tv American Indian Heritage Month Celebration SFGTV November 21, 2021 7:45pm-9:01pm PST
>> and the office of mayor london breed would like to welcome you all to the american indian heritage celebration. my name is ariana. i was born and raised here in san francisco american indian community. i currently work at the california consortium and serve on the board of directors of the american indians of san francisco. i have the immense honor of being your masters of ceremony this evening. [cheering and applause] >> before we get into our program, i want to acknowledge mr. tom phillips, who could not be here this evening but i attended this event for almost my entire life and i remember
seeing mr. phillips as the emcee here every year. it's an honor to follow in his footsteps. [cheering and applause] >> i know i have a couple years to get up to his caliber as an emcee but i'm going to do my best tonight. at this time, we would like to acknowledge that we are on the unceded land of the original inhabitants of the san francisco peninsula. in accordance with their tradition, they have never seeded, loss, or forgot their responsibility as the caretakers of this place and all people that reside in their traditional territory. we recognize we benefit from living on their homeland. we honor the relatives and elders of the community and recognize their sovereign right as first peoples. now i want to introduce -- for
our opening prayer. >> i just want to open up with a prayer for everyone. we've all been through trying times and i just want to ask the ancestors of this land that we know of for the ancestors and ask them for permission to share our songs and open up with a prayer. for the ancestors, i ask your permission to be able to share what we have tonight with all goodness, with love, kindness. [speaking indigenous language] >> for this beautiful gathering and those who participated in making it happen, for those who
will participate, all those who came to honor us as native people from all over this world and for this land, our ancestral land as native people. i ask you to continue to bless and watch over everyone, continue to watch over and give good health and protect everyone from all harm and danger and we ask that you bring your sweet spirit down so that we can enjoy one another with the laughter and the happiness and the stories. i ask tonight that everyone that walks in this building that you will protect them, you will watch over and guide them and help them to understand our way of life. >> thank you for that beautiful opening prayer. with that, it's time to bring our dancers in for our grand
singers for being here. at this time, i would like to call up my mentor and executive director of the american indian cultural center san francisco to offer a few opening remarks. [cheering and applause] [speaking indigenous language] >> thank you arianna for being our emcee tonight. we wanted to acknowledge that usually this time of year tom is here with us and he's been our emcee for a very long time. he is not able to be here, but we wanted to acknowledge tom and
just send him good spirits and if you all could around of applause for tom phillips. [applause] >> thank you. it's an honor for me to be up here in front of you as your host here tonight. i want to thank all those that made this happen tonight. it's been a really tough year for -- well, year and a half for all of us throughout covid-19. this is a special time for us because we're able to come together and be together and hear these songs and hear these prayers and just honor our community. i just want to say i feel really blessed that we get to do that today. i also want to thank the all nations drum for being here tonight. if we could get a round of
applause for all nations drum. [cheering and applause] >> all nations has been performing for us every year, so it's really special to have them here tonight. also, for all of our dancers, if we can give a round of applause for all of our dancers, a big oh for our california dancers. [cheering and applause] >> tonight is going to be very special as we're going to be honoring the american indian cultural center advisory committee. can i see the hands of where our advisory committee is [applause] >> it's very special to be able to honor them tonight. as executive director of the american indian cultural center, i wouldn't be able to do this work without their guidance, their input, and all of their historical knowledge of the
american indian center and all the work they have done to make sure the american indian community is visible here in san francisco. i just want to thank them and it's exciting to honor them tonight. i also want to shout-out to twice as good tonight. we have them here performing. so after -- yes, after tonight, we'll be able to hear some good music from them. i also want to remind everybody because of covid-19, we ask that you do keep your mask on, you practice social distancing, and unfortunately we're not able to have food this year, but we have a dessert for you on the way out. we want to thank verna for that from friendship house. thank you. [applause] >> as i look around, i want to thank everybody here. i see so many people who have supported the american indian community here and i want to say
thank you. i am really excited for tonight. i see the american indian health center here, friendship house here, the american indian cultural district, indian ed, so just want to say hello to everybody and thank you for being here. i am going to hand the mic over the arianna who will introduce the mayor. >> thank you april for taking time to share those words with us. as many of you know, it's difficult advocating for our community, advocating for our people at a government level, whether it's local, state, or federal. it's not something that is easy for us to do. we try, but it gets easier when we have elected officials that will go to vat for our community. in san francisco, we're lucky to have elected officials that do such thing. at this time i have the great honor of calling up mayor london breed to give a few remarks.
