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.
- U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs: links to a livestream of this year’s conference on November 9th, at 1pm EST, as well as the history of Native American Heritage Month.
- 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 to the Lewis and Clark Trail
- Library of Congress: details the history of proclamations deeming November Native American Heritage Month
- 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.
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.