As we move through a season of gratitude, with opportunities to gather with friends and family around the dinner table and give back through service, the resilience of our shared communities is top of mind. I am grateful for the conversations I have had this year with colleagues, family and friends that helped ground me with continuous learning and insight.
Resilience and strength were the themes of how AT&T recognized and celebrated Native American Heritage Month, and the great work from Crystal Echo Hawk and her team at IllumiNative. In this month’s Conversations with Corey, Crystal, who is a citizen of the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma, shared what inspired her to become an advocate for Native representation, what it meant to her to see the first appointed Native American Cabinet Secretary, the importance of bridging the digital divide to ensure access for Native communities’ success for generations to come. One of the most insightful parts of our conversation was Crystal’s thoughts on how we can respectfully recognize Thanksgiving while acknowledging the challenging history of the holiday. I hope you take the time to watch our discussion and I’d love to hear what you learned.
Over the last month, it is conversations like the one I had with Crystal and other Native peoples that have created intentional learning and sharing opportunities throughout the company. At the start of the month, we learned more from Tom Brooks, AT&T Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs about his Native American upbringing in a Mohawk family. In his blog, Tom shares the work AT&T is doing to help Tribal lands close the digital divide by offering low-cost options, educational resources, and economic opportunity to those who don’t have broadband connectivity today.
Our AT&T colleague Rachel Salinas of the Inter-Tribal Council of AT&T Employees (ICAE) shared more about her culture, family and experience as a Native woman leader through an engaging “20 Questions” video. To bring everyone into the celebration, we welcomed the community to our Dallas headquarters at the AT&T Discovery District for a Powwow event hosted by ICAE and Humanity of Connection, which featured traditional Native dancers, music, entertainment, and vendors.
As we continue learning about Native culture and considering how we can increase our understanding of these communities, I want to leave you with an article on the importance of land acknowledgment, written by AT&T Lead Consultant for DE&I and National Vice President for ICAE, Linda Sayre. The piece explains how the recognition of the original stewards of the land we all occupy is critical to reconciling our relationships with indigenous communities. I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to strengthen our ties to the land, people and culture through our work at AT&T and hope that this month, and beyond, serves as a way to deepen your understanding of the rich history of Native peoples as well.