thank you so much for being here with us this evening. [cheering and applause] >> thank you so much. it is really great to see so many people back at city hall and it is especially delightful to celebrate american indian heritage month in san francisco. [cheering and applause] >> we know the disparity that has existed with this community for far too long. that's why it's important for me here in san francisco to make a very powerful statement. when this community came together and advocated for resources, the city made an
unprecedented investment of $3.9 million to help -- [cheering] >> to help with various organizations, businesses, health and wealth and disparities that exist in this community. it wasn't what the city said we wanted to do, it was what this community said that they wanted to see. [cheering and applause] >> and as someone who come from a community where sometimes people aren't listening, it is so important that we as elected leaders, we open our ears and listen with our hearts and understand the challenges and make the appropriate investment. our president joe biden just held the first tribal nations summit in the white house in this country. [cheering] >> one of the first american
indians is serving as secretary of the interior in this country. [cheering] >> extraordinary gains, but we know that there is so much more work to do. just recently i met with a number of people to talk about a building, a historic building that centers around heritage, culture, housing, a place here potentially in the american indian historic district and i am committed to doing everything i can to spot this -- support this endeavor so the american indian cultural center april, has a place to call home. [cheering and applause] >> there is a lot of power when we come together. there is a lot of power and love
in this room for transformative change. so i am looking forward to continuing the work that we know has to be done for that transformative change. april knows that i, myself use to run a cultural center. i know how hard it is to bring people together, to create great events like this, but i also understand that it is important that we continue to do this, that we continue to up lift our community, that we continue to support and up lift our artists, that we maintain a lot of those traditions that need to be passed on to the next generation. so today, as we celebrate here in city hall, we acknowledge that. we acknowledge what we need to continue to do every single year to empower and support this community.
i want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of it. it is truly my honor. april, i want to -- at this time, on behalf of the city and county of san francisco, present you with a certificate officially declaring it american indian heritage month in the city and county of san francisco. thank you all so much. [cheering and applause] >> now let's celebrate! [cheering and applause]
>> the american indian advisory committee has been a key component in our community for helping establish the american indian cultural center as a virtual center. they played a key part in establishing an american indian cultural district here in san francisco, so we're here to honor them here today. if you like, we can have you stay down here. it's up to you if you can come up here. okay. come on up. i just want to be mindful. >> so the american indian cultural center will be honoring you today with an award and some gifts. i would like to share that with you. can you bring up the awards? so everyone on the american
indian cultural center advisory committee has played a huge part in making our cultural center what it is now. it is a virtual center and they played an immense role in getting us to where we are today. i'm just going to read the certificate of recognition that each of our committee members will be receiving today. so it reads, to celebrate american indian heritage month and in honor of your years and in some cases decades of work on behalf of the american indian cultural center of the san francisco bay area for your dedication -- on behalf of the american indian cultural center for your work on international indigenous communities and tribal communities. we the board of directors and excoup uhtive director of the american indian cultural center acknowledge and declare today
november 18, 2021, american indian advisory council day and honor all american indian cultural advisory board who advanced our effort to create a new cultural center for the san francisco bay area. we honor and give thanks for your kinship, knowledge, and leadership that has led to a virtual cultural center with an achievable vision and achievable plan for a space for the next seven generations. thank you for your stewardship. [cheering and applause] >> the american indian cultural center would like to recognize november 18, 2021, as the american indian advisory council day. so we're going to honor you this day for all of your work. thank you. i'm going to read each of your names and will be handing you an award and necklace and all these beautiful gifts.
staff also obtained these beautiful shaws for all our honorees so we will take a moment to shawl everyone. ls fo honorees so we will take a moment to shawl everyone. >> as many of you know, but some may not, every tribe has their own tradition and customs for honoring someone. intertribal communities, we do the best of what we know and what we got. in our way, we honor with gifts and shawls and blankets, all types of things. that's why we have these gifts for our honorees.
