Every New Year’s Eve, for quite a few decades, I have spent a few minutes pondering ways to be a better person in the upcoming year.  This is a task done by many people around the world, as the beginning of a new year represents a new beginning and a new opportunity.  In fact, recognition of the winter solstice is what led to winter celebrations, decorations, and the holiday season.  Centuries ago, the official celebration of the birth of Jesus was moved to coincide with these winter celebrations.  And, of course, the recognition of the New Year led to the development of resolutions.

Resolutions are all about self-improvement.  For many thousands of years, different peoples have celebrated the New Year by picking one or more areas of their lives that are not satisfactory, and making either a secret or public declaration to improve that area.  Improvements are the creation of new habits, or the removal of existing bad habits.  Habits tend to take three or more weeks of constant usage before they become part of our behavior, and many resolutions fail because the habits have not yet become ingrained in daily activities.

Sometimes, resolutions can be something as simple as smiling at strangers; opening the door for someone carrying packages; or just saying thank you. A resolution can also be larger and stronger, such as making a change in spending habits, personal fitness, or even an attitude adjustment toward family and friends. Sometimes these changes are painful and are difficult to maintain. Sometimes a breaking point happens. That is when a supportive network of friends and family can help us stay on the right path and repair the breakage faster and with less pain. As with many of us, I have had those breaks occur in my life. We pick up the pieces, and we somehow glue them back together as best we can, and we move on with our lives endeavoring to continue to walk in beauty with nature.

And all of this leads me to my resolutions for the coming year.  I am so very blessed with the members of my family and by my wonderful friends, including many in the world of Native American art, both artists and those who support the artists.

I resolve to support my friends to the extent I am able, giving encouragement and bringing joy.  Sometimes this will be a Facebook like or comment, and other times a shoulder to lean upon.  Although I don’t have unlimited financial resources, but I do have an unlimited heart – as all of us do.

I resolve to spread the word of the amazing Native American artists and their breathtaking creations, helping to tell the stories that makes this art so special.  They represent a long, vibrant American tradition, and honoring them and their works reflects back on the greatness that this country has become.  Without these artists, we would be much diminished.

I resolve to continue the struggle against fake Native American art.  We have seen a huge inflow of fake art from other countries, passing itself off as made by Native Americans.  Jewelry, pottery, textiles, and other areas are all being copied and continue to undermine the efforts of our Native American artists.  Yes, it is illegal, and yes, the government is trying to stem the tide, but a knowledgeable buyer walking away from fake art is the best deterrent.

And finally, I resolve to redouble my efforts to be involved in Native American organizations, whether it be Facebook groups or events like Indian Market or Native American organizations like SWAIA or IPCC.  These organizations are the muscle uniting individual artists and smaller groups of people, giving strength to the goals and objectives of our Native American peoples.

That doesn’t mean I will automatically agree with everything proposed, but I do support the right of these organizations to speak clearly and be heard, for that leads to civilized discourse, which leads to resolution of differences.  Our country has a great strength in the Native American people, and we must respect different traditions and ways of living, as well as incorporate the Native American threads into the rich tapestry of America.  This will make all of us stronger and happier as a result.

Happy New Year, everyone!  I pray for each of you successful resolutions in 2016, and a blessed New Year.

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