February was a busy and chaotic month, but in the best way possible. Whether our team attended legislative sessions and conferences, or participated in town hall meetings and committees, it became obvious that a particular theme permeated the atmosphere: hope, or in the Chickasaw language, anhi.
Anhi (Hope). That is how I feel when I see the phenomenal vaccination programs organized in Tribal communities; simultaneously working to eradicate COVID-19, and also the perception that we are not capable of managing our own affairs. It’s a feeling of comfort in knowing that we are taking care of our elders, the cultural caretakers and language guardians of our traditions. It is the same hope our ancestors felt as they worked to overcome disease while never losing sight of who they were and the land they came from.
Anhi (Hope). It’s what I feel when I see Tribal consultations with the federal government so numerous that we cannot attend all the meetings, nor sum them up in a single post. Hope that this time will be different. Hope that we will have more seats at the table. Hope that our experiences will be heard. Hope that we can rebuild our communities through our vision. Hope that we continue to go forward while remembering our past.
Anhi (Hope). It’s the visceral response I felt when I heard Deb Haaland introduce herself in the Keres language of the Laguna people at her nomination hearing to be the next Interior Secretary. It’s what I felt when I saw Arizona’s Representative Teller appointed to the Department of Transportation as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs. It’s the hope that their appointments in this administration will carve a path for the next generation of Tribal leaders.
Anhi (Hope). It’s the sense of fulfillment knowing that we at AIPI are able to serve Indian Country. I see hope in the eyes of our staff as they learn and grow. It’s what I feel knowing that through our work, we are our ancestor’s greatest dream. It’s the immense gratitude I feel, now that we’re able to add more staff and grow because our funders notice our work and continue to invest in us.
While we continue to weather the impact from the pandemic and political climate, I encourage everyone to remain optimistic and find the anhi (hope) in their own lives and communities. At AIPI, it is our anhi, our hope, that we continue to serve, and is also a reminder that better days for Indian Country are on the horizon.
As Always #BeTheSolution