by Jennina Rose Gorman aka Katsitsioasta and Rachel Ishikawa
Rachel: Could just start by saying a little intro your name who you are?
Jennina: My name is Jennina Rose Gorman in English and Katsitsioasta in Haudenosaunee, which is my father’s language. My father led the first Civil Rights March on Washington for Indigenous People. Dr. King actually became involved with my father and they started writing to each other. Dr. King was killed before my father and him ever got to meet in person.
So when I became involved with Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) and Mr. Willie Baptist came up in front of our Membership Assembly and started talking about the Poor People’s Campaign, I lit up. I went running to him and I was like, “Is this the original Poor People’s campaign? The one that Dr. King was working on before he was assassinated?” And he was like, “Yes,” and I was like, “Sign me up!”
R: Do you feel like the conversation about indigenous people was well incorporated into the conference into the Congress itself?
J: I feel like it’s very important for us moving forward to reach out to the indigenous peoples that were on that land prior to colonization and get permission from them before work can really start.
R: Out of this time the “Indigenous Voices of the Poor People’s Campaign” was formed. Can you tell me about how that happened?
J: We participated in an Indigenous Sovereignty Workshop. I was so excited to be invited to the table because so much of my life, I’ve been denied that access to my identity that is native because I don’t look the part. What I heard was a lot of individuals feeling that we were underrepresented and some discussion about the place of indigenous people in the Poor People’s Campaign.
After that conversation I was talking to national co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis who asked me how things were going and I told her that some issues came up that need to be addressed. And we managed to arrange for a special meeting after the Congress was over and I just want to say it is amazing how as a national leader she was so accessible and so willing to listen and learn.
What happened out of that was that I set up a Zoom line called the “Indigenous Voices of the Poor People’s Campaign.” Any and all indigenous people who are involved in the Campaign are welcome to participate in it. We meet bi-weekly and at the moment we’re going through line-by-line of the Moral Budget and finding what things need to be changed so that they’re more inclusive of everyone – not just indigenous people, but really so that everyone feels like it is a welcoming place to be.The goal is to stay connected with each other and to support each other through our struggles and support each other through our work and to share resources so that this doesn’t happen again. So the idea is to maintain connection with indigenous people across the country so that we can help each other through this Campaign. If you want to get involved contact Jennina at firstname.lastname@example.org
This content originally appeared in Put People First! PA’s semi-annual newsletter, The Keystone. The Keystone is a great introduction to Put People First! PA, our work, and our community. It’s all written by our members for our own communication and education, and for supporters and new relationships to get to know us better. Each issue features reports from our work, news about our victories, stories about the health care system and the other issues affecting our communities, and poetry and artwork. Check out past and present editions here: Newsletter Archive.