Reclaiming the narrative about Native peoples in the United States
The dominant narrative about Native peoples is founded on generations of myths, stereotypes, romanticized tales and outright racism. But a coalition of Native-led organizations, Tribes and researchers decided that this had to change.
What was the challenge?
Reclaiming Native Truth was an unprecedented national public opinion research and strategy-setting initiative to disrupt and change the negative narratives and invisibility of Native peoples in ways that can lead to policy and cultural shifts across society.
What did we do?
MG joined Reclaiming Native Truth to synthesize the findings on Americans’ attitudes, myths and misperceptions about Native peoples. We facilitated an inclusive process in Indian Country to develop and test a new narrative, and to develop a narrative change strategy that would move hearts and minds to achieve equity, inclusion and policy changes that preserve Tribal sovereignty and improve the lives of Native families and communities.
The research findings led to MG working with a group of Native artists and storytellers to craft a new narrative. The narrative was tested in a national survey. We built messaging guides detailing how to advance the new narrative, for both Native peoples and organizations, as well as allies. And we worked with more than 200 Native and non-Native stakeholders to build a multiyear strategy across levers of change identified in the research: policy; entertainment, pop culture and arts; education; media; and philanthropy.
A new Native-led initiative, IllumiNative (Illuminatives.org) has emerged from this work—one that uses a “movement of movements” approach to advance the new narrative to promote systemic and cultural changes across multiple sectors. Media and entertainment companies are asking for the Reclaiming Native Truth research and are engaging in conversations to help shift the narrative. A website houses the research, narrative change strategy and message guides that are freely shared for all, while organizing efforts continue in support of strategy implementation.