MONAA working to provide resources for Native Americans
Muskogee Oklahoma Native American Association Chairwoman Britteny Cuevas, left, and MONAA public relations officer Sara Megan Kelley since January have promoted the organization and its upcoming Muskogee Oklahoma Native American Holiday in October. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
MUSKOGEE – After the city of Muskogee changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in 2018, the Muskogee Oklahoma Native American Association was created to build an event around the holiday and give Native Americans access to resources throughout the year.
The group began meeting in January and now has about 70 members.
“A group of us in Muskogee wanted to make it a big event and make it our own,” MONAA Chairwoman Britteny Cuevas said of the upcoming Indigenous Peoples Day. “We used to have such a diverse group of Native Americans, and there’s a lot in Muskogee that need to be represented, though we always get looked over. We didn’t want to limit ourselves to just that one day. We wanted to help give people resources throughout the year, so we became an organization.”
Cuevas said there are many issues in Muskogee they want to help Native people with and provide resources for. Some of MONAA’s objectives are increasing voting participation; decreasing alcohol-related crimes; family violence prevention; raising awareness for missing Natives; reporting sexual assault; decreasing incarceration, homelessness and suicide rates; exposing racism; decreasing school dropout rates; and increasing employment.
“Just to have all of these resources available because it’s time to change, and we can make change in Muskogee. There’s no reason why we can’t. And it should have already been done,” Cuevas said.
MONAA public relations office Sara Megan Kelley said there are several tribes represented in Muskogee but wants all to be included in the group’s mission for Indian Country.
“This is for all Native Americans that want to participate and join in whether they know a lot about their culture, they were raised in a Native home or if they weren’t,” Kelley said.
Cuevas said MONAA also wants to focus on education for Native American youth with regards to their heritages, languages and histories.
“There’s so much history, and it’s not a good history. America wasn’t founded on roses and stuff. It was founded on racism. But we need to tell those stories and educate so we can grow from that because that’s the past. We know that happened. We’re all hurt, but we need to be identified and have the voice to speak up,” she said.
The Indigenous Peoples Day event, or Muskogee Oklahoma Native American Holiday, is expected to be held Oct. 11-14 with activities such as stomp dance, Indian taco sale, film festival, comedy act, hymn singing, guest speakers, art and crafts vendors, storytelling, march and ceremony, veterans program and concert.
The event is in the planning stages, but MONAA members are promoting it, as it is the group’s first big project.
“We have a lot of support and everybody’s pitching in, and it’s going to be successful, I have no doubt about it,” Cuevas said.
MONAA is under a fiscal sponsorship with “Neighbors Building Neighborhoods” and is working to become an independent, nonprofit organization.
For information, call 918-351-1716 or visit Muskogee Oklahoma Native American Association MONAA on Facebook.