Dear IAF Community,
As I sat to write this letter, I found myself hesitant to write my traditional Thanksgiving greeting. In this time of awakening social consciousness, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the Thanksgiving holiday but also recognize our Indigenous Peoples and the atrocities they have suffered for the founding and development of America. For many of us, this is a hard concept to accept or believe. And I believe that at the intersection of acceptance and belief could perhaps be gratitude.
Last year, Idyllwild Arts adopted this Land Acknowledgement Statement:
Idyllwild Arts respectfully acknowledges the Qawishpa Cahuillangnah (KA-WEESH-PA CAHUILLA-NGA) also Known As Cahuilla Band of Indians and all 9 sovereign Bands of Cahuilla people who have stewarded this land throughout the generations.
Each year, we walk our students through the meadows on our campus to remind them of Indigenous ancestors and to ensure a sense of place and respect for land that should be cherished every day. The Cahuilla Bird singers and dancers regularly return to campus to share their stories as well as their culture and language with our community and to help ensure that our students, who come from around the world, maintain a respect for Idyllwild and the Cahuilla people.
It is hard to think that the Thanksgiving holiday that has come to mean so much for so many of us has its origins in such deep hurt and destruction. But I believe we can glimpse both competing realities through the prism of gratitude.
So, today, we express gratitude to everyone who has supported Idyllwild Arts during this pandemic that has challenged our school in ways yet to be measured. We are grateful to the parents who, year after year, choose Idyllwild Arts to provide the foundation for their children’s success and happiness. We are grateful to the teachers, support staff, and administrators for their extraordinary efforts to reach our students on campus and across multiple time zones. We are grateful to the people of Idyllwild who help us make a safe home for our students. And we are grateful to the Cahuilla people who have stewarded this land and continue to steward this land throughout the generations.
I hope that this Thanksgiving holiday we each find a way to hold multiple truths in our hearts and to know that our differences as well as our similarities make up the human race.