Osiyo (spelled phonetically)= Hello in Cherokee
Naksa= Hello in Miskito
When considering who exists within our marginalized populations within the United States, I have a feeling many of us forget to include the first persecuted groups... Native Americans or after my experiences in Nicaragua... indigenous groups.
Living in Western North Carolina I quickly began to realize I now live where part of the Cherokee Nation existed and where many Cherokee people still live today. Sadly, I don't know if I would be as interested in growing my knowledge of the Cherokee if I hadn't met several Miskito people in Nicaragua.
One of the most eye-opening experiences I had in regards to witnessing injustices that the Miskito people face was when I got to participate in a regional assembly for the RAAN. I witnessed people speaking in their native language, expressing their rights to share their opinions and experiences about the faults in health care and access.
Last week, I attended a Cherokee Culture Center dedication at the local library. Several Hayesville residents worked together to create an exhibit in the library and there is a "trail" leading to other exhibits and monuments. Many Cherokee were invited to the event including people who help with cultural preservation and education.
I really appreciated that when a local leader spoke he admitted that the committee from Hayesville all of "European descent" learned along the way and may have made some mistakes in trying to preserve the Cherokee history, but emphasized the effort is to honor the area's early history.
There was a pretty awful moment during the event, though. The library's little auditorium has a huge mural of when "Europeans" first settled Hayesville covering the front wall. My co-worker pointed out that she did find one black women in the mural who is wearing a maid outfit. The worst was when the presentor had the Eastern Band's Principal Chief take a picture with the dedication plaque in front of this horrible mural. Maybe the library can consider adding to the mural the history before the white people came as an even further recognition of the Cherokee.
One of my learning goals while I am living here is to understand more about the Cherokee history and perhaps learn a few words in Cherokee, too. As a person who lives with many privileges, I hope to continue recognizing my brothers and sisters who may face marginalization and to become more educated about their situations. I also realize that perhaps we can never be perfect at trying to close our gaps in society, but we can be vulnerable enough to try and humble to admit mistakes along the journey to learning more.