Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. This month is used to show the vast diversity of Indigenous people in the United States through the traditions of different tribes. According to PBS, this heritage month was derived from a week-long celebration in 1986. President Reagan proclaimed the week of November 23-30 as “American Indian Week.” Since 1995, each president has issued some kind of proclamation declaring the month of November as a national holiday celebrating the culture and history of Native Americans and Alaskans.
There are many ways to celebrate this holiday. Visiting museums is a great way to gain a better understanding and appreciation for Indigenous culture. Places such as the American Indian Center in Chicago, feature exhibits about Native American history and are committed to creating more opportunities for conversations between natives and non-natives. It’s open from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays.
Reading books written by Native American authors is another way to learn about their culture or even just support them and their writing. Authors such as Sherman Alexie offer fiction novels that account some of the issues modern day Indigenous people living on reserves are faced with. Janet Campbell Hale uses fiction as an outlet for her own personal experiences and stories of her ancestors.
Supporting native-owned businesses and charities is something that can be done at any time, but it’s an important part of Native American Heritage Month. The First Nations Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund is taking donations to help reservations handle outbreaks of Covid cases. The Redhawk Native American Arts Council is dedicated to providing education about Native culture through song, dance, and other works of art.
The key to this holiday is to remember that the most important way to celebrate is to elevate the voices of Natives. This month is major for Indigenous people continuing to fight for their rightful place in this country.