“During National Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate Indigenous peoples past and present and rededicate ourselves to honoring Tribal sovereignty, promoting Tribal self-determination, and upholding the United States’ solemn trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations.” From the White House’s proclamation on National Native American Heritage Month, 2022
The Securian Multicultural Network (SMN) recently hosted a fireside chat with Jennifer Murray, Securian Financial Solutions Marketing Manager — Arikara and member of the MHA Nation, and Briana Matrious, Tribal Community Facilitator with the University of Minnesota Extension Fund and member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Matrious spoke about the historical trauma of relocation, forced boarding schools and broken treaties. These experiences, shared by communities, can result in cumulative emotional and psychological wounds that are carried across generations.1 “Learning about the trauma allows the truth to come out and brings healing,” she said.
Murray left Securian for a period to work at a nonprofit in the Native American community, which brought her a new perspective upon her return. “One of the biggest lessons I learned from my time away was how important it is to bring your authentic self to work — both personally and for the organization, she said. “When I came back in 2016, I noticed a shift in the culture at Securian, which complimented the growth I had while I was gone and my desire to bring my whole self to work.
“I was able to serve on the inaugural DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) Council for three years and see firsthand how high of a priority DEI was and is for the company. With the work of the DEI Council and the ARGs (Associate Resource Groups) through events like this, they are educating us and creating safe spaces for important conversations. I’m still a work in progress, but I feel the shift in how I show up.”
When asked about her unique challenges as a Native American, Murray said, “In the financial services industry, it is very hard to find Native Americans to connect with or as mentors. It’s not an industry our people have been very exposed to. Because of this, when I joined the company, I got involved with an associate resource group, now known as SMN, which provided a sense of community and belonging. These women served as mentors and trusted confidants who helped me find my footing both personally and professionally. I cannot express how important it is to have this sense of community in the workplace.”
At the fireside chat, Securian employees had the opportunity to ask questions and learn how to support the Native American community. Murray suggested, “Learning about our culture, asking questions and sharing in the healing process. As Briana mentioned in her presentation, the historical trauma is really owned by all of us, and so it takes the collective society to heal. That can happen in big ways such as land acknowledgments, being an ally, supporting local native businesses like those in the American Indian Cultural Corridor.”
Incidentally, the St. Paul offices of Securian are located on territories once held by the Wahpekute. The Wahpekute — pronounced “wah-PEH-koo-tay” — are recognized as part of the greater regional Dakota, which is then broken down into four individual communities: the Upper Dakota, the Sissetons and Wahpetons, and the Lower Dakota, the Mdewakantons and Wahpekute. Numbering under a thousand people, the Wahpekute were easily the smallest of the four tribes.2 We honor with gratitude the people who’ve stewarded the land through the generations and their ongoing contributions to this region.