Article by Sarah Miller
In 2011, President Obama declared November as National Native American Heritage month, with November 25th being Native American Heritage Day. This was done to herald the rich heritage and culture of the Native American people. It was a way for Obama and his administration to show appreciation and support to tribal sovereignty, tribal self determination, and prosperity for all Native Americans.
Obama’s administration has worked to address issues that have plagued Native communities. These issues are expanding access to affordable healthcare, broadening educational opportunities and the Let’s Move! In Indian Country program, which was started by the First Lady.
With that said, November is a month to embrace the Native American heritage. For those who grew up on the reservation, work on the reservation and have started a family on the reservation, it can be easy to celebrate a heritage you were raised in. However, there are some people who don’t have access to their culture as easily as others. And there are nontribal people who aren’t sure how you would celebrate a month devoted to Native American heritage. Here are a few ideas to embrace Native culture.
A great way to start off the month would be to read a book by a Native author, or a book about Native American history. There are a variety of books out there on Native history. You can do a Google search on it to find the one that interests you the most. If you’re interested in reading a Native author, Vine Deloria Jr. is a great choice. Sherman Alexie is another great author and his stories are very well told. One of my favorite books is actually a compilation of native writers. The book is called Genocide Of The Mind: New Native American Writing. Another favorite of mine is Lakota Woman written by Mary Crow Dog.
Another way to celebrate Native American heritage is to watch a movie about Native Americans or starring Native Americans. Sure, everyone will flock to Dances With Wolves, or even Smoke Signals, as they are quite popular movies about Native Americans, but there is a variety of movies to choose from out there. Last Of His Tribe, starring Jon Voight and Graham Greene is a powerful and emotional film. Pow Wow Highway is a great independent film about friends and family. I Will Fight No More Forever is a potent tale of the war between the United States Army and the Nez Perce Nation.
Another way to immerse yourself in this culture is to try out a few Native American recipes. If you go to www.nativetech.org/recipes, you’ll find a few good ones to try out.
For those who are tribal members, celebrating your heritage is a welcome event. There are many ways to do that, such as engaging in a powwow, making an Salish craft, or even sharpening your Lushootseed skills. If you go to www.tulaliptribes-nsn.gov, and you click on the Lushootseed section, you can check out the phrase of the week. That page will also take you to the main Lushootseed language page.
Of course, there is always the Hibulb Cultural Center. Their exhibits can educate you on Tulalip history plus you get to see some cool exhibits. Go to www.hibulbculturalcenter.org to check out what they have going on during month of November. In addition to exhibits there is are also a lecture series featuring prominent figures in the Tulalip community. Then there’s the cultural series, which is usually a demonstration on a native craft. It is a great way to celebrate National Native American Heritage month and maybe, learn something new.