National Native American Heritage Month and Active Reflection During Evaluation 2019 by Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro

Aaniin indinawemaaganag! (Hello colleagues/relatives!) I’m Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro, a Doctoral student in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota, Health Educator/Evaluator at Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, and Program Co-Chair for the Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation TIG. 

Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro
Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro

I hope this post finds you amidst safe travels to brisk Minnesota (seriously, bring a warm jacket) or enjoying calming activities before the excitement of Evaluation 2019. As you prepare your bags, presentations, and business cards, I encourage you to also take some time to actively reflect on and decide how you’d like to show up in the spaces you will be entering this next week.

Mni Sota Makoce — “the land where the waters reflect the skies”, or Minnesota, is the traditional homelands of the Dakota and Ojibwe peoples before colonization attempted to eliminate them through forced removal, killing, and assimilation. They are the original, contemporary, and forever caretakers of the beautiful land we are fortunate to be on throughout Evaluation 2019. As a visitor (or current inhabitant) to these lands, and in recognition of November as National Native American Heritage Month, I urge you to learn this history and seek ways to be an ally; someone who actively acknowledges the effects of colonization and marginalization, and actively supports their fight for justice.

Rad Resource: Check out IPE TIG’s Indigenous Minnesota Resource Guide; as well as MNEA’s awesome example of allyship with their Land Acknowledgement Statement posted throughout the conference. 

The annual meeting is an opportunity for friends and colleagues to connect; form new connections; showcase what we have been learning about; and discover new ideas and pathways for innovation. Unfortunately, these activities often occur without active reflection on how harm is being reproduced for AEA members who identify with historically marginalized groups. Many folks who otherwise claim the title of “ally” to one of more of these groups, tend to forget what it means to be an ally during this week. So, here are some…

Hot Tips:  

  • This week can become kind of a blur, but a simple hello or smile can help someone wearing a “first-time” or “graduate student” ribbon feel welcome in this new and intimidating space.
  • Pay attention, and offer your support. If someone looks overwhelmed, confused or upset, reach out and ask how things are going or offer resources you may have. 
  • Equally as important, recognize when someone may need space for themselves. ***Check out tomorrow’s AEA365 post about Healing Spaces and Wednesday’s post about MNEA’s Meditation Space!
  • Practice compassion. Attendees travel from throughout the globe bringing with them a variety of experiences, knowledge, and personalities; before reacting or worse, ignoring, attempt to see from their perspective and respond with respect and professionalism. 
  • Branch out. Take some time to attend sessions or events that may typically be outside of your comfort zone. Check out sessions sponsored by Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation, Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse, or Disabilities and Underrepresented Populations TIGS; among the many others. Attend the Diversity Social on Thursday night and/or grab coffee with someone you just met!     

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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