>> as april mentioned earlier, this past year and a half or however many months it's been has hit our community so hard. our community, unfortunately we lost a lot of local heroes this past year, but it doesn't mean we can't take the time to honor them. that's what we want to do at this time. we want to honor three amazing local heroes who we
unfortunately lost, but their legacy continues to live on. i will go ahead and read their bios. i will call up their families at this time, so can i please have the family make your way up as i continue reading their bios. so violent, who was a staff member there and was known as a powerful community elder. she was a member of the tribe. violent dedicated 25 years of her life to the american indian health center. for several of those years, she worked as a clinical director of the family and child guidance, the behavioral health department. her commitment to the community was so strong and evident that even when violet retired, she arranged her schedule so she could continue work one full day a week, packing her schedule
with six or seven clients each day. we remember her wisdom, loving smile, warmth, sense of humor and love for her family and daughter. please give a round of applause for violet as we present her family with a certificate from the american indian cultural center. [applause] >> we're also honoring janet king, who we lost earlier this year. it is with love and honor that we remember janet king who was of the tribe of north carolina. she was many things to many people, a friend, daughter, mother, sister, community keeper, leader, mentor, and elder. in her life, as well as in her work, she was warm, gentle, and clear and supported individuals across all spectrums.
she was a pillar for our community who advocated for the rights and benefits of native american people and educated staff members, lawmakers and funders on topics ranging from historical trauma to culturally specific interventions. the native community is saddened by janet's untimely passing and will continue the work she pursued. the lessons she taught us are also with us. [applause] >> our third local hero is helen wakazu. we were deeply saddened by the loss of a great leader. she is from the navajo nation. her legacy lives on today. she was the chief executive officer of a residential substance abuse organization for american indian that she
cofounded in 1963. the c.e.o. of n.a.c. and helen were married for almost 40 years. she was the beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and aunty. she was motivated by compassion and helped people who lost their way in life to find it. through their work, people connected to what had been lost. helen had a twinkle in her eye and made you feel like you are your best self, even if you didn't know her very well. she reminded us that our ancestors planted seeds and paved way for us to continue. at this time, the staff will be presenting the families of these individuals with a certificate that i will read at this time. [applause] >> the certificate reads, to
celebrate american indian heritage month and in honor of the years and decades of work on behalf of the american indian community of the san francisco bay area, intertribal communities and international indigenous communities, we the board of directors and executive director of the american indian cultural center acknowledge a lifetime of work and dedication across indian country whose efforts advance the attention to the lack of healthcare and health disparities for the american indian people in california. we give thanks to their leadership for laying the foundation for future generations to be leaders in the american indian community in the bay area. now presenting the certificate to the family of helen wakazu. [applause]
>> and to the family of violent lundford. [applause] >> and to the family of janet king. [applause] >> at this time, we're going to give the families each a moment to speak on the legacy that their loved ones create in this world. first we're going to the family of violet. >> instead, martin wakazu will
speak for violet. [applause] >> thank you, my name is martin. i first met violet in the mid '70s. she was a heck of a softball player, but she always had that one quality in her, inside her. she was always a positive person, always encouraging others, talking positively, but her culture, her family and her friends. she worked for the american indian health center for 25 years. 25 years, a quarter of a century. her perseverance, courage, and
compassion was evident in any interaction she had with a client as a therapist. on behalf of the american indian health center and violet's family, thank you american indian cultural district. >> cultural center. >> we're the same thing. >> okay. [applause] >> thank you marty for those words. now we're going to call up helen's daughter crystal to share a few words. >> good evening everyone. okay, on behalf of my family, i would like to thank mayor london breed, the american indian cultural center and the city of san francisco for recognizing our mom for her contribution to
