Navajo Nation member, Lena Fowler passionately advocated for education, healthcare, and economic development for Native American communities.

LeRoy Shingoitewa, a Hopi Elder and NAU Elder Cultural Advisor, played a vital role in emphasizing the importance of cultural continuity and sharing traditional knowledge with our Indigenous members. The phrase "Ya at eeh," a Navajo greeting that shows respect for Navajo culture and language, was introduced. LeRoy encouraged and inspired them to embrace their identity and pursue opportunities. In talking circles, participants openly shared their experiences of growing up on reservations, grappling with the loss of ancestral knowledge due to forced assimilation, and collectively worked towards strengthening the Union for USW District 12.

The attendees also drew inspiration from District 6's Indigenous program in Canada, engaging in discussions about their vision for the future. They brainstormed district, local, and personal goals to advance Indigenous rights and support their members. Throughout the gathering, a sense of camaraderie and respect flourished, nurturing a strong partnership between the USW and Indigenous communities.

Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nation in Canada conveyed his deep gratitude to the USW for their friendship and dedication to educating people about the truth of colonization's impact on Indigenous communities. He lauded the Union's commitment to fairness and equality, aligning with the collective struggle for rightful recognition of all First Nations people on Turtle Island.

The Indigenous Gathering marked a significant step in supporting and advancing Indigenous rights within USW District 12. The participants' dedication and vision for a brighter future demonstrated the transformative journey towards truth and reconciliation. This gathering showcased the power of unity and understanding in effecting positive change for Indigenous peoples, strengthening the bond between the union and Indigenous communities.

Elias Arismendez