We were honored to have Echohawk Lefthand, member of the Dine (Navajo) nation and OPS Director of the Native Indigenous Center Education Program, join us to educate us on the, past, present, and future for First Nations people in the United States. Mr. Lefthand laid out the history from relations between the Europeans and First Nations people, beginning with Columbus in 1492. 
 
Relations between European descendants and First Nations people have taken many forms over the years, including eras of removal, restoration, assimilation, reorganization, termination, and self-determination. This history has led to a number of adverse outcomes for First Nations people, including cultural genocide and historical trauma. These outcomes have been exacerbated over time as more generations have passed, leading to a loss of cultural identity, socioeconomic and health disparities, and increased suicide rates among First Nations people. 
 
Mr. Lefthand's role as Director of the Native Indigenous Center Education Program is to provide resources, community, and cultural enrichment for First Nations students in the Omaha Public School system. First Nations students make up less than 1% of OPS students and are often considered an "invisible minority." Mr. Lefthand works with students to build their resilience in a culturally appropriate way while also reaffirming cultural heritage and customs. 
 
What can we do to help? Mr. Lefthand laid out a few different steps to make Omaha more welcoming to First Nations people. Step one is recognizing that First Nations people are here in Omaha and we may not be aware of their historical traumas. From there, we can find First Nation organizations in our communities and reach out to them, looking for opportunities for partnership. Finally, it is crucial that we make sure our spaces are welcoming to First Nations people, especially urban youth. 
 
We thank Mr. Lefthand for sharing his knowledge with our club and for taking the time to educate us on how we can make Omaha more inclusive for First Nations people. 
 
~Adam Leong
Guest Journalist
 
 
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