We believe the 21st century is calling for a more equitable humane existence, greater sharing of resources, and a deeper appreciation of cultural differences. Nearly six million indigenous citizens live in the United States, whose ancestors resided for centuries in original homelands within the continental United States, Hawai’i, and Alaska. At the NATIVE ARTS AND CULTURES FOUNDATION we work with artists and organizations to support cultural revival, foster creativity and economic opportunity, and address social progress, thereby inspiring hope and collective responsibility within Native communities and across the nation.
In this time of profound cultural upheaval, there are many people who are concerned about the direction of our nation. Native nations and other groups who have experienced injustice believe that many of the freedoms and advances that have been made historically are at risk. Native peoples and communities are motivated by values and cultural practices that have been passed down for generations, inspiring a wellspring of creativity and action. There is consensus that amidst transition and upheaval in uncertain times, it is even more important to stay rooted to these values.
As we approach the anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior’s April 4, 1967 Riverside Speech, the relevancy of his words today, fifty years later, have never been more potent. Under this new administration, we are witnessing a dismantling of everything that Martin Luther King Jr. fought for and that two generations of supporters spent the last 50 years improving upon. One only has to look at who occupies the White House; men who are incompetent and have zero experience in public service, and whose actions foretell an ugly America that is hard to imagine. Their slash and burn practices will inevitably feed the giant triplets that Dr. King spoke about and could bankrupt America, lead us into another war, and create life-threatening divisions between races, cultures, and classes.
As truthful and troubling as Dr. King’s Riverside Speech is, his words calling for a “genuine revolution of values” reverberate today. This has always been the advice of our wise ones in indigenous communities. Thus, we are rising to stand for justice and truth. We are arising for those who came before us and for those yet to come. We encourage artists to be courageous and share your creative voice, explore new terrain, and challenge what is wrong. But always move forward with strength, respect, and dignity. Dr. King issues a passionate plea to all citizens, “…the choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history. [Lets hope]… that love is going to have the last word.”