Hi I’m Tecpaxochitl (tec/pa/sho/chee) Mireya Gonzalez, MPH, Purepecha-Nahuatl and Indigenous IBCLC and organizer of this fundraiser.
Indigenous Milk Medicine Week (IMMW) is coming up in August during National Breastfeeding Month and after World Breastfeeding Week, and for the fourth year in a row I’m stuck wondering if our Indigenous and Native American community here in Los Angeles Tongva Lands will have the opportunity to celebrate it despite the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declaring the first week of August as World Breastfeeding Week, the second week of August as Indigenous Breastfeeding Week, the third week of August as Asian Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week, and the fourth week of August as Black Breastfeeding Week in 2020 with the goals of "advancing breastfeeding as part of good nutrition, health protection, food security, and poverty reduction."
Every year it pains me to know that another year will go by without any IMMW programming.
Part of the issue is funding, which with the support of the community at large we can resolve.
The main issue is that our Indigenous and Native American communities still need to know more about this very important week.
Another barrier is that our communities have very low chest/breastfeeding rates with zero culturally, linguistically and spiritually appropriate lactation support and educational opportunities. The outreach and lactation/perinatal health promotion is just not happening and much less in a way that is culturally meaningful without perpetual colonial harms.
Our grassroots organization Chichihualtia, partners and collaborators have a vision for uplifting Ancestral Lactation and Indigenous family wellness and increasing Native visibility during World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month.
Every year folks reach out to me inquiring how they can support IMMW in Tongva Lands and invite me personally to speak about this week. This year I’m done speaking and presenting; I’m in action and in need of your financial support.
What is concerning is that the 2010-2020 Census Native American and Indigenous population trends for Los Angeles County reveal three key findings: a slowdown in population growth, an aging of the population, and an increase in the proportion of Native Americans who are multiracial. Los Angeles is also home to Native Americans who’ve relocated from other parts of the country, many through the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Urban Indian Relocation Program and many Indigenous neighbors from Latin America who may not always speak Spanish. For reference, the Native American population includes people having origins in any of the original peoples of North, South America, and Central America, who maintain tribal affiliation and/or community attachment. What’s more news to folks is that for Native American alone or in combination with another ethnicity, Los Angeles has the largest population among all counties followed by Maricopa County, Arizona and Tulsa County, Oklahoma.
What does this tell us?
Indigenous identity and visibility matter especially in perinatal and prevention health promotion and education. It also matters to ask Hispanic or Latine populations whether or not they identify as Native American.
At our IMMW events we can create safe spaces to discuss our identities, indigeneity, and the need for unity and healing among our relations. Like the three crop sisters (corn, beans and squash) we are stronger united because we fortify one another in our Indigenous resistance and resilience.
We're all returning to our traditions reclaiming the same healing foodways and Indigenous milk!
With your financial support, we can create IMMW programming in 2023 and every year!
A win for everyone including allies seeking to support and build relationships with Indigenous and Native lactation care providers.
It’s also a great opportunity to promote the lactation/perinatal health fields to self-identifying Indigenous and Native American folks and offer encouragement and mentorship to join the fields!
Why have I not applied for grants?
We don’t have a 501c3 and are particular about who we partner with, where we get our funding from and from who. Many also come with extensive requirements. It’s also important for us to do this work with others who hold values that are in alignment with us as Indigenous and reconnecting people and focus on our intentions rather than impact. We are also exploring ways to be more inclusive of all Native American and Indigenous tribal, reconnecting and self-identifying peoples.
I strongly believe community health and lineage healing belong in the hands of the people and should not be governed by public health policy or philanthropy.
Perinatal and Lineage Health are for us to reclaim.
It is out of our Indigenous resilience and sovereignty that we continue to build on the lineage legacies of the generations before us to improve the health of the generations that follow.
This is a Lineage-Health Initiative.
Ancestral healing cannot be funded and governed by philanthropy.
Our cultural restoration and generational healing are to be attained and sustained by the people first.
Thank you for being an active ally and participant in the restoration of Indigenous lands, lactation and lineage-healing.