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Halloween is officially behind us and Thanksgiving is less than 4 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 other side of this story? Is the historical marginalization and violence against Indigenous people folded into their curriculum? Or is it all euphemisms and select stories of cooperation?

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 Native 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. PBS also supports Native American Heritage Month by similarly showcasing Native culture via documentaries, short films, recipes, and more during the month of November.

For more resources on Indigenous American culture and history, please see the list below.

With Thanksgiving approaching it is vital that we share and explore that there are often two sides to every story, including history, especially when it involves the mistreatment 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.

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