November: Native American Heritage Month
In 1976, Congress designated a week of October to celebrate Native American Awareness Week. The week served as recognition for the great influence American Indians have had upon the U.S. Yearly legislation was enacted to continue the tradition until August of 1990, when President Bush approved the designation of November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Each year a similar proclamation is issued. President Clinton noted in 1996, "Throughout our history, American Indian and Alaska Native peoples have been an integral part of the American character.
Against all odds, America's first peoples have endured, and they remain a vital cultural, political, social, and moral presence." November is an appropriate month for the celebration because it is traditionally a time when many American Indians hold fall harvest and world-renewal ceremonies, powwows, dances, and various feasts. The holiday recognizes hundreds of different tribes and approximately 250 languages, and celebrates the history, tradition, and values of American Indians. National American Indian Heritage Month serves as a reminder of the positive effect native peoples have had on the cultural development and growth of the U.S., as well as the struggles and challenges they have faced.*
To learn more about the culture, heritage and contributions of Native Americans, go to the following sources:
In Trust is a highly rated podcast that uplifts the Osage people and the story of the stretch of land about the size of Delaware that they purchased. In time, valuable minerals were found there. Listen to see what happened.
Listen to this lecture by Charles Mann who wrote the book 1491 that won the National Academy of Sciences’ Keck award for the best book of the year. Among other things, this lecture surfaces the historical record that suggests the population of natives before colonization was closer to 40-80 million people! Listen to this lecture that dispels many myths you may have believed about our rich native heritage.
This curated selection of films is presented by the Alban Public Library as films about natives by natives. Certainly you can find a selection that interests you here!
This link brings us into an exploration of US policy that has guided relationships between our native population and the United States. This site can easily be used as a 1-2 period lesson for students and community members.
An Indegenous Peoples’ History of the United States is a New York Times best seller that is the first book on US history told from a Native American perspective.