Published: November 1, 2021

Before reading this post, we encourage you to read our virtual land acknowledgement

The following statement is from SEIU 503 Executive Director Melissa Unger and President Mike Powers on Native American Heritage Month 2021:

November is Native American Heritage Month, and we are excited to lift up the contributions of SEIU 503 members and staff in coordination with our Indigenous People’s Caucus. Native and Indigenous people have played an essential role in the labor movement nationally and locally. We honor your contributions to our union and to communities across Oregon.  

As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, we reaffirm our commitment to understanding the issues affecting SEIU 503 members who identify as Indigenous and working within the Native community to create power for working families. To that end, we make the following commitments: 

  1. To be more proactive in welcoming our Native and Indigenous communities and sharing their culture and wisdom with our broader community. We acknowledge that land recognitions alone are not enough. Our Union’s history, like many others, is fundamentally tied to colonial practices. We respectfully acknowledge and honor past, present, and future Indigenous workers of SEIU 503. We are committed to learning how to better convey the story of the lands we reside on today and the people who continue to struggle against (settler) colonialism.
  2. To recognize the more than 300 treaties the U.S. broke and continues to break by not providing guaranteed infrastructure and sovereignty, or through continued police violence, mass incarceration, land theft and other issues faced by Indigenous people today. We commit to raising awareness of these issues by supporting native-led partners and causes like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Stop the Line 3 Pipeline and the new Oregon law allowing Indigenous students to wear native regalia at school events.  
  3. To support the Indigenous People’s Caucus in its ongoing efforts to build programs specifically for the Indigenous members of our union family. 

As Native and Indigenous members and their families thrive, we all do. The work above will help make SEIU 503 a stronger union for all.  

Thank you.