November is National American Indian Heritage Month, and we join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. At Women of Toledo, our goals are always to nurture and support the goal of learning from the past and reflecting on the present to create a more equitable future. Our city of Toledo is located on the ancestral homelands of the Erie, Kickapoo, Odawa, and Seneca. We recognize that many other Native tribes have also conducted trade on, and called this region their home, including the Lenape, Miami, Ojibway, Peoria, Potawatomi, Sauk, Shawnee, and the Wyandotte. Hence, we acknowledge and honor the lives of Indigenous peoples and thank them for their resilience in the city where we now reside.
This month, we are grateful that we have the opportunity to share the story of Jessica Vallejo, a wellness practitioner and birth keeper who offers traditional family support at Sacred Spaces 216, a Cooperative Wellness Center in Cleveland, Ohio on behalf of the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance. The Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance promotes dignity and respect for Indigenous peoples. They advocate for Indigenous cultures and heritage through education, activism, and grassroots organizing.
Jessica Vallejo, LMT CCM CST Doula and Licensed Massage Therapist has achieved a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies and American Studies from The Ohio State University. Graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Medical Massage and the Upledger Institute, as well as the International Cupping Therapy Association. She is also the Director of Alpha Psi Lambda, Alpha Chapter- the first Co-Ed Latino/ interest Fraternity in the United States, founded in 1985 at the Ohio State University.
Jessica identifies as Xicana and is committed to her community and currently serves as the Secretary for the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance. She also serves as a Board Member with the Lake Erie Native American Council, and Marketing and Events Coordinator at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center- Toledo, Ohio.
As a part of the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition, the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance has been advocating for the removal of the harmful and racist mascot imagery of the Cleveland Indians Baseball team for almost 40 years. Jessica played a significant role in educating and raising awareness of the impact of such imagery on the community. Their efforts ultimately resulted in the team's name change and brought awareness to modern-day Native American identities and perspectives.
Some of the media coverage on this issue over the years has been attached below for reference. We thank Jessica for sharing her story and efforts with the opportunity for our organization to recognize the history, culture, and contributions of Indigenous people during this month.
ABC WKYC Studio, Meet the REAL Cleveland Indians