November is Native American Heritage Month

By Shaelyn Hood, photos by Kalvin Valdillez 

The purpose of Native American Heritage Month (NAHM) is to celebrate Native Americans’ and Alaska Natives’ rich culture, traditions, and historical moments in native history. This time also serves as an opportunity to educate people outside of Native American culture and raise awareness about the challenges that Native people have fought historically and are facing in the present. 

Efforts to recognize Native Americans and their history began in 1916, when the New York Governor declared an “American Indian Day.” Throughout the years following, many other states and local jurisdictions began to follow suit. The next action taken was in 1979, when Congress passed the joint resolution suggesting that a “Native American Awareness Week” be made. Seven years later, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan declared November 23rd – November 30th as Native American Heritage Week. 

It wasn’t until President George H.W. Bush approved the joint resolution to designate the whole month, back in 1990. The proclamation came after several decades of Dr. Arthur C. Parker, the American Indian Association, Reverend Sherman Coolidge and Red Fox James advocating and persisting the importance of this month. This landmark proclamation honoring America’s tribal people was a major steppingstone in celebrating Native culture. 

During Native American Heritage Month, there are many opportunities to celebrate the rich culture of Native Americans, including attending powwows, festivals, art shows, and gatherings; visiting with other tribes; listening to storytellers; attending presentations given by tribal elders and leaders, and reading about American Indian tribes and culture. This month gives an opportunity to reflect, and reconnect to our history, our culture, and our ancestors.

Below is a comprehensive list of some local and virtual events in November that tribal members can participate in.