August 8-14, 2021: Native Breastfeeding Week

WHEREAS, Michigan honors the 12 federally recognized tribes, and many more tribally recognized tribes, native to this land and acknowledges the people, land, traditions, and customs stolen by colonial systems through government practices of forced separation, forced assimilation, and forced removal; and,

 

WHEREAS, Michigan acknowledges the grief of Indigenous peoples and joins in mourning the loss of the Indigenous children whose remains were and are being discovered on stolen land and those who were denied their birthright of the perfect first food; and, 

 

WHEREAS, Native breastfeeding is a sovereign right for Indigenous peoples no matter where they reside; and,

 

WHEREAS, Michigan celebrates doodooshaaboo, breastfeeding, with Indigenous peoples as a gift from the Creator directly given to Indigenous peoples so they may nourish the next seven generations; and,

 

WHEREAS, Michigan acknowledges that doodooshaaboo, breastfeeding, is also considered a medicine, and is acknowledged by Indigenous peoples as the first medicine children receive to live healthy and strong lives; and,

 

WHEREAS, during this week we are dedicated to broadening public understanding of the critical impact breastfeeding has on improving the health of infants and mothers within the Indigenous community;

 

WHEREAS, Michigan is committed to reducing infant mortality and increasing the health outcomes of mothers and babies during National Breastfeeding Month, and Indigenous maternal mortality is two to three times the rate of white maternal mortality and Indigenous infant mortality is three times greater than white infant mortality with a 73 percent increased mortality risk if the baby is not breastfed; and, 

 

WHEREAS, to improve health outcomes by providing equitable and culturally appropriate and respectable care for Native families in the prenatal period through postpartum, as well as in lactation support, as Native mothers are two and a half times less likely to receive prenatal care with 50 percent receiving no prenatal care; and,

 

WHEREAS, Michigan is committed to creating a safe environment for Indigenous mothers and babies in clinical practices; too often Native mothers have been coerced into sterilization and/or contraception immediately after birth which can be detrimental to breastfeeding; and,

 

WHEREAS, Native breastfeeding is vital to counter the inequity and injustice experienced by Indigenous families and their ability to practice their traditions in accordance with their ancestral and tribal communities; and,

 

WHEREAS, Michigan celebrates the diversity and encourages visibility of Native breastfeeding experiences; and,

 

WHEREAS, inherited trauma has had a significant effect on bonding and traditional parenting in Native households: a Native baby who is not breastfed is held 50 percent less in their lifetime, while breastfeeding promotes bonding between infant and mother; and,

 

WHEREAS, Indigenous birth workers and breastfeeding supporters provide families with support and education to reclaim their right to breastfeed their children freely for however long they desire; and,

 

WHEREAS, decolonizing parenting and feeding traditions promotes food sovereignty, body sovereignty, and healing of generations; and, 

 

WHEREAS, diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death among Native Americans, with one third of the population being affected by diabetes in their lifetime and breastfeeding is a prevention against diabetes; and,

 

WHEREAS, Native breastfeeding is an act of defiance, resistance, and beauty we should support and protect at every level of society; and

 

WHEREAS, reactivating Indigenous birthrights will undoubtedly build a strong foundation for Michigan and Tribal Nations to build healthier communities for the next seven generations;

 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, join with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Sacred Bundle of Indigenous Birthworkers Alliance, Postpartum Healing Lodge, Indigenous Medicinal Birth Lodge, Nourishing Nations, Sage and Rebozos, Nizhóní Sol Birthwork and Michigan Breastfeeding Network, to hereby proclaim August 8-14, 2021, as Native Breastfeeding Week in Michigan.