As we look back at 2021 and the many challenges Indian Country faced, it’s important that we recognize and celebrate the resilience of our communities. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact our communities, but our team remained committed to the mission of our organization: to create justice and self-determination for Native Communities through multigenerational power building, organizing, and civic engagement.
We showed up for each other this year unlike ever before and we will continue to show up for one another in 2022.
With the support of our community, including our incredible volunteers, take a look at what we accomplished this past year: [/vc_column_text]
Going into the second year of COVID-19, CNVP was able to partner with a network of Native American community-based organizations. This led to our ability to provide a number of activities and resources for our communities such as a series of virtual COVID-19 town halls with trusted, Native medical professionals; vaccination pop-ups across Los Angeles; and distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the state. Through our virtual and in-person events, we created a safe space for our community members to ask questions and bring their concerns regarding the virus, and how to keep their loved ones safe.
One example is the “Protect Our Elders” virtual event, where we heard testimonials from youth and elders on how the pandemic affected their families and why it’s important to get vaccinated to protect our most vulnerable community members. All of our virtual events were created with the intention of centering community voices and inviting trusted healthcare providers to keep us up to date on the ever-changing virus.
COVID Vaccination Phone Bank
Through our partnership with California Calls, CNVP hired 10 canvassers to make phone calls to our Native American constituents to help them secure vaccine appointments, as well as address any questions or concerns they had about the vaccines. Through our efforts, the team made 15,688 calls, secured 3,554 new contacts who opted to stay connected with us, and secured 89 vaccination appointments for Native American
Back to School Drive-Thru
CNVP hosted a drive-thru event to make sure Native children were supported with back-to-school supplies and protective equipmentas they returned to in-person learning in the fall. More than 200 backpacks were distributed and a dozen vaccines were administered.
CA Special Election Native Town Hall
One of the most powerful ways we can build Native power for the long haul is to make our voices heard at the ballot box. During the CA special election, CNVP provided plenty of opportunities for our community to get involved. We hosted weekly phone banks, text banks, and friend banks to reach out to our constituents, and friends and family to make sure they knew about the recall election. These methods of outreach have proven to be one of the most effective ways to make sure our community was informed and got-out-the-vote, since they were hearing directly from people they knew and trusted. We also hosted informational town halls to talk about the importance of elections and the impact this election would have on Native peoples across California.
COVID-19 Support Groups & Talking Circles
While many of our community members benefitted from our informational town halls, we knew many were apart from their relatives and struggling with the stress, anxiety and mental health challenges that came with COVID-19. CNVP provided mental health supports to its constituent base in the form of a hosted support group facilitated by CNVP partners, Indigenous Circle of Wellness. CNVP also hosted a talking circle that included more than 40 participants on a bi-weekly basis over a 5-month period. CNVP’s youth groups, Native Youth for Justice LA and Nor-Cal Native Youth for Justice also hosted a number of youth COVID-19 events, including informational webinars, a youth-led podcast episode, and other traditional cultural workshops for youth to address COVID-19 related youth mental health supports.
LAUSD Approves $10 Million Towards Indigenous Student Achievement Initiative
As a member of the Indigenous Education Now (IEN) Coalition, CNVP worked with partners, student,s and parents to mobilize community members to leave nearly 100 voicemail messages to the district hotline, send dozens of emails to the board offices, garnered more than 1,000 petition signatures in support of Indigenous Student Achievement initiative, and provided public testimony at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board Meeting. The campaign was successful.
On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, the LAUSD Board of Education unanimously voted to dedicate $10 million to support Indigenous Student Achievement. The intent of the initiative is to bring much-needed academic, health, and mental health relief for Native and Indigenous students that have experienced enormous hardships due to the pandemic.
Pictured above are IEN Coalition members who stood in solidarity with LA Students Deserve at a rally at the LAUSD headquarters.
2nd Annual Indigenous Youth Organizing Academy
In 2021, CNVP hosted the 2nd Annual Indigenous Youth Organizing Academy, with more than 100 Native and Indigenous youth in attendance from across the state. The vision behind this academy stems from a critical need to provide Native youth with a space to develop critical analysis and understanding of the socio-political and economic landscape within the colonial borders of the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere, and to use that analysis to build community organizing skills to leads to taking action in their communities. In addition, the program is designed to empower Native youth to step into leadership roles in their own communities.
We the Resilient Report Release
In partnership with Advancement Project California (APCA) and California Consortium for Urban Indian Health (CCUIH), CNVP released the We The Resilient Report, a crucial report that highlights the strengths and challenges experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives across California. We the Resilient illustrates the critical need for visibility and representation of Native people and voices. While gaps in information remain, We the Resilient provides a discussion point for many socio-economic factors that impact the health and wellness of AIANs in California. Quantitative data is only one aspect of understanding AIANs in California; another critical piece is understanding AIAN communities themselves, how we define power, and what is most important for us to build strong futures. This report carefully weaves together quantitative and qualitative data to create a more robust snapshot of AIANs in California. Together, we are determined to continue to hold on to our way of life and relations to each other and the earth and reject imposed traditions by a capitalist society.
Download the report here: https://canativevote.org/what-we-do/research/
IEN Mural Unveiling
This year, CNVP Youth Organizers, partners, and student base came together to conceptualize and create a mural representation of the youth’s vision of the Indigenous Education Now campaign. Over a four-month period of time, youth worked closely with Joe Galarza, a long-time muralist and well-known artist, musician, and leader in the Native community to come up with the concept and to paint the mural. The vision behind the art piece was deeply rooted in the vision and values of the students and the Indigenous Education Now Campaign. Through this cultural strategy, the youth depicted a future where Native students are grounded in their culture, self-determine their educational experiences, and utilize their education as a form of resistance to oppression as well as a vehicle to liberation. The mural will be circulated through local community-based organizations to continue to build awareness and support of the youth’s vision.
Native Power Building Summit
In 2021, CNVP hosted its first annual Native American Power Building Summit, which sought to build relationships amongst organizers across the state, deepen understanding of integrated voter engagement and organizing, gather input on 2022 statewide campaigns, and provide opportunities to get involved in CNVP.
Keynote speakers Assemblymember James Ramos and Councilwoman Kellie Carillo spoke about building Native political power across the state, and the critical importance of recruiting and electing more Native American elected officials. Participants had the opportunity to build and deepen relationships with one another, as well as learn about key community and policy issues impacting American Indian/Alaska Native communities. The summit closed with participants taking collective action by driving calls into the Riverside School District over the racist incident involving a high school math teacher, and commitments to join the movement in 2022.
Our Team Is Growing:
Our team at the California Native Vote Project remains focused on working towards justice and self-determination for Native American communities through multigenerational power building, organizing, and civic engagement. We are working towards a vision of healthy, powerful, and culturally-thriving Native communities across California and in order to accomplish this, we expanded our team. We were so happy to welcome Joey Williams (Paiute-Shoshone (Kawaiisu) & ChicanX) as Director of Organizing, Liam Walsh (Rincon Luiseño) as Statewide Outreach Manager, and Damian Riley (Miwuk) as Communications Manager. We have been thrilled to have them join our growing team!