The Institute for Community Leadership produces a dynamic, three-day interactive course we call Days of Gratitude during the Thanksgiving weekend. During the course we accomplish three very significant goals. First, we deconstruct the false narrative of “the first Thanksgiving.” It is important to know history. Secondly, we study the value of Native Sovereignty and self-government. Our third goal is to dig deep into the psychological, political, economic, and cultural value of gratitude. Dr. King teaches that gratitude is the mother of all virtues.
The Institute produces this year’s Days of Gratitude in the historic Capay Valley. Starting Friday, we are humbly honored to be welcomed by the Yocha Dehe Nation during the weekend to help us learn about Native Sovereignty, their history and community.
The town of Guinda, population 300, has an interesting pluralistic history it maintains to this day. It was founded in the 19th century by the son of a slave mother and a Caucasian father who came to the West Coast from Arkansas in 1858. Even before the Civil War, Guinda was known as a safe place for Black families to live and farm because the West Coast, comprised of free states and territories, was not subject to fugitive slave laws. As one current resident of Guinda says about the town’s heritage, “here Black history is American history.” The town and valley are a nexus of Native American, African American, Latino, Asian and European histories and traditions.
During Days of Gratitude:
*We honor Native Sovereignty, a recognized principle of the U.S. Constitution, wherein tribal nations have sovereign powers over their lands, resources, courts, health service and other aspects of their social, political and economic power. These sovereign rights have been exercised since the arrival of the first Europeans, and today, many Native Nations have regained a great deal of their inherent rights, resources and power.
*We together highlight the true leadership value of gratitude. As Dr. King said, “If you cannot find something you are grateful for, convince yourself there is something wrong with you.”
Democracy requires citizens who are grateful for differences, who are grateful for the opportunity to serve, to be of use and to play a role in developing peace, constructing community and gathering together for a stronger democracy.
At the Institute, our curriculum and practice places Gratitude as one of the Five Leadership Qualities, and to Dr. King it was an essential aspect of character. One of our goals is to assist people – young and old – in the development and practice in our daily lives of a heart full of grace and a mind guided by gratitude so that we can all better serve.