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February E-News! | 2021

Kansas City Football Team: #ChangeTheName!

In July 2020, supporters of Running Strong joined together with thousands of other activists to call on the Washington Football Team to drop their offensive name, mascot, and imagery. Thanks to the efforts of many over the years, the team agreed to change their name in a historic win for Native communities across the country.

Later in the year, Super Bowl LV drew 19.6 million viewers as the Kansas City Chiefs took the field, again drawing up the debate of using Native American-based mascots and imagery. Running Strong recognizes that these commercialized versions of Native culture have a real, harmful effect on the development of Native children, who are already fighting to overcome generations of unfair stereotyping in the media. These children deserve to grow up in a country where their long and rich heritage is celebrated, not reduced to a one-dimensional character or sports motif.

That’s why on February 8, we asked our supporters to join us in calling on Kansas City to drop their name and team imagery, and to join us in our mission of creating a better future for happy, healthier Native American youth. By February 25, we collected more than 1,600 signatures from supporters like you who agree it’s time to #ChangeTheName. This weekend, we delivered the petition and signatures to the offices of the Kansas City football team CEO and the NFL commissioner.

Native American people and culture are not mascots; there are hundreds of living and thriving communities across America who are proud to be as diverse and different in their cultures, lifestyles, and celebrations as they remain resilient. Thank you for helping us #ChangeTheName!

Brave Heart Society Calls Home the Culture

Our partner since 1994, the Brave Heart Society celebrated 25 years of cultural leadership in December 2019 with a gathering and visit by Billy Mills.

Running Strong supports the Brave Heart Society’s efforts in the Yankton Sioux Reservation and more.

We recently celebrated the Society’s 16th Annual Waterlily Storytelling Institute gathering as well as the 22nd Annual Isnati Awica Dowanpi Rites of passage for 17 girls.

Running Strong also supported their Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls event in partnership with 350.org and the Chorus Foundation, serving over 500 people — 300 of whom were children under the age of 18. In 2020,

Brave Heart Society was the recipient of a Bush Foundation Community Innovation grant to support their efforts on the Mni Wizipan Wakan Project to restore and preserve the Missouri River Cultural Bioregion.

From holistic community wellbeing to the individual’s relationship with their indigenous identity, the Brave Heart Society is committed to “calling home the culture.”

Our Annual Heat Match Warms Homes of Many

Our six-week Heat Match program on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation closed out this month serving nearly 700 families, including over 50 veterans’ households.

Thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth® these families were able to come to the Running Strong field office on the reservation, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through A Good Home), where their $100 was matched with an addition $100 enabling them to have the minimum $200 required to have a truck come to their home and fill their propane tank.

While no winter is ever easy for the Oglala Lakota families living on the reservation on the Great Plains of South Dakota, this winter was particularly brutal with sustained days of below freezing – and many days of below zero temperatures with windchills in the negative double digits.

WarmStrong and StudyStrong Supplies Find New Homes Across the Country

This past fall and winter, thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, we were able to ensure that thousands of Native American children had the pencils, paper and more they needed to get off to a good school year, as well as providing them with heavy coats to keep them warm all winter long.

For example, in Denver, Colorado, the Denver Indian Family Resource Center distributed 100 backpacks filled with school supplies, 125 winter coats and 50 winter accessories kits with hats, gloves and scarves to 154 children.

“Running Strong has been a huge help, especially during the pandemic,” stated DIFRC staffer Treisa. “This program has helped families stay warm and gets kids excited and prepared for school. The backpacks are like their own portable desks while they learn from home.”

In Mandan, North Dakota, our longtime partner, the Sacred Pipe Resource Center, distributed 125 backpacks with school supplies, 50 coats and winter accessories kits, along with 100 pairs of sturdy winter boots to a total of 300 children.

“The winter items were a special item this year due to the homelessness that has been exploding since the pandemic,” reported SPRC executive director Cheryl Kary who distributed the items in December.

“We had a family that was provided with snow boots for four children,” said Cheryl. “The mother said she would not have been able to afford that many pairs of boots on her own because it would have been a choice of snow boots or food.”

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