the native community in the san francisco bay area. my mom was born on the navajo reservation. she came to san francisco at age 18 after a government boarding school in utah. she worked as a housekeeper and nanny, a retail store stock clerk, pricing and stocking dolls and airline safety equipment maker and tester at c.j. henry and volunteering for the church. she participated in gatherings at the american indian center, where she and others transplanted here after boarding school formed a small, but tight-knit community. she worked as the friendship house receptionist and bookkeeper and then c.e.o. she dedicated her life's work to the friendship house. senator mark leno called it the
jewel on jewel avenue. she helped others reconnect with their spirituality and reuniting families. mom would say, what else would i want to do with my life? after mom's passing, governor gavin newsom wrote us and said it's hard to measure just how much of an impact she has had on our city and the state of california, but the thousands of healthy and recovered families are any indication, it's one that will be felt for generations to come. she would love that. mom's love for her people was pure and genuine, as was her love for the city of san francisco. while she was born in new mexico. she considered the san francisco bay area her home. we are truly thankful to all of you, the mayor, the american indian cultural center, the beautiful native american people, and my mom would enthusiastically say first nations, the lovely dancers that
always made her so proud and mostly to her city of san francisco. we appreciate your honoring our phenomenal mom's memory and continuing her legacy. [applause] >> we would now like to pass the mic to the daughter of janet king, if you would like to share a few words. >> hi, my name is coralee. janet is my mom. i want to say thank you to the american indian cultural center for giving her this honor today. i think that, you know, my mom was -- she really knew how to embody that special dynamic medicine that so many indigenous
women do, in that she really balanced her tactics for justice. in the public arena, she brought her aggression against the injustices of the settler state. in those more private moments that she had many more of, with her relatives, with all of you, with me, she had a more gentle and i would say even more potent medicine. she had a way of using her decades of experience in the community to bring a story forward that would be just what you needed to hear, and that would let you know that you're not alone, that you're not crazy, and that you're going to be okay. i know that so many people in this room have had those moments and had those stories with her and i want to especially thank all of you for continuing to let her legacy live on in the way
that you embody those memories for the rest of your lives and you hand them to your children and the children in our community. i have a little book at home that i had for 20 years and you know, those of you who know my mom, she is really funny. i would write down things that she would say that were really funny or sometimes really profound. i was looking at it the other day. there was a quote from her that said, this is her voice. she said i'll know that i met my life's goal, i have achieved my life's goal if the generations that come after me don't have to suffer as much as the generations before them. even though her life was too short, her death was a shock to all of us, i also know that she did achieve her life's goal. so, i just want to thank you all for being part of that journey with her and with us.
>> thank you all nations for that memorial song. at this time, we're going to call out our dancers, our california dancers. [cheering] >> they may not have heard me the first time so at this time we're going to call out our round valley dancers, they may take a minute to come out from the back. [cheering and applause] >> in the meantime, while they get lined up, how are we feeling about the event?
let me hear you. let me hear you. [cheering] >> i don't know if i felt it. let me feel it. [cheering and applause] >> okay, you are telling me that i'm holding this emcee thing down. thank you. okay, i think our dancers and singers are good to go. round valley, you have the floor. [cheering and applause] >> thank you for having us.
>> let's hear one more oh for our round valley dancers and singers. thank you all so much for coming out and sharing your gifts with us. at this time we're now going to bring out our intertravel powwow dancers one more time for some exhibition dancing. i think we're going to get start with the women's styles. so can i call out our women dancers. all nations, if you could give them an intertravel song when they're ready. so all our women's style powwow dancers, this is your exhibition time.
