Here in New England, November is a reminder of cold weather, leaf peeping, the smell of pumpkin spice, and Thanksgiving dinner. One of the joys and traditions of this month is Native American Heritage Month. Also commonly referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, this tradition was established by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. The intention of this month is to educate Americans about the rich culture of Indigenous peoples and to honor and preserve their long history.
National Native American Heritage Month began as a single day as an effort to acknowledge the contribution to society by the first Americans. Now this effort has blossomed into an entire month, as a single day is simply not enough to truly understand and appreciate Indigenous peoples. They had tremendous influence in fields such as; arts, ecology, and agriculture. It is so important to recognize the tremendous strides in these fields, in agriculture, a major one is the domestication of numerous commonly eaten crops, such as corn, squash, potatoes, and many berries. Additionally, appreciating the art of Indigenous peoples and supporting Native artists, allows for cultural expression.
Indigenous, award-winning writer and educator Larry Spotted Crow Mann came to CA to give us a deeper understanding of Native peoples’ history in America. His accounts of Native children in foster homes and boarding schools stripping children of their culture demonstrates why it is important for us to remember, learn, and heal from this history. His drumming and singing performance gave us a look into some Native peoples’ lives and music. That music is connected to one’s heartbeat and inner self. It was a truly eye-opening experience for the new students this year.
Some ways to pay tribute to Indigenous peoples include committing to support the remaining Native tribes across the world. Observing this month shows appreciation for Indigenous peoples’ contributions. Other ways include education, visiting museums, and watching films and documentaries surrounding their traditions and different festivals. Another beautiful act to celebrate Native American Heritage Month is planting flowers. Big believers in conservation and one’s connection with the natural world, planting flowers native to your area is a great way to support and appreciate the impact of Native people all over the world.