Halloween is officially behind us and Thanksgiving is less than four weeks away. Odds are that if you have little ones, they are learning about Pilgrims and making turkeys by tracing their hands on construction paper. But what about the rest of this story? Does their curriculum include accounts of the vibrant Indigenous society that already existed in North America when the first European settlers arrived? If you have older children, do they learn how Indigenous people were pushed violently from their lands?
November is National Native American Heritage Month. The goals of this month are to pay tribute to the contributions of Indigenous and Alaskan Native people as well as educate people on the challenges Indigenous people have faced historically and face currently.
November was first deemed Native American Heritage Month in 1990, when President George H.W. Bush approved a resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variant naming (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since.
Native American Heritage Month is endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians and supported by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, who collectively contribute to an online portal dedicated to showcasing Native culture throughout November.
Vision Maker Media, the nation’s leader in content by and about Indigenous people, partners with public broadcasting to showcase documentaries, short films, and more for Native American Heritage Month and beyond. Stream selected films from the 2022 Vision Maker Film Festival free through November 13.
For more resources on Indigenous American culture and history, please see the list below.
- United States Census Bureau: lists facts and statistics on Native demographics.
- U.S. Department of the Interior: describes Interior’s support of Native American heritage and celebrates several Native monuments.
- National Archives: provides access to videos, articles, digital resources, online exhibits, and more. Additionally includes a link to the Indigenous Digital Archive’s Treaties Portal.
- National Park Service: explores the contributions of Native Americans to the Lewis and Clark Trail
- Centers for Disease Prevention and Control: dives into the health disparities faced by Native populations and strategies for reducing said disparities.
- American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association: describes the history of Native American Heritage Month and offers opportunities to support Indigenous communities.
- PBS North Carolina suggests several films and programs for Native American Heritage Month. Check out your local PBS station for more options.
With Thanksgiving approaching it is vital that we explore and share the whole story surrounding historical events, especially when it involves the mistreatment and ongoing marginalization of people. This November, while we sit around the table to give thanks, let’s also explore the culture, understand the past, and recognize the contributions of Indigenous Americans.
Kaela Sosa, CDE, is Curriculum and Programming Manager at The Diversity Movement as well as one of its founding members. With a degree in Psychology and Gender Studies, Kaela has fought for the visibility and acknowledgement of issues pertaining to underrepresented groups for nearly a decade. Connect with her on Linkedin.