>> so our last performance of the night, we will have the red lightning women power singers come up. so red lightning women power, now is your time. while our singers get lined up, i was just notified that the assessor, recorder for san francisco is present and his office did prepare a certificate for our honorees, both the cultural center advisory board honorees, as well as the honorees of our local heroes that passed. i am going to take a moment to read one of them here.
in recognition of the honorees unwavering compassionate leadership as -- sorry. okay. this one is specific to helen. i'll read this one. they all say similar language. in recognition of helen's unwavering compassion and leadership as the chief executive officer of friendship house association of american indian, a residential substance abuse organization for american indian s that she cofounded. her work enabled american indians to heal from substance abuse. her holistic approach that utilizes american indian cultural practices and western approaches for substance abuse and recovery and prevention gave people an opportunity to recover their lives. helen's legacy of perseverance through institutionalized
oppression is an embodiment of resilience and source of inspiration for all. [applause] >> that's an example of the certificate that will be presented to our honorees, which we're honoring their legacy today. this is an example of the certificate that will be presented to the advisory committee for the cultural center. in recognition for your unwavering leadership and pressure -- reservation of american indian cultural in san francisco, the establishment of the american indian cultural center, a first of its kind in the united states will benefit generations to come. san francisco is grateful for your efforts during the pandemic when you ensured that native families had access to food and emergency funding. during this unprecedented time, we need only to look to you as a body for inspiration.
thank you for your support for the city and county of san francisco. i wish you the best. those will be presented to the advisory board. let's give a round of applause to all of our honorees once again. [cheering and applause] >> april will go around and hand thouz -- those out. now it's time for red lightning power women to take the stage.
>> thank you. the last song was composed by fawn wood and it means you look good, all you women singing. thank you. [applause] >> let's have another round of applause for our red lightning women power singers. thank you. [cheering and applause] >> before we wrap up, i wanted to take a moment to acknowledge assessor recorder joaquin. we know you're in attendance with us. thank you for being here with us. [cheering and applause]
>> with that, it is time to wrap up our event. it has been a beautiful event, but all good things must come to an end. thank you all for being here. i do have a few quick reminders before we go. one is that there is a photo backdrop to the left, my left, your right, in that light court over there. if you want to take pictures with an aicc backdrop, that's there. there is also a to go dessert you can get when you exit to this side of the building. please do not eat it in here. we're not supposed to eat in city hall. thank you to all our singers and dancers for coming out and for making this an amazing event. happy american indian heritage month. [cheering and applause]
country, but always reminded us that as indigenous people we didn't actually have a place. what we were thought of continuously was as savages and less than, that the white man came to save us. >> when i first saw the early day statue, i think it brought me back to the time of my ancestors. i think that's where genocide started. >> that was a time when people were being hunted down and slaughtered and bounties were placed on their heads. not only were people murdered, our culture was stripped from us. >> prior to my lifetime, our families were still in hiding. i think some of the folks do not understand some of the very first laws that were created and what is now called the state of california was extermination laws that legalized the killing of native people.
>> i remember specifically someone had painted in red beneath again side and they put a wine bottle in the hand of the missionaries who was leaning down to hand this bottle to the indian man who was seated on the ground. it was a powerful statement about genocide and the distortion of history and what the true history is. >> i think that we have to remove all of these stereotypes and strip the world of this racism in order to build it back up with factually correct history and teach people not only native american people behave like this. we're all people, the same as you. we have a 9:00 to 5:00 job. we go to school. we're also different because our history and our ancestors and culture and arts make us different. >> public art is very powerful, as we can see for 126 years, the
common imagery was upholding white supremacy. it's important that public arts also evolved and what was accepted and appropriate and apparent 120 years ago is not so any longer. >> i think that it's important that the statue went down the way that it did, with indigenous people coming out from all different walks and different places. that it's important for our younger generation to see that we can change what history has put up that depicts us. [♪♪♪] >> that's powerful to know that selectivity we're able to remove that symbol. we are now able to occupy that
space in our own voice. >> the native american movements that were conducted in the 1970s are extremely important to me because my grandpa was at the forefront of them and he was making the world a better place so that i would grow up in a world where i had one less issue to face and my generation could start from where he worked and continue working from that point. >> the struggle has been going on for many years to remove this statue, but it's only one key in all of san francisco's history and all of this country's history about the misrepresentation of how this land was developed and colonized. >> we have to fight to regain our languages, have access to our lands, to keep our religions from being illegal. that is the legacy, that we are in a continuous struggle. >> i think those are ways of
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