Every second Monday of October, we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor the valuable contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to the world. Throughout history, Indigenous people have cherished and safeguarded their unique cultures, preserving their land, language, spirit, tradition, and knowledge for generations to come. This day is an opportunity to honor and recognize the resilience and beauty of Indigenous communities. AmeriCorps has a longstanding commitment to supporting Indigenous communities, partnering with them to address their unique critical issues, and leveraging the culture of service that has existed in tribal communities for generations.
This year, AmeriCorps has announced $7 million in funding to support Native Nations and native-led nonprofit organizations to address community needs such as education, mental health, food security, climate change, habitat preservation, and more. In addition to the grant funding, AmeriCorps has invested nearly $1 million in education awards for those who serve.
Learn more about how we partner to support conservation efforts.
Across the country, Indigenous AmeriCorps members, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers, and alumni, along with our partner organizations, make a difference through service.
In Anchorage, Alaska, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers, like Eva, with RurAL Cap’s Elder Mentors, focus on language revitalization in Alaska Native communities across the state.
“Elders are priceless in the classroom,” Eva said.
As part of the program, Elder Mentors, directly from the communities they serve, help Alaska Native children learn their traditional languages to ensure that the history, cultures, and languages are not lost.
“Service is important because that is the history of our culture. We do service to our people, service to our families, and if you do service to your community, it brings health benefits to people,” she said.
In Central Minnesota, Gerilyn, a member of the White Earth Nation and AmeriCorps alumna who served through Ampact’s Home Energy Initiative, is helping to tackle climate change. During her service, she conducted home energy audits and weatherization projects to help low-income families in over five counties make their homes safer from extreme weather, like heat and cold, during power outages and floods. She also helped make homes more energy efficient. Thanks to her training and experience, she landed a position as a weatherization auditor at the MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Agency. Gerilyn's commitment to her work is truly inspiring.
“At AmeriCorps, I learned on the job skills trainings that I needed to assist low-income families to make their homes safer and energy efficient. In my current position, I know that I am not only making a difference for the environment, but also for the families I assist day in and day out. The skills and trainings that I experienced and received during my AmeriCorps service got my foot in the door in the weatherization industry.”
Watch Gerilyn speaking at the White House Summit on Building Climate Resilient Communities.
In Honolulu, Hawaii, Niepas, an AmeriCorps member serving in the VISTA program, aids Kōkua Kalihi Valley in its mission to heal, reconcile, and alleviate the suffering of Kalihi Valley. Serving in their Pacific Voices program, Niepas supports after-school tutoring, cultural education, and traditional arts and crafts to the youth of Kalihi Valley.
“They [Kōkua Kalihi Valley] help a lot of people. And the kids in Pacific Voices are just awesome!... Before I was shy to talk to people. But now that I have the experience of working as a [AmeriCorps member with] VISTA, I can go out into communities and help out.”
Have a passion for serving children? Meet Niepas, an @AmeriCorps member serving in VISTA. She supports Kōkua Kalihi Valley in its mission to provide after-school tutoring, cultural education, and traditional arts and crafts to the youth of Kalihi Valley. https://t.co/uRKgSh4q5x pic.twitter.com/JWjM1K7EQK— AmeriCorps VISTA (@AmeriCorpsVISTA) October 3, 2023
As AmeriCorps partners and serves with American Indian and Alaska Native communities, it is important to recognize the significance of Indigenous Peoples Day. This holiday celebrates the rich history, culture, and contributions of Indigenous peoples, while also acknowledging the injustices and barriers they have faced. By recognizing and honoring Indigenous Peoples Day, we can work toward breaking down these barriers and building bridges toward a more equitable and just society for all.